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How to Delete Recent Documents in Excel

Microsoft Office apps like Excel, PowerPoint, and Word have all advanced a lot over the years, both in terms of how they function and how they look. Earlier in the days, you will be shown a blank spreadsheet upon launch when you open Excel. However, modern versions of Excel list all the recent documents you’ve worked on when you open it. This is the case with other Office apps too.

This is a great feature to have, as it lets you access all your recent files no matter where they’re stored on your computer. However, a lot of users tend to develop a love/hate relationship with this particular feature. If you’re someone who grew up working with Excel since the early days, chances are, you’re not a huge fan of the recent documents list. Also, some users may want to clear their recent documents, just like how people like to remove their browsing history now and then.

Do you fall into one of these categories? No worries, because in this article, we’ll be taking a look at not one but two different ways to delete recent documents in Excel.

Option 1. Delete Recent Documents in Excel

You have multiple options when it comes to getting rid of your recent documents in Excel. Some people may want to remove one or two files that they previously worked on from their recent documents list, whereas others may want to delete all of them. We’ll be covering the steps for both of these requirements. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. Once you’ve launched Microsoft Excel on your computer, click on ‘File’ from the menu bar if you opened it into a new or existing document.

click File to delete recent documents in Excel

Step 2. This will bring up the main menu of Excel that typically shows up when you launch the software. Here, you’ll find all your recent documents. To remove one of them, right-click on the one you want to delete and select ‘Remove from list.’

choose Remove from list in Excel

Step 3. You can repeat the above step if you want to remove other files from the list. However, if you’re looking to delete all the documents in this list, click on ‘Open’ from the left pane.

click Open to get rid of recent documents record in Excel

Step 4. You’ll find all your recent documents in this menu too. But, if you right-click on any of these files, you’ll find an additional option called ‘Clear unpinned items.’ Choosing this option will immediately clear your entire recent documents list, excluding the ones you pinned.

select Clear unpinned items

Step 5. Microsoft Excel will now show a dialog box prompting you to confirm your action. Click on ‘Yes,’ and you’re done.

click Yes to finish deleting recent documents list in Excel

There you go. This is how to delete recent documents in Excel. Note that this method does not stop new documents from being added to the list again. This is exactly why you may be interested in taking a look at the next option.

Option 2. Disable Recent Documents List in Excel

The first option covered how to delete recent documents list in Excel, which should be good enough for many users. However, some people may want to prevent new files from being further added to this list so that they don’t have to clear them now and then manually. This can be achieved by disabling the recent documents list in Excel. Let’s take a look at the necessary steps:

Step 1. Once you’ve opened Excel, click on ‘File’ from the menu bar if you aren’t on the app’s Home page already.

click File to disable Excel recent documents list

Step 2. On the Home page, click on ‘Options,’ located at the bottom of the left pane, as indicated in the screenshot below.

click Options in Excel

Step 3. This will open a new window within Excel. Here, click on ‘Advanced’ from the left pane and scroll down to view other sections.

Click Advanced in Excel and scroll down

Step 4. Under the Display section, you’ll find the setting ‘Show this number of Recent Workbooks.’ It’s set to 50 by default. Simply change the value to ‘0’ and click on ‘OK’ to save your updated settings.

change the value to ‘0’ for disabling recent documents list in Excel

Now, if you head back to the Excel Home page, you won’t find a single document in your Recent Documents list since you’ve set the value to 0. As per the default setting, Microsoft Excel lists out 50 of your most recent documents, and having to clear them regularly might not be the ideal option for frequent users of the app.


The above procedure is only applicable to Microsoft Office 2013 and later. If you’re still running the older 2003-2010 versions of Office on your system, you’ll need to follow a slightly different approach since opening Excel will not take you to the Home page that lists out your recent documents. However, all you need to do is click on the Office icon at the top-left to view and manage your recent documents. Every other step is fairly similar to what we discussed here.

Although we were focusing on how to delete recent documents in Excel in this article, you can follow the same procedure to delete your recent documents or disable the recent list in other Office programs like Word and PowerPoint.

We hope you were finally able to get rid of your recent files from showing up in Excel upon launch. Do you have any other useful tips for managing recent documents in Excel? Make sure to let us know by dropping a few words in the comments section down below.

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