How to Quickly Clear or Disable “Recently Opened Programs” List in Start Menu in Windows Vista and 7?

Recently we received following email from a reader "Kevin":

Hello VG

I have a shared computer in my home and I have some hidden programs/games which I usually run. I don't want others to see or know about those hidden programs.

But when I run those programs, Windows automatically adds their shortcut to start menu left-side pane and I always have to remove those hidden programs from the list when another person wants to use the computer.

I want to know is there any way to quickly clear that start menu list so that I don't need to remove them one by one?

I know you'll have the solution.


We know that there are many people who find themselves in a similar situation many times. When we install Windows, it comes with lots of built-in programs shortcuts added to the start menu's recently opened programs list like Windows Media Center, Snipping Tools, Sticky Notes, etc. Removing those programs from the list is the first task which I always do after opening start menu in a fresh installation of Windows.

Many times we run portable programs or games to check them and then we never run them again but their shortcuts always stay in start menu.


So it would be really nice to have an option to quickly clear the recently opened programs list in start menu without any need to remove the programs shortcuts one by one.

So today in this topic, we are going to show you how to clear the recently opened programs list in start menu using only 2 easy steps:

1. Right-click on Taskbar and select Properties.

2. Now go to "Start Menu" tab and uncheck the first option "Store and display recently opened programs in the Start menu".


Click on Apply button and it'll immediately clear the whole list.

Actually this option automatically clears the recently opened programs list as soon as you disable it. So we are using this option as a switch to clear the programs list quickly.


3. Now you can enable the option again and Windows will start adding the opened programs shortcuts to start menu left side pane.

If you have any other method to clear the list quickly, please share it in your comments...

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 7, Windows Vista

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  • Thank you so much VG. I knew you will have the solution. I luv this website. xD

  • Thats a clever trick vishal. thnx for sharing.

  • There is a gud 1 VG.

  • ccleaner

  • OMG thx vg! i nvr knew about this trick, and i already know that was one of the biggest, annoying "goof-ups" found in most windows version.

  • VG, I've emailed you the method!

    Best Regards,

  • Wow VG, I like the Mobile site! It's improved! :D - but it has an ugly font when I comment. :/

  • VG

    ^^ Thanks. I'm glad you like the mobile version of the site. Which font actually you are talking about? The font which shows posted comment or the font which is used in the text box for typing the comment?

    Thanks for that registry key but that for clearing recent documents history, not recently opened programs history.

    Thanks everyone for your valuable comments. Much appreciated. :)

  • Cool hack.Never noticed it.:-)

  • I can't remember because im on my mobile, but there was an even more quicker and easier way to do this.
    I will tell you afterwards.

  • @VG
    There is a problem with this tweak.After doing this it automatically clears RUN mru list as well which I think noone wants..Is there a way around..??

  • VG

    ^^ True. You can take backup of following key before doing this tweak:


  • Oh wow!!! This is a very cool article about disabling open programs. I really like it. I think a lot of your readers really enjoyed it as well. I was doing something earlier and my computer was really taking a beating. It was going so slow for some reason anyway, you realy helped me out. Plus I can now save some more time. Thanks.

  • Simply copy and paste this text to notepad "del /F /Q %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations\*" without quotation and save it as a batch file. Then run the batch file, it is automatically delete all the recent opening programs.

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