In Windows Vista, the Start Menu contains a list of recently used programs that is seen right after the Start Menu button is clicked. (Note that this list is different from the Recent Items List that stores the recently accessed files, and not programs.) The primary purpose of this program is to give the user easy and quick access to the programs that he/she uses most frequently. Typically, right after a fresh installation of Vista, this list contains commonly used programs such as Welcome Center, Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Messenger Download, Windows Media Center, Windows DVD Maker, and Windows Ultimate Extras.

The way this list works is that whenever you launch a program, Vista builds a list of recently run applications on the fly, and ranks them according to the frequency with which they are accessed. However, for privacy reasons, you might want to delete the contents of this list from. This is particularly relevant while using a shared computer when you do not wish the other users to know the programs you access.

Simply carry out the following steps to delete the recently used programs list.

  1. Right click on the Taskbar or Start button, and select Properties.
  2. Select the Start Menu tab.
  3. In the Privacy section, deselect (untick) the Store and display a list of recently opened programs option.
  4. If you want to disable this feature permanently, click OK. Else, if you simply want to empty the recent programs list just this once, click Apply, and then select theStore and display a list of recently opened programs option once again, and click OK.

Related post: How to Clear Recent Documents, Files, Movies, Songs, Items in Windows Vista.