How to make the Recent Places folder better in Windows Explorer

By default, it's not very helpful

The "Recent Places" folder in Windows Explorer sounds like it would be a helpful shortcut: The last folders and files you accessed right there in one click. Because that automatically populated folder uses default folder settings, however, it's sort of a crapshoot if you'll easily or quickly find what you're looking for there.

For example, if you've recently worked on or edited several files in the same folder--most notably folders in Windows' Libraries (such as "Music" or "Downloads"), you could just see those folders duplicated in your Recent Places view, which isn't very helpful.

The Office Watch site has a solution to make the Recent Places view more useful and filter out those duplicates that don't offer any more information about what exactly it is that you most recently viewed on your computer: Add the folder path to the columns in Windows Explorer. As they suggest:

To change the columns,

  1. Right-click on any column heading
  2. Choose ‘More …’ to see the full list of possible columns.
  3. UNcheck the options for Type and Size (near the top)
  4. Scroll down the list until you find ‘Link Target’, check the box
  5. Click OK.

The column you want is ‘Link Target’ – not Path or any other tempting choice.


By adding the "Link target" column, you can more precisely see which recent folders or files you need.

Read more of Melanie Pinola's Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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