Turn off or limit the Recent Documents feature in Ubuntu

By | July 7, 2009

If you want to turn off the Recent Documents feature in Ubuntu, all you have to do is create a .gtkrc file in your home directory (if one isn’t already available):

touch ~/.gtkrc-2.0

Now paste this line in there:


The next time you start Gnome and click on files, the respective files won’t appear anymore in Places > Recent Documents.
To limit the number of files that appear in Recent Documents, use


instead (replace 3 with the number of files you wish to show).

13 thoughts on “Turn off or limit the Recent Documents feature in Ubuntu

  1. Pingback: HowtoMatrix » Turn off or limit the Recent Documents feature in Ubuntu

  2. Pingback: Turn off or limit the Recent Documents feature in Ubuntu | Ubuntu-News - Your one stop for news about Ubuntu

  3. Juan

    BUT this is NOT exclusive to Ubuntu… This works for any distro using GNOME. 😉

  4. Fabian

    this trick does also affect the “recent documents” in open office & co, doesn’t it?

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  6. alfred

    Nice… works in Karmic too. Best of all it also removes the Recent list in Totem.

  7. Mauricio

    I wish increase the limit, for 12 files, fbut edit gtk-recent-files-limit=3 in .gtkrc-2.0 don’t works. How did?

  8. Sildoreth

    You probably have to restart your computer for the changes to be applied. If that doesn’t work, check if you have Gnome 2.0 or higher; the name of the file you created is .gtkrc2.0. Also, if you want the maximum number of files to be 12, you would want to put “gtk-recent-files-limit=12” in your .gtkrc2.0 file.

  9. since this is the #2 google hit

    it seems like a good place to point out that this constantly-repeated “method” is NOT true at all.

    all these options do is HIDE the “old” / “excess” entries from the gnome “recent files” dialog, and even then the gnome docs explicitly say apps are free to ignore the user’s instructions any time they feel like it. the spyware^W – sorry, “full history” – is still there in ~/.recently-used.xbel

  10. nooby

    Here is the best working solution i have yet found:
    First delete .recently-used.xbel (and all its lists if there are any).
    Then create a folder with the exact same name aka.
    mkdir .recently-used.xbel
    You’re done. Because the data to be stored will be sent into this folder, it will give an error and the data is lost. You can actually see this by opening gedit or eog (eye-of-gnome) in the terminal.
    It will give you a read complaint upon opening and a write complaint upon closing, which means no data ever got saved (or read).

    Btw while you’re at it, make the ~/.thumbnail folder read only, and you actually made a giant leap for security.


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