Clear recently used programs in Start Menu in Windows 7

As you use more and more programs in Windows 7, it puts a shortcut to recently used program in the Start Menu. There is no official method to clear this list. But there is a workaround to clear this recently used programs list shown in the Start Menu. Here is how :

Important : Since you are going to make changes to your Windows registry, it is highly advised that you create a backup of registry files using the free tool ERUNT. So that, if you somehow end up in messing up your registry, you can always restore it from the backup.

This process requires you to have administrator privileges. The process is finished in two parts —

  1. Deleting part of registry keys holding the recently used programs data.
  2. Restoring the default values so that your Start Menu looks like when you first installed Windows 7. To do this we will create a new dummy account. Because every new account is created with the default values, therefore we will get default registry key values from this new dummy account. Use these values in our actual user account and delete the dummy account.

Part 1 — Deleting registry keys

  1. Press the key combination Windows logo key + R to open the Run dialog.
  2. In the Run dialog, type regedit and press Enter to run the Windows Registry Editor.
  3. In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key :
  4. You would find a subkey named UserAssist. Right-click on UserAssist and choose Delete to delete the subkey.

    Deleting UserAssist registry key in Windows 7

Part 2 — Restoring default values

  1. Create a new dummy user account as explained in : how to create a new user account in Windows 7. Use any username for this new account. You should create an administrator account so that you can save files anywhere on your hard disk.
  2. Log off from your current account by choosing Start Menu → Shutdown → Log Off as shown.

    Log off from your account in Windows 7

  3. After logging off, you would see a new logon screen with your newly created dummy user account listed. Click on the new dummy user account to logon to that account.
  4. Once logged on to the new dummy account. Open the Windows Registry Editor (as explained in Part 1 above) and navigate to the following registry key :
  5. Right click on the subkey UserAssist and choose Export. Choose destination file somewhere you can access easily, for example, C:UserAssist.reg.

    Exporting UserAssist registry key in Windows 7

  6. Log off from the dummy user account. Then logon to your actual user account.
  7. Double-click on the file saved in step 5 above. Choose Yes when asked.

    Merging UserAssist registry key in Windows 7

  8. Delete the dummy user account we had created in the beginning as explained here : how to delete a user account in Windows 7.
  9. Log off and log back on to your user account for the changes to take effect.
  10. That’s all. Now you have not only cleared the Start Menu recently used programs list, but also restored it back to the default values. You can keep the file saved in the step 5 for future use.