Mac: Delete the list of recently used documents or deactivate them completely

The list of recently used documents, apps and servers can be useful for retracing steps on the way to work and always keeping an overview. But if you share the workplace with someone or if there is only one Mac with one user account in the household, then you might want to delete the list after use. In this guide I will show you how you can do this and how the "Objects used" overview is not created in the first place. Finally, there is apps and their own lists.

Mac instructions: Clear list of recently used items

You can find the "Used Objects" list directly in the Mac menu, which you open in the top left corner by clicking on the Apple logo (). In the dropdown menu that appears, hover over with the mouse cursor Objects used, then a list opens to the right. At the bottom of this list is delete postings. If you click on it, the overview will be emptied. Here is a clear step-by-step guide to help you work through it quickly:

  1. Top left on that Apple logo here
  2. Mouse over Objects used hover
  3. At the bottom of the list that appears delete postings here

If you cannot find the overview mentioned, it is because no list is created. You can find out where you can check or change this in the next paragraph.

Prevent a used object list from being created under macOS

If you don't always want to have to empty the list, but want it not to be recorded from the outset which apps, documents and servers you are using, then you can do that too. This time the way goes through the system settings of the Apple Mac. Next you go to the "General" area and then you just have to make a selection:

  1. Top left on that Apple logo here
  2. Then the System settings ... choose file
  3. Top left on General here
  4. In the area Objects used set the counter to "none"
  5. Close the window
If you want to prevent a "used objects" list from being created on the Apple Mac, you can do this in the system settings of macOS. Otherwise you can always delete the list of recently used documents.
If you want to prevent a "used objects" list from being created on the Apple Mac, you can do this in the system settings of macOS. Otherwise you can always delete the list of recently used documents.

Special case app lists: Recently used documents in Word, Excel and more

Some apps create their own lists to enable access to the most recently used documents and projects. One of the best-known examples is probably Microsoft Word. But Microsoft Excel and other apps from the Office family are also included. Here in the blog we already had a guide that presents one or two solutions and also shows an interesting work-around for preventing document lists in Word: Completely delete the "Recently used" list from Mac Office Word and Excel.

However, the apps from Microsoft's Office collection are not the only ones that provide lists of previously used files and projects. Apple's office solutions also create their own lists, whether Pages or Numbers. Personally, I like to use these lists, which appear when you right-click the app icon in the Dock, to call up older texts or to have tables with text overviews quickly at hand. The same applies to Affinity Photo, which is located in the Dock and also shows the last (saved) content with a right-click. The VLC player also offers a playlist of the latest media on request.

Universally prohibiting apps from creating document lists - is that possible?

If you have further tips and tricks on the subject or know an app that prohibits all programs from creating recently used lists at the same time (or even with individual selection), please leave a comment. Or are you completely against it, because your workflow (similar to mine) is based on the fact that you always have an overview of the most recently created, opened and edited documents? That would also interest me.

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3 comments on “Mac: Delete list of recently used documents or deactivate them completely”

  1. I never need the most recently used programs. But I rely on the recently opened files. How do the Americans always call it “senior moments”. If I've saved a file again and it ended up somewhere.

    You cannot access the recently opened files from apps with sandbox. The data is encrypted.

    There is a method to delete the recently opened file for Cocoa apps. But that's probably just about the open app. Security and such.

  2. “Last used” in the iMac under Ventura can be deleted, but then they also disappear in the saved version. But this makes no sense!
    I want to both not use “last used” and or keep it completely in the background “without the third party” being able to fall back on it.

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