How to Pin Recent folders or Recent Places to the Navigation Pane in Windows 10 File Explorer

The Recent Places shell folder that showed up under the Favorites area in the navigation pane in earlier Windows OS, is not shown by default in Windows 10. Windows 10’s Quick access (which replaces Favorites in earlier Windows OS) shows the "Frequently" used folders rather than the "Recently" opened folders, even though the Recent Places shell folder still exists in Windows 10.

Recent Places, which is now known as Recent folders, is very useful not just in Explorer but also in Common File Open/Save As dialog boxes in various applications. Today’s post shows you how to:

  1. Pin Recent Places to the Quick access
  2. Pin Recent Places as a separate item in the Navigation pane.

Pinning Recent folders in the Quick access area

Open File Explorer and type shell:::{22877a6d-37a1-461a-91b0-dbda5aaebc99} in the Address Bar. Press {ENTER}, and this opens the Recent folders shell folder. Click the Pin to Quick access button in the ribbon, to pin it in the Quick access area. The pinned item can be moved by dragging to the top of the Quick access hierarchy if you want.

Fig 1: Recent folders Pinned to Quick access, shows up in File Explorer

After pinning Recent folders, only File Explorer shows the item but not the Common Dialogs. i.e. Open/Save As or the the Browse dialog boxes from various applications.

Fig 2: Open dialog from Notepad application, not showing Recent folders

To make the Common Dialogs show Recent folders, we need to amend the Attributes shell folder value (SFGAO). I’ve made available the REG file that does it easily. Download Pin_Recent_Places_Quick_Access.zip, unzip and run the enclosed REG file. Logoff and login back, or do a clean restart of the explorer shell.

Fig 3: Open dialog from Notepad application, showing Recent folders

What the REG file does?



This registry file creates the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{22877a6d-37a1-461a-91b0-dbda5aaebc99}\ShellFolder

and creates a DWORD (32 bit value) named Attributes, and sets its data to 0x30040000

Pin Recent folders as a separate category, next to Quick access.

If you don’t use Quick access, or have already removed Quick access section from the navigation pane, you can pin Recent folders as a separate category, above This PC. To do this, download Pin_Recent_Places_Separate.zip, and run the enclosed REG file. Logoff and login back, or do a clean restart of the explorer shell.

Recent folders should now show as a separate category in the navigation pane of File Explorer as well as in the Open/Save As / Browse dialogs.

Fig 4: Recent folders pinned as a separate category.

What the REG file does?

This registry fix makes use of the System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree DWORD value to Pin shell folders as a separate category, sets Attributes to 0x30040000, and adds the Recent folders GUID {22877a6d-37a1-461a-91b0-dbda5aaebc99} to the Desktop Namespace. The registry files referenced in this page change settings only for the current user profile. And if you want to reverse the changes, simply run the corresponding undo.reg file.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

25 thoughts on “How to Pin Recent folders or Recent Places to the Navigation Pane in Windows 10 File Explorer”

  1. Pin_Recent_Places_Separate works great, and shows up in many programs including MS Office. But it does not show up in other programs, such as Adobe Acrobat Pro (8.3.1). Unfortunately, Pin_Recent_Places_Quick_Access does not seem to add anything to my Quick Access in any program.
    Thanks for providing this blog, I’ve always enjoyed reading your tips.

  2. @Ed_D, I’ve implemented the same under “Wow6432Node” key. It should work in all apps now, 32-bit and 64 bit.

  3. Wow6432Node I don´t understand. I have Windows 10 64-bit and I want to reach RecentPlaces in Save as …

    Regedit, Yes, HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID, New, key {22877a6d-37a1-461a-91b0-dbda5aaebc99}, New, 32-bit DWORD, Name: set name to Attributes, change, Data: 0x30040000 (hexadecimal), does not work for me …

    What am I doing wrong? Kindest regards

    Stefan

    • @Stefan: You may try the REG fix attached to the post. That’ll do it all automatically.

  4. You’ve literally saved me untold minutes each day. I have no idea why they decided to remove it from the standard file explorer. I use that link hundreds of times every single day. Thank you.

  5. Like Brandon K says, I feel the same way. This fix has removed a major frustration and time wasted getting to folders. I’m not a techie or power user or anything like that, but since Win10 been in my life I feel like I’m not in the MS target group and maybe just a bit too smart for their products. Ramesh, thank you for providing this information.

  6. Thank you thank you thank you! I’m a designer who is constantly navigating to folders galore: saving-as, attaching, exporting…access to Recent Folders is paramount to my productivity. You deserve a gold star. 🙂

  7. Thanks. Atleast got Recent Folders into the navigation bar. Cant edit registry due to company polices. Would have liked to have that in save dialogue box as well. Wonder why this feature was removed in windows!!!

  8. I cannot understand why Microsoft seems to go backwards with each new release – It is very fortunate that there are philanthropic enthusiasts like you to help the rest of us try to reverse the worst of their ‘improvements’!

  9. Another big thanks from me. Baffling why MS don’t include this in 10. This and the jump lists are one think I miss hugely when using non-windows OSs.

  10. I was able to successfully add Recent Folders to the QuickAccess but it’s always empty. It’s not actually creating recent places in that folder for me to see. Any ideas? Thanks!

  11. I found this trick to be very useful. When doing a “Save As” and you don’t see the most recent folders you were working on, right click on the slanted Star icon in the “Quick Access” bar at the top left, and select “Pin Current Folder to Quick Access”, even if the current location is not what you want, the old “Recent Folders” and “Recent Files” folders we have all been looking for comes back. If you actually drilled down to the folder you wanted, it will now be pinned for future quick access. However, it doesn’t matter where you are, this right click and selecting “Pin current folder to quick access” will always pull up the two recent folders and files icons we are all pining for – temporarily at least.

    Like many of you, this single lack of what was probably the MOST useful feature in previous versions is the source of endless swearing around my office. How MS could eliminated this is unfathomable. Offering a fix by going to regedit is not an option for corporate users with locked down machines. So we have to spend about around 30 seconds and a dozen mouse clicks to drill down our directory structure when doing a save as to the same darn location we just saved to 5 minutes ago, each time…

  12. Just installed Windows 10 yesterday and missed these Recent Folders already the first day working. Thanks for this tip, you have made my day :).

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