How to clear Windows history

Clear Windows History

Clear Windows History

Every time you surf the Internet or work offline, Windows saves information about your activity.

Windows keeps tracks of your computer activity in order to provide a more pleasant computer experience. But those history tracks can compromise your privacy and provide a way for others to view what you have been doing, searching, downloading, running, saving, what documents and files you have just opened etc.

What history tracks are stored by Windows

Windows Temporary Folders (Temporary files directory)

Windows temporary directory (Temp folders) stores Windows and other programs temporary files. This directory can become cluttered and contain files from programs you no longer have installed or files which may violate your privacy.

You may clear Windows Temporary Folders manually. Temp directory (Temporary files directory) for the current user is usually located in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Temp and Temp sub-directory in the directory where Windows is installed (a typical path is C:\WINNT).

Recent documents list

Windows keeps a record of every document that you open on your computer and stores them in a list. Originally created to make finding files more convenient, Recent documents list can be easily accessed from the Start menu (click on 'Start', then 'Documents'). But this also means that anyone who has access to your computer can see this list and directly link to any of the items that you've opened.

To clear Recent Documents history on Windows XP manually:

Right-clicking the Start button and choose "Properties".

Then click "Customize".

Click the "Advanced" tab

Click "Clear List" and then click "OK".

Note: This action does not delete documents from the computer.

To show Recent Documents (most recently used documents) for Windows XP (start menu) manually:

Right-clicking the 'Start' button and choose 'Properties'.

Open the 'Start menu' tab.

Click 'Customize'.

Click the "Advanced" tab.

Select 'List my most recently opened documents' check box.

Click "OK".

Note: next time you click the 'Start' button, you will be able to see the Recent Documents folder on the Start menu.

To clear My Recent Documents list for Windows 2000 manually:

Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Taskbar & Start Menu.

Click the Advanced tab.

In Customize Start menu, click Clear.

To clear Recent Documents history for Windows Vista manually:

Right-clicking the Start button and choose "Properties".

Then click "Customize".

Click the "Advanced" tab.

Click "Clear List" and then click "OK".

Windows Run History

Windows Run History (Open programs history - also known as Windows Explorer UserAssist Data) - every time you open a program from the Start Menu, the date and number of times you used it is stored in an encrypted database. If you don't clear UserAssist data, it can compromise your privacy and security and increase the number of entries in the registry slowing Windows down.

Windows Vista Start Menu contains a list of recently run programs (Vista Recent run list) which will be shown once the Start button is clicked. Whenever users run programs, Vista will keep tracks of this information and build a list of recently run applications and rank them according how frequently the program has been accessed and used. This recently and frequently run programs list provides users with easy to access shortcut to quickly open and run programs.

Generally, Windows Vista Start Menu contains by default 9 recently run programs.

To clear Run history on Start menu on Windows Vista (Classic Start Menu):

Click the 'Start' button.

Select 'Settings'.

Select 'Taskbar and Start Menu Properties'.

Open the 'Start menu' tab.

Click 'Customize'.

To clear recently run programs click the 'Clear' button.

Click 'OK' to clear Start menu run history.

Using software you can clear Windows 7/Vista Run history with one click or you can set scheduler to clear recent run programs list automatically.

Windows XP Run history:

To clear Run history on Start menu on Windows XP (Classic Start Menu):

Right-click on the 'Start' button.

Select 'Properties'.

Open the 'Start menu' tab.

Click 'Customize'.

To clear recently run programs click the 'Clear' button.

Click 'OK' to clear the Start menu run history.

'Windows 'Run command' history - Windows saves a list of programs you type in 'Run' dialog box.

'Run command' history can be easily accessed under the Windows 'Start' - 'Run'.

To protect your privacy, you can clear run history:

To clear Run command history:

Click the 'Start' button.

Select 'Run'.

Start the registry editor (regedit.exe) - in the text field type regedit and press 'Enter'.

Navigate to RunMRU.

On the right panel you will see the list of programs that you have run using the 'Run' command.

Right-click on the program you want to delete and click 'Delete' or select Edit - Delete.

Click Yes for confirmation.

Close the registry editor.

Note: You will need to restart your computer to apply changes.

Attention! Do not edit any registry entries unless you are certain that you know what you are doing as you can potentially corrupt your operating system.

Windows Search "Files & Folders" History

When you use the "Search" option in the Start Menu, Windows keeps a list of the last files you searched for and the items you searched for in those files. And this search history will be visible to anyone who begins a new search. Windows "Files & Folders" search history can be easily seen if you open the "Search results" window (Start -> Search -> Files & Folders). Even if this information isn't shown in the "Search results" window, it is kept in a Windows registry and can be easily viewed.

Windows Search "Computers" History

After you have searched for an item using Windows Explorer, Windows will automatically keep a record of the search. And this search history will be visible to anyone who begins a new search. "Computers" search history can be seen if you open the Search results window (Start menu -> Search -> Computers). Even if this information isn't shown in the "Search results" windows, it is kept in a Windows registry and can be easily viewed. You can erase Windows Search "Computers" History manually.

Pagefile

Pagefile (swap files) is a space on the hard disk used as the virtual memory extension of computer RAM. While working on the computer you use different programs - so page file (swap file) may contain sensitive or confidential information, some applications may store "clear" passwords. To protect your privacy you may want to clear swap file (page file) so nobody could see your data in the swap file.

Clipboard data

The Clipboard is a temporary storage area for information that you have copied or moved from one place and plan to use somewhere else. We often use copy and paste commands while working with logins, passwords, credit card numbers and other secure information. But Clipboard information can be easily seen by anyone who can access your computer or by the web sites you visit.

Recycle Bin

If you delete a file, this file is moved into the Recycle Bin (not deleted from your computer at all) and can be simply restored from the Recycle Bin.

Recent open/save files list

Recent open/save files list (ComDlg32/OpenSaveMRU and ComDlg32/LastVisitedMRU) - most applications use the Windows-provided dialogs for open/save operations. The CommonDialog control provides a standard set of dialog boxes for operations such as opening and saving files, setting print options, and selecting colors and fonts. The ComDlg32 control which is used in many applications saves its own set of history information separate from other Windows history.

Every time you open/save a file Windows keeps a record of this activity - Windows records the names of files that you open or save. So, very often when you choose "open" or "save" item from application's file menu, Windows displays a drop-down list of your most recently used files or opens the certain directory. Even if these names are not shown in the file open/save dialog of particular application, they are kept in a Windows registry and can be viewed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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