Windows 7 Start Menu Feature: Recent Files and Browsing History


I’ve continued to tinker with the Windows 7 beta and like the little usability touches that offer a better experience. Take the new Start menu for example. Next to the Internet Explorer shortcut is a little arrow. Simply hovering over it or tapping it causes the menu to expand to the right. Your recent browsing history appears in the expanded area, making for a quick click if you wanted to navigate to a recently viewed website or page.

Windows 7 Start menu with IE Browsing History

Windows 7 Start menu with IE Browsing History

The same goes for other frequently used applications that appear in the Start menu as well. Paint is right above Internet Explorer in my menu; you can’t see the same little arrow in the shot above, but it was there after I saved a file in Paint. Clicking or hovering over it offers me a list of the Recent files used with the application. Very nice!



I have a question. In windows 7 recent folder all you see is recently modified with the date last modified. Is there any way to see recently viewed with the time and date like in Vista? What I’m trying to be able to see, for example, is the date and time last viewed for any video files. If possible, every date and time a video file was viewed?


But what constitutes a recently opened document, such that it shows up to the right of the Start menu? For instance: I have a (Excel 2007) file I access daily…once I’ve opened Excel, it shows up at the top of its list of recent docs, but it won’t show up in the Start menu/Excel recent docs whether I open it from Explorer, via Excel, or even do a ‘find’ within the Start menu and launch it there. I see this in all of the Start menu recent docs, not just Excel…some recently opened docs don’t seem to qualify for inclusion and I can’t seem to determine its standards.


i got windows 7 on my new computer and i have the VZAccess mangaer as well. i tried changeing the compatability settings but it still dosent work. is there anything else that could be stoping it from working?


i have been using window 7 beta version for a while but quiet unhappy with the way internet explorer get hanged while i try to open heavily loaded websites and just not finding any way to rectify this minuscule puzzle.
Is there anyone who step up to give nice and good solution for this problem??


i know this is old but,

@ gmazin
quote: “other than the still-inferior-to-xp network connection manager. (IMO, of course)”

I just wanted to point out that the xp connection manager has been available in all later releases of windows. There’s just one(or two) extra step(s) of getting there.

Joe Roehrig

Got my verizon usb 150 to work using vista usb 175 version
6.10.10 2247 b


This is a Windows 7-related topic, I’m posting here for now since it’s a Windows 7 article.

Anyone know how to get VZAccess Manager to work on Windows 7? I don’t have a Internet connection at home, I’ve been using Verizon mobile broadband. I installed VZAccess Manager on Windows 7 and when I try to activate it, it says WWAN is not turned on, and I have no way to turn it on. My master wireless switch is on, and a simple reboot to Vista lets me connect to mobile broadband with no problem. It’s frustrating since if I don’t have Internet access I can’t effectively work in Windows 7 and check out its features and provide feedback. Thanks for any answers.



What I meant is that I’d love to see some citations of that claim, because I’ve not seen or ready any indication to even hint or suggest that.

I didn’t literally mean it’s gone, gone… I know it’s still technically there through registry edits… but I meant it’s gone from public view. For most users and practical purposes, it’s gone.



directly from the devs that work directly with MS (MS gives devs an idea of future UI changes so they can have their programs ready by time of launch). keep in mind these are real devs (Adobe, Acronis, etc) not lowpro programmers

QL is still in the code & can be reenabled. hell, even the placement is still located in the user profile.


Mickey, that’s what Private Browsing mode is for! ;) lol

For the paranoid, though, one of the start menu options is to shut off recent program and file tracking. :) Then, programs that support active jump lists (like Messenger and Media Player) can show their quick-actions without the mess of the documents.

Mickey Segal

This way of looking at recent browsing history is a great way for someone else to take a quick peek at your browsing history.


I did set it to 0 but it still doesn’t want to open until the mouse stops


I think you can set the registry setting as low as 0 which is pretty much instantaneous.


I did the registry hack, but it seems I still need to stop my mouse before the timer begins. I was hoping to be able to “bounce”. go to icon, quickly select window.

I submitted feedback but more people wont hurt.


Kevin your article took me aback there for a second until I realized you had Chrome as your default browser so it’s down there in your Taskbar instead of IE. I was like “Hasn’t he figured out the new Taskbar yet?”. :-)

Being a long time NeXTStep/Mac OS X user/developer I applaud Microsoft’s attempts to modernize their task bar in Win 7.


PS– if you actively click on the taskbar icon rather than hover, it also triggers the preview popup immediately. :)


Thanks gmazin, that’s some good feedback about the text labels, and certainly it’s the most specific I’ve seen… out of curiosity, did you submit that feedback? If not, I’ll be happy to submit a feature request for it.

As for moving the inactive icons out of the road, keep in mind that if it automatically put the active in one place and inactive in another, your icons would be bouncing around like a rabbit, and you’d have a much harder time keeping track of where things went. The current method improves muscle-memory by allowing you (and your hands) to quickly know where the icon is.

Also, remember that you’re in control of the icon placement too, so drop the icon in the order of your own preference. I group them by multimedia (Zune, Paint.NET), Internet (Firefox) and Windows Live, and then Office 2007 and Adobe Creative Suite.


GoodThings2Life, What I don’t like is that you can’t group and show text simultaneously. For example, if I’m talking to multiple people, I can’t tell who just sent me an IM without mousing over the icon and seeing rather than just glancing at the icon. Same things apply to word documents, if I’m working on a multi page project, I have to mouse over and pause for the window to pop up (if I could make the pop-up instantaneous this wouldn’t be an issue).

Of course I can solve both of these issues by “never grouping” but then my next complain is now it doesn’t move inactive icons out of the way. It looks ugly (and I have launched an application instead of maximizing a window because of this) to have small icons taking space in between of larger icons. They should allow you to move all inactive applications to the left or to the right of the active ones.

Of course, I can take my time, but that isn’t exactly efficient. I work on a PC, I don’t work by the hour, so speed matters.


@Mtoc, I have no idea where you’ve heard your rumors OR what you’re smoking (joke), but the quick launch is already gone, and I’ve heard nothing to even suggest that they’re revamping the system tray area any more than they have.

The only thing I’ve heard suggested is that they add further functionality to the Libraries, tweak some of the visuals on both the superbar and system tray, and continue working on performance and show-stopper bugs.


I’ve been using this feature a lot and absolutely loving it… and this is from an XP guy who has HATED the “Recent Documents” menu on the Start Menu since it appeared in Windows 95. (In fact, I have always turned it off instead favoring the in-application recent file menus.)

Actually, I find it interesting the number of people who– like gmazin– seem to dislike the Superbar.

*Most* of the complaints are generalized “it’s different, so I don’t like it” mentality, so they spend all their effort working against it which of course validates their opinions in their own mind.

But I’ve been pressing everyone who says they hate it to be precise and explain why in specifics, and no one has yet been able to provide a reason other than “it’s different.”

“It requires more steps to do things,” is the most common excuse, but it’s simply not true, and believe me I’ve tried looking for examples. In fact, with only a handful of minor exceptions (the most notable I’ve found being adjusting network adapter settings), everything takes exactly the same steps as XP *or* 1 click *LESS*. The few exceptions I’ve found so far require exactly 1 click more… like Network Adapter settings which requires 3 instead of XP’s 2 and Vista’s 11.

Actually… I’ll admit… I hate the Network Sharing Center. It is still the only idea dumber than Microsoft Bob, but at least they’ve made it 3 clicks instead of Vista’s 11 (as I said above), AND I submitted a feature request about it to re-add the “Change Network Adapter Settings” and “Change Windows Firewall Settings” options back to the right-click icon for the system tray icon.

Now here’s the thing… I’m definitely a power user, so every click and every mouse gesture counts in terms of productivity and efficiency. Worse, if I can’t click/mouse/key-shortcut my way to where I want to be in less than 5 steps, then I know it’s too cumbersome for end users too.

Fortunately, if people stop fighting the new steps, and spend a half-hour or hour learning the new steps, they would probably be a whole lot happier with it than not.


That’s assuming, Kevin, that people still use IE by the time Win7 Gold comes out?

Won’t necessarily be a big selling point in the EU, either…

As for the rest of the OS, well, we’ll just wait and see what usefulness disappears between this Beta and the Gold, shall we?


the addition of jumplists & right-click taskbar icons for limited functionality was a very clever idea by MS.

the rumor going around is that MS plans on dumping both the quick launch & system tray by final release. they claim the quick launch has been replaced by pinning programs to the taskbar (which is NOT true at all, W7 implementation is far more limited). the system tray is supposedly being replaced by being able to right-click taskbar icons for limited functionality (which is exactly what the systray is & much more true). dont be surprised if the start button/orb isnt what youre used to by final release either.

W7 is an impressive Beta, but really isnt even close to what the final versions will be. keep in mind, MS doesnt want W7 to resemble Vista at all (and i dont just mean dropping Aero, everybody already knows that will come at the end).

brook Zerihun

ok, so what about the Samsung Q1UP, I installed W7 and would love to see your take on the build for the UMPC. The only thing not working is the Web Cam, everything else works. Would you consider the challenge of installing on the Q1?


What you’ve described is the way the taskbar’s Jumplists appear on the Start Menu. It’s the equivalent of right clicking on or dragging up from a taskbar shortcut.


I like the little improvements too, but I just cant get used to the taskbar. Even if I make small icons and disable grouping… I’m just too used to the standard Windows taskbar. If they gave an option for using the Vista taskbar I would have no qualms with W7, other than the still-inferior-to-xp network connection manager. (IMO, of course)

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