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Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to permanently disable .LNK files created by Windows 7 and Office

This is a good tip, especially for people who use an SSD as their OS drive.

The problem:
Let's say you have a machine with Windows 7 and Office 2007/2010, installed onto an SSD.
Both Windows and Office, by default, keep a history of your most recently used files (MRU in short).
You don't want Windows and/or Office to display any recent files you have opened, both for privacy reasons and to keep your SSD in top shape.

Every time you open a document, an .LNK file would be created for it right on the C:\ drive, which is the SSD. Even though these files are small (1KB), over time they cause a lot of writes to your SSD. So you want to prevent them from ever being created.

Most information on the web suggests that you should do the following:
1. Win7: Right click on the Taskbar -> Properties -> select the Start Menu tab
    Win8: Desktop -> Right click on the Taskbar -> Properties -> select the Jump Lists tab
2. UnCheck both items in the Privacy section, and click OK.

For Office 2007/2010, I've seen this suggestion:
1. Open Word/Excel -> Click on the Orb -> Word/Excel Options -> Advanced tab
2. In the Display section, change the "Show this number of recent documents" to 0.
3. Click OK.

These actions do clean-up the most recently used (MRU) file lists.
However, they don't actually prevent the shortcut .LNK files from being created!!

The solution (Windows 7 ONLY, doesn't work on Windows 8):
1. After you've performed the above suggestions, open the registry (regedit) with admin rights.
2. Go to: HKey_Current_User\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
3. Create a DWORD (32-bit) value called NoRecentDocsHistory with a value of 1.

The MRU lists in both Windows Explorer and Office applications will now be disabled.
No restart required.