Stick to the List in Excel

You open lots of Excel files every day, and sometimes open the same file several times. In Excel 2007, if you click the Office Button, you can see a list of documents that you've opened recently. Click on file name, to open that file again.


Change the Number of Documents

My Recent Documents List was showing 17 files, and I guess that's the default number, since I don't remember changing it. Instead of leaving the default setting, you can show more or fewer files.

To change the setting:

  1. Click the Office Button, then click the Excel Options button
  2. Click the Advanced category
  3. In the Display section, change the number for Show this number of Recent Documents.
  4. Click OK, to close the Excel Options window.


The maximum number of files is 50, but that many might not show unless you have a really tall monitor.

Change the Setting in Excel 2003

In Excel 2003, the maximum number of files you can show in the list is 9. To change the setting:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the General tab, change the number for the Recently Used File List.
  3. Click OK, to close the Option dialog box.


Clear the Recent Documents List

In either version of Excel, you can clear the list, by changing the number to zero. In Excel 2003, you can also remove the check mark from the Recently Used File List setting.

After the list is cleared, you can change the setting to a higher number, to start building the list again.


Pin Items to the List

Normally, the older items in the list drop off the bottom, as new files are opened. In Excel 2007, there's a push pin icon at the right of each file name. To keep a file on the list, click that push pin, to activate it.

This is another one of the Excel 2007 features that I didn't notice until recently. (Maybe that's why it's call the Recent Documents list!) Now I use it quite often, to "stick" files that I'm working with for a few days.

In the screen shot below, the ProjectWorkCurrent.xlsm file is pinned to the list. Instead of the flat grey push pin, there's a vertical green push pin.

That file will work it's way down the list, if it's not opened for a while, but it will stick to the list, and won't drop off.



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5 Responses

  1. Jon Peltier says:

    Ken Puls ( has published a free add-in, XLG Favourites, that provides a nice capability for Excel 2003 (and I presume 2007, since he co-authored the book on RibbonX). It lets you put files and directories onto a list of favorites, and it gives you a lot of flexibility over how the list is displayed.

  2. Ron de Bruin says:

    Hi Debra

    In Win 7 you can add the Excel icon on the Taskbar to open Excel.
    If you right click on the Excel icon it will display also the
    Recent Documents list and you can open the file you want when you click on it.


  3. But the best of all is the “Bookmarks” utility in my PUP add-in. I’m not just saying that because I wrote it. I’m saying that because it’s true, and I use it every day. It’s the best part of PUP, by far. Well, except maybe for “Text Tools.”

  4. Jon, thanks for mentioning Ken’s XLG Favourites add-in.

    Thanks Ron, I’m still using Windows XP, so I’ll have to wait a while to try that tip!

    John, I’ll vouch for your Bookmarks feature. Select a bookmark and it opens the file and goes to the bookmarked cell. Great tool, and I have to remember to use it more often.

  5. Andrew says:

    My 2 cents. File History and New Book Navigator might be worth checking out. Both can be downloaded here.

    I find recording recently used folders a big time saver in addition to recording recently used files.

    Having made my own, I still like Ken’s and John’s. They are very cool!

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