Clear list of recent items in OS X Lion [ Dock / Exposé ]

In OS X 10.7 ‘Lion’, when you right-click an icon on the dock, it shows you a list of the “most recent” items for that application. The same files appear in the application exposé. For me at least, it also lists items I already deleted. Maybe it’s a bug, maybe it’s feature.


I tried clearing the history through  ⇢ Recent Items ⇢ Clear Menu. That didn’t work. Turns out I was just looking at the wrong place. It’s a per application setting. You have to clear it for every single application. Takes a while, but once it’s done, it’s done.

And that’s how you do it:

  • Open the application.
  • Go to the menu bar
  • File ⇢ Open Recent ⇢ Clear Menu
  • Restart the application

If you don’t restart the application,it will keep the history until you do.

Update:As pointed out by James this might not work in every application. Some applications need you to log out and back in again. Apple really needs to fix this as soon as possible. This should work without relogging or quitting applications.

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3 thoughts on “Clear list of recent items in OS X Lion [ Dock / Exposé ]

  1. I tried this but it didn’t work in Preview or TextEdit. In both those programs the “Clear Menu” option is grayed out when I click “Open Recent”. When I click on the program in the dock I still get a list of documents (some of which are already deleted). It’s a bit of a pain in the butt :(

    • Hi, James

      Thank you for your comment.

      Was the “Clear Menu” option greyed out from the start or after you already clicked it once? If you already clicked it, the recent items in the dock will be removed once you restart the application. Closing all the windows alone won’t do it, you actually have to quit the application ⌘Q.

      It seems that for TextEdit you might have to go the extra mile. Try to log out and in again.

  2. FWIW, I tried a random 3rd-party app: TextWrangler. Nothing seems to clear the Recents for that, not even logging out and back in. You can only clear the history shown in its File menu, but the Recents in the dock icon and app exposé remain.