My Recent Documents displayed in Windows XP

My Recent Documents are gone

Probably Windows 98 users remember that in the Start menu there was a possibility to see your recently open documents (as far as I remember, the list displayed the last 15 documents you opened). In Windows XP, this option is gone. Sometimes I found it useful, because I never remember the names I give to files, or the place I save them.
Windows XP has this information in memory, but it does not display it by default anymore. Here’s how to get access to the recent documents list:

  1. Open Windows Explorer (if you don’t know how, use the shortcut keys combination “Window” + “E”)
  2. Click on Local Disc (C:)
  3. Select Documents and Settings
  4. Select your user
  5. Click on Tools on the menu bar, then select Folder Options
  6. In the new window, select View
  7. In this new list, look for the option “show hidden files and folders” and check it, then press OK
  8. In your current folder, now you’ll see a new option called My Recent Documents. Double click on it, and you’ll see your recent documents list.
  9. If you want to find it easier, you can assign a shortcut for it on your Desktop (Right click on My Recent Documents, choose Send to, choose Desktop (create shortcut).


That’s all. Enjoy!


  1. You can also do this:

    Right-click on a blank space of your task bar (i.e. wherever there is no program button, not in the system tray, the quick launch bar or the start button) and select Properties

    Click the Start Menu tab at the top

    Next to the “Start Menu” option is a Customize button, click that

    Click the Advanced Tab

    At the bottom of the page is a checkbox marked List my most recently opened documents


  2. My Recent Documents are always displayed empty. Can any one please tell me why it is displayed.

  3. Hi Simonne,

    Thanks for the information. It was really useful for me since other options of adding “my recent documents” were not working for me.


  4. Recently opened documents are NOT showing up when the start button is clicked and mouse pointer is moved to ‘Documents’. ‘My Documents’ and ‘My pictures’ show, but recent (“MRU” per Microsoft definition) always shows grayed out and empty. ALL registry entries are set so that these SHOULD show, but it hasn’t corrected the problem. Microsoft “Fixit 50534.msc” was run and did NOT correct the problem. Hidden files and folders are set to show. The ONE thing that is suspicious is your reference to the folders “Recent” and “My Recent Documents” which (if I am reading your narrative properly) should appear under ‘Documents and Settings\user name. There is a “Recent” folder which is empty, but there is no “My Recent Documents” at all.

    It APPEARS that none of the documents that are viewed are recorded anywhere and if they are, they are NOT populating the “Recent” folder. I have yet to find the reason why these are not being saved and listed.

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