In Windows 10, File Explorer keeps track of all the files and folders you've ever opened. Follow the below steps to clear recent files and folders in File Explorer in Windows 10.
In case you are wondering, these logged files and folders appear as frequent items in the different places like the start menu, file explorer, etc., to help you access the frequently used files and folders quickly. As good as it is, seeing frequent files and folders front and center can be a privacy issue. So, if you don't like this behavior, you can clear recent files and folders list in File Explorer and even disable the feature entirely.
Like for many things in Windows, there are multiple ways to clear recent files and folders from File Explorer. All methods achieve the same result. I will show two methods. The first one uses the built-in options in File Explorer and the second method uses the new PC Settings app. Use the one you are comfortable with.
Method #1: File Explorer Options to Clear Recent Files and Folders
1. First, open File Explorer by searching for it in the start menu or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Win + E.
2. In the file explorer, click on the "View" tab and then click on the "Options" button.
3. The above action will open the Folder Options window where you can customize how File Explorer works in Windows 10. Here, make sure you are in the "General" tab and click on the "Clear" button under the Privacy section to clear recent files and folders in File Explorer.
4. (Optional) If you want to, you can stop file explorer from tracking and logging your recent files. To do that, uncheck both the "Show recently used files in Quick Access" and "Show frequently used folders in Quick Access" options.
5. Click on the "Apply" and "Ok" buttons to save changes.
That is all. As soon as you click on the Clear button, file explorer will delete recent files and folders list. Like I said, if you don't want file explorer to ever show recent files and folders, uncheck the two checkboxes under the Privacy section.
Method #2: PC Settings App
As an alternative, you can also use the PC Settings app to clear recent files and folders in file explorer.
1. Open PC Settings app by pressing the keyboard shortcut Win + I. Alternatively, you can also click on the "All Settings" button in the Action Center.
2. In the Settings app, go to the "Personalization -> Start" page. On the right page, toggle the switch under "Show recently opened items in Jump lists on Start or the taskbar and in File Explorer Quick Access" to "OFF" position.
That is all. As soon as you turn off, Windows will clear the recent file and folders in File Explorer and disables the feature. Once disabled, Windows will no longer log your frequently accessed files and folders.
That is all. It is that simple.
Related: How to open multiple file explorer windows in Windows 10.