Getting Rid of MRU Entries

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 11, 2014)


The MRU refers to "most recently used," which is the list of files you have used recently in Word. The list appears when you click the Office button. This file list is a wonderful aid most of the time, but is also very revealing. Everyone who uses your computer knows the name of the last file (or files) you've been working on. You may not always like this.

There are several ways you can delete file names from the MRU list, and the method you choose will depend largely on the version of Word you are using and whether you want to delete all of the list or some of it. If you want to delete all the entries in the list, try these steps:

  1. Click the Office button and then click Word Options. Word displays the Word Options dialog box.
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the list of available options until you see the Display section.
  4. Make sure the Show This Number of Recent Documents option is set to 0.
  5. Click the OK button.
  6. Restart Word.
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 3 to again display the correct portion of the Word Options dialog box.
  8. Set the Show This Number of Recent Documents option to reflect the number of MRU files you want displayed.
  9. Click OK.

Now if you go and display the MRU list, it should be cleared out. If you want to get rid of just a few of the MRU entries (so they don't show up in the list any more), things get a little more complex. A sure-fire way to get rid of entries is to edit the Windows Registry. That may sound scary to some people, but it need not be. Just make sure you are careful and that you back up your Registry if you are prone to explorational errors. (How you back up the Registry depends on your version of Windows. A good Windows reference guide will include the desired information.)

You make changes in the Registry by using a program called regedit. If you are using Windows Vista, follow these steps to start the program:

  1. Make sure you are out of Word completely.
  2. Click the Start menu at the bottom-left of your screen. Windows displays a whole bunch of options.
  3. In the box that says Start Search, type regedit and press Enter.

If you are using Windows XP, follow these steps to start regedit:

  1. Get out of Word completely.
  2. Choose Run from the Start menu. Windows displays the Run dialog box.
  3. In the Open box type regedit.
  4. Click on the OK button.

You should now use the controls in the Registry Editor to locate the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\File MRU

When the key is open, the right side of the Registry Editor shows all the files in the MRU list. Simply delete the files you don't want to appear in the list. (Selecting one of the file names and clicking the Delete key will do the trick.) Get out of the Registry Editor and restart Word; the MRU list should reflect your changes.

If you don't want to edit the Registry, you can try these general steps:

  1. Click the Office button. You should see a list of options and the MRU list.
  2. At the right of each file you want kept on the MRU list, click the pushpin icon. This "pins" the document to the list.
  3. Count the number of files that you pinned.
  4. Click Word Options. Word displays the Word Options dialog box.
  5. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced.
  6. Scroll through the list of available options until you see the Display section.
  7. Make sure the Show This Number of Recent Documents option is set to the same number you counted in step 3.
  8. Click the OK button.
  9. Restart Word.

At this point you should only see in the MRU list the files that you previously pinned; all the others are gone. You can now unpin any files you want, and you could adjust upward the number of MRU files that should be maintained by Word.

For those who need to remove files from the MRU list on a regular basis, you may want to consider using a free add-in created by Word MVP Greg Maxey. You can find a complete description of the add-in at this location:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7356) applies to Microsoft Word 2007.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 6 - 4?

2019-07-12 10:55:44

Stephen G. Leach

I use about 150+ Excel ->Word Paste Special Links. Manual update. We use MS Office Home and Business 2013 32 bit. I went through the above suggestions and none of applies to my files. Both programs are using updated file names. Opening Excel speeds up the opening Word process, but even so, it takes several minutes of waiting for Word to open, as I can watch each link being opened (?) at the bottom of Excel. I don't have any other external links beyond my one Excel file. As a side note, if I use an older version of Word (and in Compatability Mode) it open immediately and irrespective of whether Excel is open. However, there are some attributes of Word that don't work. Very Frustrating. Thank you in advance.

2019-05-07 14:46:13

Susan Katz

I routinely use a document that contains more than 50 links to a large Excel file which in turn references other Excel files. I find that it is always necessary to open all the spreadsheets first, and then the Word file. This seems to make updates run quickly (40-60 seconds per Word file).

My links are all manual, not automatic, which gives me a lot of control - I can update an individual chart if needed. Also, manual links prevent Word from trying to load the Excel file if I only want to work in the Word document.

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