How to Clear Recent Documents History in Microsoft Word

889962 How to Clear Recent Documents History in Microsoft Word

Opening Microsoft Word and seeing a long list of recently accessed documents can feel cluttered. Fortunately, clearing this recent documents history in Word is easy. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Why Clear Recent Documents

Some reasons you may want to clear the recent documents list include:

  • Privacy – If you access sensitive documents on a shared computer, clearing the list prevents others from seeing what you were working on.
  • Reduce Clutter – Seeing a long list of random documents each time you open Word can feel cluttered. Clearing old entries streamlines Word.
  • Fix Issues – Sometimes document links in the list become broken over time. Clearing and repopulating the list can fix opening issues.

Clear from Within Word

The easiest way to clear recent documents is directly within Word:

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Click Options on the left sidebar.
  4. Click Advanced on the left sidebar.
  5. Under Display section, click Empty next to Show this number of Recent Documents. This immediately clears all recent documents from the list.
  6. Click OK to save changes.

The next time you open Word, the recent documents list will be empty.

Clear from File Explorer

You can also clear the recent docs list from File Explorer:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word.
  3. Select the File MRU file and delete it. This clears the cached list of recent files.
  4. Open Word and verify recent docs are cleared.

Since this deletes the cached recent files list, Word will rebuild a fresh empty one next opening.

Reset Word to Default Settings

If you want a clean slate, resetting Word reverts settings like recent files back to default:

  1. Click File > Options.
  2. Click Quick Access Toolbar > All Commands.
  3. Scroll down and select Reset Ribbon.
  4. Check all boxes under Reset to reset all options.
  5. Click Reset.
  6. Click Yes to confirm.

This resets all Word options, including wiping recent documents clean.

Stop Tracking Recent Files

Alternatively, you can stop Word saving recent file history entirely:

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.
  2. Under Display uncheck Store these additional recent file lists.

Now Word won’t track recently accessed files at all.


Clearing recent documents in Word is simple once you know where to look. Try the in-app steps first for quick removal. Resetting Word or changing tracking options provide more drastic measures.

Keeping your recent docs tidy makes opening Word feel smoother. Follow the above guide to keep unwanted documents from cluttering your view.

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