Word 2007: Deleting individual documents from the Recent Documents list

August 6, 2010

You can clear the Recent Documents list of all entries by opening Word Options, selecting the Advanced tab, scrolling to the Display section and setting the value for Show this number of Recent Documents to 0 (zero).

However, what if you only want to remove one or two documents from this list? Perhaps, like me, you need to take a screen shot and there are some document titles in the list that you’d rather not show the world (or your users at least). You only want to get rid of a couple, not the whole lot, so how do you do this?

Update June 2015: This is much easier in Word 2010 onwards — just right-click on the document in the Recent Documents list and select Remove from list. You can also change how many you see at the bottom of the Recent Documents/Recent places window.

However, if you’re using Word 2007, you’ll need to follow the instructions below.

With Word 2007, you need to delete these entries out of the Registry. Be warned: If you are not comfortable with working in the Registry, I suggest that you reset the number to zero using the method above, close Word, re-open Word, reset the number back to what you want, then open and close several documents so that you have a list populated with the documents you want.

If you are familiar with working in the Registry, then here’s how you find and delete the Recent Document entries you don’t want listed. Note: It’s possible that this Registry modification will also modify the list of files shown in the Compare Documents window.

  1. Close Word.
  2. Open the Registry. (If you don’t how to do this, you shouldn’t be working in the Registry!!)
  3. Go to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\File MRU (Note: Office 12.0 is Word 2007). For Word 2010, you need to go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word\File MRU
  4. Find and select the documents you want to remove. You can select more than one. In the example below, I have some test documents (highlighted in yellow) that I don’t want to see in the screen shot.
  5. Right-click then select Delete. You are not asked to confirm this deletion. Note: You aren’t deleting the documents — you’re only deleting the link to them from the Recent Documents list.
  6. Close the Registry.
  7. Re-open Word — your Recent Documents list will no longer show those documents.


  1. I miss the Word 2003 method: Alt-Ctrl-hyphen made the cursor turn to a thick bar, and when you used it to select the document to be removed, it just disappeared. (the tool was intended to let you remove menu items, but worked well for this.)

  2. I’d like to know why a document in word that I have created has to be so
    damned hard to delete, and why there isn’t any information on how to do
    it in the help menu. You shouldn’t have to be a programmer to delete a
    letter from the file of documents you have previously created, should only
    have to highlite the item, and push the delete button, or something as
    simple as that. Whatever happened to DOS simplicity?

  3. Hi Robert

    I absolutely agree. I was trying to delete a doc from my list just yesterday and there was no simple way to do it.

    One option is to just keep on opening other documents until the one you want to ‘delete’ is no longer on the list.

    You’re right — it shouldn’t be this hard.


  4. Hi again Robert

    I just found this possible solution for you: http://gregmaxey.mvps.org/Recent_Files_List_Editor.htm


  5. So happy to discover I’m not the only one totally mystified by the simple task of deleting a document! I’ve spent about 20 mins looking thru stuff, answering questions I don’t understand, handing out passwords, and I still have no idea.
    Come on…. this is crazy! Give me my old Word back.

  6. Come on Scott, Fix this please… Mom

  7. I don’t know who Scott is, but if he works on the Microsoft Word team, then he should take a look at this plea of mine for fixing the incredibly cumbersome cross-references dialog too: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/message-to-microsoft-fix-words-cross-reference-dialog-box/


  8. Thank God I also have a MAC! From now on, I’ll just create new documents on the MAC. When I no longer need the document(s), I’ll just drag them into the trash can.. Still trying to remember why I thought I also needed a PC with Windows….

  9. Excellent !!! I tried & found complete satishfaction.

  10. I can not believe anyone would put out a product that makes it practically
    impossible to delete a document.

  11. Hi Dan

    You can delete documents easily. What you can’t do is remove them from the recently used document list easily!

    Actually, there is a trick to getting them off the recent docs list and that’s to keep on opening other documents until the one you want to ‘delete’ is no longer on the list. If there’s any you really want to keep on the list, ‘pin’ them to the list first and they will stay.


  12. Open Office for me, I’m not buying any more MS Office software. Maybe a MAC would be better as so many of my friends have told me.
    I bought this suite in 2007 and just started using it, Excel sucks just as much. Menus are the most non-ergonomic POS’s I’ve ever seen. I wasted my money.

  13. Right on point. Thanks for the location of the REG Key!

    ~ Eric Peyser

  14. I remember that, back in the old DOS days, Word 2 allowed me to rename my files directly from the menu. I wonder why MS removes such simple and helpful funcionalities when “improving” their products…

  15. Thank you for sharing the REG Key and pointing out that this truly is the only way. It works like a charm – but of course, messing around in regedit isn’t for the faint hearted!

  16. Thank you for helping to removing Unnecessary Documents from ms word

  17. OH MY GOD!!!!!!this saved ma life . . huh!!!!!!!!!!

  18. I´m amazed how pretty much everyone who commented thinks you have to go to the Registry Editor to delete a document! Grow a brain, folks, the article clearly states in the title and the text that this trick is to remove the document from the recent documents list! Anyway, since these same people are apparently having a hard time actually deleting a document, it shows their technical level is so low they´ll never have a clue about what the article is dealing with.

  19. Microsoft does not improve programmes. They only change it to confuse us. The bottom line is: They must make more money

  20. Reducing the number of “recent documents” in the Office Button dropdown menu does not “clear” the documents. It only hides them. Unfortunately reducing the number to 0, closing word, Later increasing the number causing the original list to display. Mine no longer even replaces with newly opened docs. opening new docs doesnot change the docs listed. Thanks

  21. It worked for me. Thanks

  22. Right Click on Taskbar, click on Taskbar Setting then click on Start which is on the leftside of the page and then turn off the “Show recently opened items in Jump List on Start or the Task Bar.

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