Create A Shortcut To All Recently Opened Files

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Q. I know that applications such as Word and Excel give you the option of quickly identifying and then opening up to nine recently used files. But frankly that’s not enough. For example, why can’t I have easy access to the last 10 or even 20 or more recently opened files? And why can I access only the most recently opened Word files when I’m in Word and only the most recently opened Excel files when I’m in Excel. In other words, why can’t I access recently opened Word files when I’m in Excel? I feel shortchanged.

A. I can appreciate that. Microsoft doesn’t offer a solution. However, I can show you an “undocumented” way to accomplish what you want.

But before I do, here is some information for those who are unaware of the “most recently opened files” option. If you’re in Word, for example, and you click on File , a list of the most recently opened files will drop down (see the bottom portion of the screenshot at left).

You can adjust the number that appears by clicking on Tools , Options and the General tab and then placing a check next to Recently used file list and selecting the number of entries (maximum of nine).

My undocumented way is much more powerful. It can open an unlimited number of recently used files no matter where you happen to be in the computer. Unlimited may be an exaggeration: I haven’t had the patience to test the upper limit, except to say it’s more than 50. And for real convenience, you have only to be on the desktop—not even in an application—to access this recently opened file shortcut. Also, I know it works in Office XP, but I’m not sure whether it works in earlier versions of Office.

Here’s how to set it up: In any vacant space on your desktop, right-click and then click on New and Shortcut . In the space under Type the location of the item , type

E:\Documents and Settingsyour user namerecent.

My user name is Stanley Zarowin , so the location in this case would look like this (see screenshot at right):

Then click on Next and type a name for the shortcut—such as Recent Files . Now click on Finish .

If you want to customize an icon for the shortcut, right-click on the Recent Files icon, then on Properties and Change Icon and click on the icon of your choice and follow the screen directions.

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