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.

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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:


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.

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.