Windows

Quick Tip: Tweak the Windows Registry to allow more Recent Items on the Start Menu

For some reason, Windows 7 does not have a built-in way to adjust the number of Recent Items listed on the Start Menu. Mark Kaelin shows you how to do it yourself with a registry tweak.

I like Microsoft Windows 7 very much and have installed it on all my personal computers; however, there are a few things that baffle me about the way the operating system interface can be configured.

For example, the Recent Items listing on the Start Menu has a default value that you cannot change without performing a Windows Registry hack (Figure A). If you want to change the number of recent programs or the number of recent items in jump lists, they have controls in the customization panel (Figure B). But there is no such obvious configuration panel for Recent Items.

Figure A

Recent Items are listed on the Start Menu.

Figure B

Customize the Start Menu.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Registry Edit

Standard disclaimer: The Windows Registry File is vitally important to the proper operation of the Windows operating system. Please back up the file before you make any registry edits. In Windows 7, click on the Start button and type regedit in the search box. Click on the regedit.exe file in the list of items and answer the UAC prompt. Once in the registry editor (Figure C), navigate to this key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Figure C

Navigate to the correct key.
Right-click in the right pane of the editor and navigate the menu to create a new DWORD 32-bit value named MaxRecentDocs, as I have done in Figure D.

Figure D

Create the new DWORD 32-bit value named MaxRecentDocs.
Double-click the MaxRecentDocs entry so that you can change the value, but before you do, change the Base radio button to the Decimal setting (Figure E).

Figure E

Change to the Decimal setting before changing the value.
Note: I found that setting the number too low or too high can have unpredictable consequences like shrinking the list to zero or reverting back to a default value of five. With that caveat noted, you can change the number of items in your Recent Items section of the Start Menu to an amount more suitable to your needs (Figure F).

Figure F

Set the list to show the number of entries you'd like.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

5 comments
keortanaz
keortanaz

Is it possible to do it on XP to show only certain amount of recent items? Thanks in advance lookup cell phone

ahgo2010
ahgo2010

I followed the instructions carefully, but found that the MaxRecentDocs new D-word kept defaulting to Hexadecimal after closing the entry, and thus Recent was still empty. Any advice or correction?

sparent
sparent

I find Win7's Recent Items by application a lot more useful than the general Recent Items. Can you also control those Recent Items?

Slayer_
Slayer_

I want to do this on XP. Preferably to show my last 50 or so.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Personally, I have the Recent Items list on the Start Menu turned off and therefore never use it, but what about you? Do you use that feature on a regular basis?

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