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How to access Recent Files from the Start Menu on Windows 10

The Start Menu on Windows 10 has gone through some changes over the years. Most of what it looks like now is an improvement from its Windows 8 days. Minor changes were made to it over the various versions of Windows 10 that have been released. One thing that was removed and has not been added back to date, is the recent files option that was pretty useful. It allowed you to access a list of all the files you recently opened. Here’s how you can access recent file from the Start menu on Windows 10.

Bear in mind that this is going to be a work around so while you will be able to access Recent Files from the Start Menu, there will be some compromises that you have to make.

Recent Files Shortcut

Go to your desktop and right-click on an empty area. From the context menu, select New>Shortcut. In the shortcut field, enter the following;


Click the Next button and name the shortcut. You can give it any name however, it’s a good idea to name it Recent Files.

Once the desktop icon has been created, right-click it and select ‘Pin to Start’ from the context menu.

When you click the Recent Items tile on the Start Menu, it will open the File Explorer listing all the files and folders you recently accessed. You aren’t getting a list like you used to on Windows 7 but if this does the job for you, it’s a reasonable work-around to the shortcoming.

Modify Start Menu UI

The other option is to use an app to modify the Start menu. ClassicShell is a popular app that has been used for years to get the Windows 7 Start menu, or replicate the look of Windows XP, on Windows 10. It is no longer being developed however, it’s open source and you will find countless ports of it. We recommend using Open-Shell-Menu. Download, install, and run the app.

You don’t have to configure anything. Don’t select any skins and keep the ‘Classic with two columns’ style.

When you open the Start menu, it will still fit in nicely with the Windows 10 UI but it will have all the elements of the Windows 7 Start Menu which includes the Recent Items. When you hover your mouse over Recent Items it will show you a list of the recent items that you’ve accessed.

This isn’t just close to the feature that Windows 7 had, it’s an exact replica. The downside is that you need a system that can run a UI modifying app. If you like the Start Menu on Windows 10, you will have to forgo using it.

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