Quickly Open Recent Files

There are many ways to quickly get to your most recently-opened files on your Mac. You can use the Apple Menu, the open dialog from within the app, the Dock, and also the Go menu in the Finder.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Quickly Open Recent Files.

When you need to open a document, chances are it's a document that you are currently working on, that you recently opened. Your Mac makes it very easy to find recent files even if you don't have your Finder window open and right to the file.There are several different ways to do it.

One way is to go to the Apple menu. Under the Apple menu you've got recent items. Here you'll see Applications, Documents, even File Servers listed here. By default it's going to list the last ten of these. You can change this in System Preferences. Under General you can change the number of recent items saved. This is a very convenient way to get to a file you've recently used.

Another way to do it is to use the Dock. You need to know what app you're using. For instance if you're looking for a Pages document you can Control click, hold the Control key down and click on Pages, and in addition to some other items here you also see the most recently accessed documents. So you can jump right to one of those. Selecting one will open Pages and take you right to the document.

Now if you're already running the app, like let's say we're already in TextEdit. You can jump right to some recent items by going to File, Open Recent and it lists your most recent items here and you can just open one of those.

Also in the Open dialogue here notice that at the top in a lot of apps you've got a Recent item here. Click on that and you can see the most recently accessed documents for that app.

So you may know about all those places but here's one place a lot of people don't know about. In the Finder under Go there's a list of recent folders. So you can easily jump to a folder that you've recently visited. A lot of times when you're working on a project it's more important to get to that folder than it is to get to an individual file.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Quickly Open Recent Files”

    2 years ago

    These tips are really useful, thanks

    2 years ago

    Very interesting

    Joel Anderson
    2 years ago

    You can also add an item to the dock, pointing to the Recent Items, and in this way get it to open as a fan or a grid.

    Joan Matsukawa
    2 years ago

    Thanks Gary, never thought of the Apple menu. Re: the above comment – how can you put the Recent Items folder on your dock?

    2 years ago

    Joan: There is a Terminal command. Search for it if you are brave. You can also create a Smart Folder that shows recent documents and then just add that to the Dock.

    Jim S
    2 years ago

    Thanks Gary… Is there a way to exclude, clear, or reset the recent file names that appear under the Dock Right Click method? For example, in Numbers, I wouldn’t want a file named “top secret” to appear in the list even though secured with a password.

    2 years ago

    Jim: Yes. Run Numbers. Go to File, Open Recent. Then use the Clear option to clear out the recents. Then you need to restart the Dock to see the changes — easiest way to do that is to log out and log back in again.

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