How to Clear Recent Documents List on Shutdown in Windows 10

To protect your privacy, you can force Windows to clear the recent documents list on shutdown. Here’s how to configure it.

Whenever you open a document in Windows, it will be logged and stored in the Recent Documents section or jump list. When you want to access that same document again, you can find it in the Recent Documents section. As you can guess, this particular functionality is mainly designed to give you quick access to your most recent documents without having to scour through different folders.

As good as the feature is, it is not for everyone. For example, if you are sharing your system with users then they can easily access your recent documents or know what you are working on using the same feature. To avoid that, you can easily clear the list manually. However, if you are finding yourself doing that frequently, you can automate the process.

Simply put, if you don’t like this behavior, you can configure Windows to clear the recent documents list when you shutdown. Let me show you how.

Steps to Clear Recent Documents on Windows Power Off

Like for many advanced settings in Windows, you can use either Group Policy Editor or Registry Editor to clear the recent documents list. If you are using Windows Pro or Enterprise version then I recommend you follow the Group Policy method. Windows Home users should follow the Registry method.

via Group Policy Editor

The Group Policy Editor provides an easy way to quickly clear the recent documents list. One of the advantages of this method is that all you have to do is point and click. No need to create and modify obscure registry values.

1. First, open Group Policy Editor using the Run command “gpedit.msc”. Alternatively, you can also search for “Edit Policy” in the start menu.

2. Once the Group Policy Editor has been opened, you will see a bunch of folders on the left panel under two different sections. Go to the following location by expanding the folder tree.

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar

Clear-recent-documents-windows-go-to-policy-folder

3. On the right panel, find and double-click on the “Clear history of recently opened documents on exit” policy.

Clear-recent-documents-windows-open-policy

4. As soon as you double-click, the target policy configuration window will open. Here, select the “Enabled” radio option and click on the “Apply” and “Ok” buttons to save changes.

Clear-recent-documents-windows-enable-policy

5. After saving the policy setting, reboot Windows to apply the policy.

That is it. From your next use, Windows will automatically clear the recent document list when you shut down the system. The same is true when you restart the system too.

To stop recent documents from clearing on exit, either select “Not Configured” or “Disabled” in the policy settings window.

(Alternative) via Registry Editor

If you are using Windows Home edition then you have to use the Registry Editor to do that same thing. There is no other alternative because the Group Policy editor is not available in the Home edition. Before proceeding, I recommend you back up the registry just in case.

1. First, open the Registry Editor using the Run command “regedit”. You can also search for the same in the start menu.

2. In the registry editor, copy the below path, paste it in the address bar and press Enter. If there is no address bar, expand the folders on the left panel to go to the target folder.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\

Clear-recent-documents-windows-go-to-registry-folder

3. Now, make sure the Explorer folder is selected on the left panel. Right-click on the empty space in the right panel and select the “New → Dword Value” option.

Clear-recent-documents-windows-create-dword-value

4. Name the blank value as “ClearRecentDocsOnExit” and press Enter to confirm the name.

Clear-recent-documents-windows-name-dword-value

5. Double-click on the ClearRecentDocsOnExit value. In the Edit Value window, type “1” in the Value Data field and click on the “Ok” button save changes.

Clear-recent-documents-windows-configure-dword-value

6. Close registry editor and reboot Windows.

That is it. From your next use, Windows will automatically clear the recent document list when you shut down the system. The same is true when you restart the system too.

To stop recent documents from clearing on exit, either delete the value you just created or change its Value Data to “0”.

Wrapping Up

That is all. As you can see, it is nothing hard to clear the recent documents list automatically on shutdown. Do keep in mind that if you turn off your computer directly without properly shutting it down, the recent documents list will be not cleared for obvious reasons.

If you like this article, do check out how to clear recent files in File Explorer and how to clear File Explorer address bar history in Windows.

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