How to Hide or Disable the Recents Folder on Mac

By default, new Macs open a Recent folder when you open a new Finder window. If you don’t want to see your recently used files every time you open a window (or show them in the sidebar), you can hide them or turn them off. Here is how.

What is the Recents Folder on a Mac?

As you may have guessed, the Recents folder in macOS is not an actual folder location. It’s a smart folder that consists of an automatic Spotlight search for your recently used files. Every file you see under Recently Listed is actually in different folders on your Mac. You will only see links to these files in one central location.

You can’t completely remove the Recents folder from macOS, but you can take steps to hide it or disable it from working. Here is how.

Here’s how to use macOS ‘Spotlight like a champ

Here’s how to hide the Recents folder in Finder

While you can’t completely remove the Recents folder, most people may feel satisfied if you hide it from Random View while using the Finder (although there’s a more dramatic step – see the next section).

To do this, focus on Finder by clicking the icon in your Dock. This brings the finder to the fore and makes it the active application.


Next, open Finder Preferences by clicking Finder in the menu bar and then selecting Preferences. Or you can press Command +, (comma) on your keyboard.

Click on

When Finder Preferences opens, click the General tab, then click the menu labeled Show New Finder Windows.

In Finder Preferences, click the Show New Finder Windows menu.

When the menu expands, choose a new folder location that you’ll want to see every time you open a new Finder window. You can choose a different location than Recent, based on your personal preferences. In our example, we have chosen our home folder.

In Finder Preferences, choose a new default location for the Finder window from the menu.

Thereafter, close Finder settings.

Next, we’ll remove the Recent shortcut from the Finder sidebar by default. Open a new Finder window and right-click on “Recent” in the sidebar. From the menu that appears, choose Remove from Sidebar.

In any Finder window, right-click Recently Used and choose Remove From Sidebar.

After following these two steps, you will no longer see the Recent folder in your daily activities. However, it will still be accessible via the Finder’s “Go” menu in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

How to instantly go to locations and folders in OS X.

The nuclear option: completely deactivate the “Recent” folder

The Recent folder is supported by Spotlight. If you’d like to disable the Recents folder entirely, the drastic but effective way to do this is to disable Spotlight searching for all documents on your Mac’s hard drive. The disadvantage of this method is that you can no longer use Spotlight to search for your files. However, you can still use it to launch apps and search for messages, contacts, and other types of data.


If that’s okay, open System Preferences by clicking the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and selecting “System Preferences.” When System Preferences opens, click Spotlight.

In System Preferences, click Spotlight.

In Spotlight, click the “Privacy” tab. A list called “Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations” appears. This allows us to prevent Spotlight from placing files in the Recents folder. Click the Plus (“+”) button to add a folder.

In Spotlight Settings, click the

In the window that appears, choose Macintosh HD from the drop-down menu at the top of the window. This includes all files on your main hard drive. When prompted for confirmation, click OK.

Choose Macintosh HD from the drop-down menu, then click Select.

You will then see “Macintosh HD” in the exclusion list.

You'll see "Macintosh HD" in the list of locations to exclude from Spotlight searches.

If you also want to exclude files from external drives, press the “Plus” button again and add them to the “Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations” list.


Close System Preferences, then open the Recents folder in Finder by selecting Go> Recents. The window should be blank. If files are still listed, they are on external drives. Go back to System Preferences> Spotlight> Privacy and add more drives to the exclusion list.

The good news is you can still use Spotlight to search for other items, including apps, contacts, and messages, but your Recent folder will be empty. Now casual snoopers who might be looking over your shoulder won’t know what you’ve been working on.

Here’s how to use macOS ‘Spotlight like a champ

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