What Is the MRU List?

By Casey Anderson

MRU lists contain a history of recent activity on a computer. For example, an MRU list may contain a recently opened document or webpage. Generally MRU lists do not pose a threat; however, it does make it easier for other people to view your files or personal information if there are multiple people accessing the computer.

MRU Lists

The MRU in MRU lists stands for "Most Recently Used." The MRU list is a Windows-based application that includes registry of recently opened webpages, documents, files, images and other applications. For example, when a computer user opens Microsoft Word, she may see a list of previously opened Word documents within the application. That would be an MRU List. The lists serve no other purpose than to track application use and do not perform any basic function on their own. Therefore removing or disabling an MRU list will not affect your computer or operating system.


Generally MRU lists are harmless and can be quite handy for accessing frequently used documents and files. However, when you want to keep recent activity private, or you share a computer with other people, MRU lists become a security issue. If the recently accessed application contains personal or financial data, there is a risk that an authorized person or persons could access your information.

Disabling MRU Lists

Removing an MRU list is easy to do if the user only wishes to remove it from a certain application. However, for security or privacy reasons, some users may wish to stop the creation of all future MRU lists. To stop the lists, in Windows, right click on "Start" then access "Properties" and go to the "Start Menu" tab. Click on the "Customize" button, choose the "Advanced" tab and uncheck the "List My Most Recently Opened Documents" box to stop creating the MRU lists.

Registry Removal

Removing MRU lists through the registry takes a good working knowledge of the computer registry and its functions. Therefore it's important to note that only advanced computer users should remove the MRU files.