How to See Recently Opened Files on Windows

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Have you recently modified a file, then accidentally closed it and lost it somewhere? Do you want to know what files someone you share your computer with has opened recently? Locating recently opened files is super easy with Windows. So whether you want to re-edit recently closed files or find out who last accessed them, you can do it easily.


In this article, we will see how to see recently opened files in Windows, when they were last modified and how to recover them if they were deleted.


How to See Recently Opened Files on Windows

Windows offers two ways to view recently opened files; using Quick Access or the Recent Items folder.

While Quick Access only shows a few recently opened files (about 20), the Recent Items folder keeps a history of files and folders opened days ago. Thus, a user can go back to check which files were opened on a particular day, even a week or a month ago.

Also, Quick Access doesn’t allow you to sort recently opened files by specific parameters, which is easy to do in the Recent Items folder. Let’s see how you can access recently opened files in Windows using both methods.

How to view recently opened files in Quick Access

You can view recently opened items in Quick Access by opening File Explorer from the taskbar and selecting Quick access from the left sidebar. Then you will see a list of recently opened files in the right pane. So, scroll down to find the recent file or folder you were looking for.

In most cases, Quick Access displays recently opened files in File Explorer; however, there are times when it breaks and stops showing them. If this is the case for you, check out our article on fixing Quick Access when it doesn’t show recent files.

If you can’t fix Quick Access to view recently opened files or want to perform a deeper scan of recently opened items, you can check recently opened items in the Recent Items folder.

How to view recently opened items in the recent items folder

Follow these steps to view recently opened items in the Recent Items folder:

  1. On the taskbar, open File Explorer.
  2. Paste the following path into the File Explorer navigation bar.
    C:UsersusernameAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsRecent
  3. Hurry Walk in.

Remember to replace your current username in the path mentioned above. If you don’t, you won’t be able to access the Recent Items folder.

The above steps will take you to the Recent Items folder, where you can view recently opened items. And depending on how many files and folders you’ve opened recently, you can even check those opened in the last month.

When you view recently opened items using this method, you can sort them by different parameters, such as date modified, type, size, authors, etc. If you want to sort the data by a specific parameter, right-click in the same folder, go to sort by in the context menu and click on the parameter by which you want to sort the files.

If you cannot find the parameter by which you want to sort the items, click the After… button in the sort by menu, check the box of the detail by which you want to sort the data, then click Ok.

After that, the parameter will appear in the sort by menu, where you can select it to sort recently opened items.

How to View Recently Opened Files for Specific Apps on Windows

Although most applications allow users to view recently opened files within the application, Windows also keeps track of recently opened files in most cases.

To see recently opened files for a specific app, go to Windows Search and type the app name. In the right pane of search results, you will see recently opened items in this application, which you can access with a single click.

To see items opened more recently than those appearing in search results, open the app and go to its recent files section.

How to see recently opened files deleted from quick access

Quick Access is a hotspot that lets you quickly access recently closed files. Therefore, even if you or someone you share the computer with deletes files from Quick Access, they are not deleted from their original location. You can still access recently closed files in the main recent items folder by following the same steps explained earlier.

How to see recently opened files deleted from Recent Items folder

When you clear File Explorer history or delete recently opened files from the Recent Items folder, they are permanently deleted from Windows. Restoring this data is complex and your chances of doing so are slim. However, some workarounds may allow you to access recently opened files again.

Meet at the location of the Recent Articles folder, right click on the folder and select Restore previous versions from the context menu. After that, click on the most recent version of the folder (if available) and then click on Restore.

If this option is not available in the context menu of the Recent Items folder, repeat the process for its parent folder, “The Windows.” So right click on the the Windows folder and select Restore previous versions from the context menu.

If none of these folders have a previous version, your only recourse should be to use third-party recovery software to recover the data in the Recent Items folder, albeit with a low chance of success.

Easily access recently opened files

Recently Opened Files gives us a quick overview of files you or someone else have been working on recently. We hope our guide made it easier for you to access recently opened files in Quick Access and in the Recent Items folder.

If someone deletes files from the Recent Items folder after using them, you can try to restore them with our solution. If you succeed, you are ready; otherwise, you will have to resort to third-party recovery software.

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