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How to Delete Search History in File Explorer on Windows 10

File Explorer retains a history of everything that you’ve searched for and it also lets you save the search results. You have to manually save results but the history is saved automatically. This can be both useful, and annoying. It really depends on how you prefer to use the search feature, and how often you use it. The search history might be useful for a while but when you no longer need to go back to a specific search term, keeping it in the history is of little use. Here’s how you can delete search history in File Explorer on Windows 10.

Delete search history in File Explorer

We’re going to detail four different methods for deleting search history in File Explorer. These methods may all work, or only one of them might work. It depends on the version of Windows 10 that you’re running. Methods 1 and 2 are less likely to work if you’re running Windows 10 1909, or later. Method 3 and 4 will work regardless of which version of Windows 10 you have.

Method 1: Shift + Delete

Much like the Shift+Delete keyboard shortcut in browsers, this same shortcut can delete individual entries in File Explorer’s history.

  1. Open File Explorer. It doesn’t matter which folder you open it to because the history isn’t specific to folders.
  2. Click inside the search bar and wait for the list of items from your search history to appear.
  3. Use the arrow keys or the mouse to highlight an entry.
  4. Once highlighted, tap the Shift+Delete keyboard shortcut to remove it.

Method 2: Search tab

This method is only going to work on older/earlier versions of Windows 10, and it may also work in Windows 8/8.1. It is unlikely to work on Windows 7.

  1. Open File Explorer to any folder of your choice.
  2. Click inside the search bar.
  3. Check if a new ‘Search’ tab is added to the ribbon.
  4. If the tab appears, go to it.
  5. On the Search tab, open the ‘Recent searches’ dropdown.
  6. Click the ‘Clear search history’ option.

Method 3: Change the Windows registry

You can make a small change in the registry and reset File Explorer’s search history.

  1. Tap the Win + R keyboard shortcut to open the run box.
  2. In the run box, enter ‘regedit’, and tap the Enter key.
  3. In the registry editor that opens, go to this location :
Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\WordWheelQuery
  1. Delete everything under the ‘WorldWheelQuery’ key.
  2. Right-click the taskbar, and select Task Manager from the context menu.
  3. On the Processes tab, look for Windows Explorer.
  4. Select it, and click the Restart button at the bottom right.
  5. The search history in File Explorer should be deleted.

Method 4: search-ms:

You can force the ‘Search’ tab to appear in newer versions of Windows 10 and delete File Explorer’s history from it.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click inside the search bar, and enter search-ms: in it. Tap Enter.
  3. The Search tab will now appear on the ribbon.
  4. Go to the Search tab. Click the dropdown arrow next to Recent searches.
  5. From the dropdown, select ‘Clear search history

Microsoft has changed File Explorer but it appears to have left out an option to easily delete the search history. We recommend you try methods 1 and 2, and then try 4. You might want to edit the registry last. Once the search history has been deleted, new history will be populated based on your searches.

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