Windows Wednesdays – The Recommended List

I have devoted a lot of prose in this series to the upper half of the new Start Menu. It’s about time we looked at the lower half, cryptically labeled “Recommended”. I say “cryptically” labeled because “Recommended” seems like something of a misnomer. An attentive Windows 11 user notices fairly quickly that the list of entries in that section changes constantly. So, what’s up with that?

The short answer is that this section is actually just the latest variant of Windows longstanding “Recent Files” list. Windows has offered users a way to see their most recently edited files at least since Windows 98. (Prior versions may have had it as well, but my memory is a bit foggy, this has proven to be a bit of an obscure feature, and online documentation about it is a bit scarce, so in the interest of brevity, I will plead ignorance.) The Recent FIles list was hidden by default in Windows XP, Vista and 7, but savvy users could make it appear on the Start Menu by turning it on the Start Menu Properties. It was available in Windows 8 and 10, but those versions of Windows required a bit of navigation to get to it in File Explorer. I have read of some shortcuts for getting to it in those versions, but since this blog entry is about Windows 11, I’m not going to ferret out those details.

In Windows 11, the Recent Files list resurfaces in plain sight, with some improvements (in my opinion), as the Recommended section of the Start Menu. When you first bring up the Start Menu, the Recommended section shows the six most recently accessed items, whether they’re files or recently added programs. The items – calling them “files” would be inaccurate here – are sorted with the most recently used first, and, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to customize the sort. (That makes sense in this context.) Click on the “More >” button above and to the right of the list, and the view changes to a scrollable list of your recently used items. In the case of files, they’ll appear if they were merely opened, not necessarily edited and resaved.

If you right-click on an item in the Recommended list, a context menu will appear. The items on the context menu vary depending on what the item points to (remember, items in Recent Files have never been the files themselves, just shortcuts to them), but the one item that appears on all the context menus is “Remove from list”. This gives you some control over what items you see in the Recommended list, but remember that the Recommended list is fluid, updating constantly as you edit files or install software. If there are particular files in the Recommended List that you want to keep close at hand at all times, then your best bet is probably to right-click on them, choose “Open file location”, and create a Desktop shortcut to them. I explained how to create a Desktop shortcut in last Wednesday’s entry, so I won’t go into it here.

All in all, I like the new Recommended section. I’ve always liked having the list of my most recently used files readily visible, and this new way of showing it on the Start Menu dovetails nicely with the way I work.

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