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How to Clean Up and Tame Quick Access in Windows 10

Posted by Jim Tanous on July 17, 2019

Like Windows 7 with Vista, Windows 10 was an effort on Microsoft’s behalf exists to improve on the mistakes and criticisms that came with Windows 8, complete with small, biannual updates and mandatory security patches to keep computers safe during everyday use. It isn’t a stretch to say Windows 10 is the best operating system Microsoft has ever shipped, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Like any other operating system, Windows 10 has its fair share of problems and complaints, and some longtime Windows users may take umbrage with certain changes made when shipping the newest updates.

One of the revamped features in Windows 10 is the “Quick Access” view in File Explorer. Quick Access replaced the “Favorites” view from Windows 8.1 and aims to blend user-defined favorite locations—i.e., Desktop, Downloads, and Documents—with an automatically generated list of frequently and most recently accessed files and folders.

Some users may find Quick Access in Windows 10 to be helpful, as it has the potential to keep a user’s most important information easily accessible from a single location, but those who prefer to manually manage their data will likely find Quick Access more annoying than useful. While Quick Access can’t be disabled completely in Windows 10, it can be tamed to the point where it operates similarly to the File Explorer Favorites from Windows 8.1. Here’s how to clean up and restrict Quick Access in Windows 10.The Windows 10 Quick Access settings are found in File Explorer’s Folder Options interface. To get there, open a File Explorer window and navigate to the View tab at the top. Once on the View tab, find and click on the Options button, which by default is located on the far right side of the File Explorer toolbar. This will launch the Folder Options window.

In the Folder Options window, make sure you’re on the General tab and then locate the “Privacy” section at the bottom of the window. These options control how Quick Access populates and displays your data.

If Quick Access has cluttered its interface with files and folders that you think aren’t relevant or useful, the first step you may wish to take is clear everything from Quick Access and basically start over. You can do this by clicking the Clear button, and you’ll instantly see all of your data disappear from the Quick Access interface in File Explorer.

If you prefer to be more surgical in your approach to taming Quick Access, you can always manually remove any file or folder by right-clicking on it and selecting Remove from Quick Access.

If Quick Access has taken the liberty of pinning a file or folder for you and you wish to remove it, the process is similar, except this time you’ll right-click on the item and select Unpin from Quick Access.

These steps will help you clear the files and folders that Quick Access has gathered thus far, but if you stop now, then Quick Access will simply start collecting recently and frequently accessed data all over again. To stop this process and prevent Quick Access from automatically populating itself with your data, you’ll need to also uncheck one or both of the check boxes in the Privacy section of File Explorer’s Folder Options.

The two options — Show recently used files in Quick Access and Show frequently used folders in Quick Access — behave as their names indicate, and will prevent Quick Access from further populating its interface with new files or folders going forward. If you wish to completely limit Quick Access, check both boxes. If, however, you like the idea of having Windows automatically track your most frequently used folders but not your recent files — or vice versa — then check only one of the boxes as appropriate.

Going further, you can avoid Quick Access entirely by changing the default view when you open a new File Explorer window. We’ve discussed this tip in the past but, briefly, simply change the “Open File Explorer to:” option at the top of the Folder Options window from Quick Access to This PC. Once you’ve made your choice on how Quick Access operates, click Apply and then OK to save your changes and close the window.
Just because you’ve tamed Quick Access in Windows 10 doesn’t mean that it’s completely useless. You can still manually pin your favorite folder locations to the Quick Access sidebar for easy access.

To do so, simply right-click on any file or folder in File Explorer and select Pin to Quick Access. The folder will be immediately added to the Quick Access section of the File Explorer sidebar, where you can arrange it among your other manually pinned Quick Access locations by dragging and dropping them into the desired order.

A final note: for those new to Windows, it’s important to point out that manipulating files and folders in Quick Access does not change or alter the original files or folders in any way. Quick Access (along with Favorites and Libraries in previous versions of Windows) acts only as a pointer to the original files on your PC, and removing a file or folder from Quick Access doesn’t remove or delete the original.

30 thoughts on “How to Clean Up and Tame Quick Access in Windows 10”

Chris Harshman says:
I’ve found that you can almost use the Network Locations feature of Windows Explorer in 10 similar to how the Favorites used to work in 8:
– in the left pane click on “This PC”
– right click in the right pane of the part labeled “Network Locations” and select “Add a network location” from the context menu
– there is a silly wizard that you can just click Next twice on
– for “Internet or network address:” enter the UNC path name of the network folder you want a shortcut for then click “Next”
– click “Finish” and you’ll see the new shortcut, which is renameable like the old “Favorites” listed under “This PC” on the left pane
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fapDaddy88 says:
now i can hide all my porn from prying eyes
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Keith Le says:
Quick Access is uncomfortable to use. I like “Windows + D” to open Windows explorer. Thanks your tip
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Gaurav khurana says:
Clicking on clear does not clear all the items appearing under the Quick menu
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Popeye Theophilus Barrnumb says:
What I HATE is the “lag” between accessing something and it showing up in the list. In Win 7, it was added immediately when you accessed it. Win 10 apparently uses some kind of algorithm that is VERY irritating. It seems to be based on how many times you access the folder. And I can’t find any way to change the way it works. Anyone?? (I would also like a few more items in the list — right now it is set at 4)
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Darkmatter Synthesis says:
Is there a way to limit the number of items quick access shows? I have it set up the way I like but it adds in 2 additional folders. I don’t want to uncheck the privacy options because I want it to show 1 extra folder (not 2). That way it can put up my most used folder or file at the time, plus the ones I’ve set.
Thanks!
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Aleex says:
IT WORKS !!! thnx !!!! im real guy
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Yahya Atiya says:
Thanks. Like the QA bar but hated that it added things in automatically based on what IT thought was important.
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Dr Why says:
“just open a File Explorer Window”
What the **** is a File Explorer window and how do you open it?
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Kasper Fredenslund says:
Finally, my explorer looks just somewhat clean again!
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Thomas Sisson says:
I often come to these pages after doing a web search in the hopes of being able to do something I have not figured out. Common sense things like those mentioned in the comments below and just changing the sort order. By default, items added to Quick Launch are listed after any current items in the order they are added. I often wonder if Microsoft engineers actually use Windows in the way it’s set up for regular users. I know many of them use some version of Linux as well as Windows. It’s likely most are also just as comfortable sitting in front of an Apple computer.
Dear Windows Engineer, Look at the options available in the GUI in Linux, then translate those into options for Windows. Don’t disable or hide things because it might confuse grandma. Thanks, Not an Idiot
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soilent says:
I can’t pin a remote folder to quick access. what the hell.
I can’t even pin that folder to the explorer shortcut, pinning it to the start menu is forbidden.
What use are features you can’t use in the first place.
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pnintheup says:
I have several folders in a remote drive that i need “quick access” to and when I add one, it REPLACES the other. It only allows one on that drive! WTF???
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soilent says:
exactly what I was thinking. It’s absolutely backwards. “Designed by me”? go back to the special needs orphanage where you escaped from, unknown dude.
GBC says:
you guys are hilarious…Good points… I am retired from network admin, and infrequently hit these help sites to figure out yet another stupid thing MS does… like the issues in this thread… any way, thanks. Solved the issue for my frustrated friend, now to log off and get back to the Linux box…
Mark Berry says:
Should have read the comments first. The main drawback to Quick Access after upgrading to Windows 10 was that I lost my custom shortcut names. For example, I had a shortcut to “Archived Docs” pointing to a server folder where I keep my e-docs. After the upgrade, I only had a “Docs” shortcut. Based on the “final note” above stating that nothing I do to a Quick Access link affects the original, I opened Properties and typed a new name. Fortunately it failed because the file was in use.
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tomamitai says:
In windows 7 “Favorites” I prepended the shortcut names with numbers to force then to sort as I wanted, but when I upgraded to W10 the numbers aren’t there in Quick Access. If I try to rename the Quick Access shortcut, it renames the actual item, not just the shortcut. So far, I can’t figure out how to sort them into the order I want.
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Somnambulator says:
In 7 you didn’t need to trick 7 into sorting the folders, you could drag and drop them into any order you wanted. in 10 you can do this as well, but you can’t rename them. In your use-case 10’s changes might actually not even impact you lol. For most that used Favorites extensively not being able to rename “folders” in the list is almost deal-breaking and at the least certainly a step backward. I still have yet to see an official MS word or blurb about this in any sense of the term. Ive seen official Quick Access articles but not a single response to the naming issue.
Achille says:
Hi!
How to rename the “Quick Access” text button?
Is that possible to rename the “Quick Access” in navigation explorer pane of Windows 10?
Via registry I managed to rename the “Libraries” in “Αrchives”, but for
Quick Access I failed to find something.
Do you know how?
(I’m sorry for my poor english from google translate) Thank You!!
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em20101 says:
Thanks for the tips!
I do use Quick Access and what I would LOVE is a shortcut to expand it and be at the top of it. Every time I’m in Explorer and I want something from Quick Access, (which is almost always) I have to scroll to the top of the window. I feel irritated at MS every time I have to scroll to get to the top of the quick access folder list. I really wish it was a pull down menu from the menu bar.
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Brice Harris says:
Yet another example of a feature in Windows that could be so useful but gets bogged down in unnecessary (or unimaginative) user constraints. Why remove the ability to rename folders on this list (possible in previous windows versions), why not let users pin actual files or shortcuts?
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Cory Spooner says:
“manipulating files and folders in Quick Access does not change or alter the original files or folders in any way” – this is not true. Renaming a folder in quick access renames the actual folder too, which really sucks. Creating a shortcut to the folder doesn’t help because you can’t pin shortcuts to Quick Access!
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TekRevue says:
You can’t rename folders from the Quick Access list.
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Fadi Rezq says:
Right-click > properties. Rename then OK.
Regardless if that is renaming the Quick Access link or technically renaming the actual folder, the fact that you can’t rename the folders in Quick Access sucks in many ways.
dfgalletta says:
How can we force Quick Access to be … quicker … and actually appear at the top rather than having to scroll UP to find it? That’s how Favorites used to be.
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Theodisc says:
How does one increase the amount of files shown in quick access from twenty to a higher number please? Is this possible to adjust at all?
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Steve says:
OK, but I have an entry on quick access, a folder, which does not exist any more, and it is still listed on Quick access menu. When I click it, of course I get an error that this location no longer exists, BUT when I right click on the folder it does not give the option to “unpin from Quick access. Please help if anyone knows how I can remove this location. Thank You.
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Sora says:
i have the weird problem, that i don’t have permission to remove things from quick access, yet i have permission every where else
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Bben says:
Whoever named this obviously did it as a joke – there is nothing quick about quick access
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Mikael Soltaniha says:
Damn, thanks.
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Dennis, ListsUK says:
Handy post, @tanousjm:disqus /Jim, thank you and all works as per above, except for folders on my networked drives, which Quick Access only seems to want to allow me to have one ‘pinned’ at a time; if I try to add a second network folder to Quick Access, it simply replaces the earlier one.
I have read of at least one other person with the same issue, but appreciate it if anyone can throw any light on it. As a temporary fix I’ve had to create shortcuts to the network folders I want to access and then save those within a local-folder, which I can then ‘pin’ to the Quick Access facility. However, if I have to carry on this way, I’ll also need a fix to rename ‘Quick Access’ to “Drawn-Out and Tedious Access” 😉
Thanks.
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TekRevue says:
Hi Dennis,
I have not seen this issue personally, but I just tested it with Insider Build 10532 and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. With three separately mapped network drives, I was able to pin a folder from each to Quick Access without any problems. Not sure when Microsoft will roll this fix out to the stable version of Windows 10, but you should hopefully see it soon (rumors point to November for the next major Windows 10 update).
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Dennis, ListsUK says:
Thanks Jim, appreciate your efforts – and (for the first time I can think of!) I’ll look forward to a Microsoft update 🙂
eddie says:
Am having the same issue of simply replacing the earlier one. Am gonna try your temporary fix till issue gets fixed.
loloyd says:
I want to know how I could be able to make selective or discriminate files and folders from getting listed in the Quick Access area. There could be some confidential (or let’s say embarrassing) files and folders that you wish NOT to be “seen listed” in the Quick Access area. Windows should offer a way for users on how to manage the behavior of Quick Access listings. 🙂
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brvheart says:
How do you remove “OneDrive” from the Quick Access area?
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David L Dwight II says:
I have an interesting problem. In 8.1 I had shortcuts to the libraries [Pictures, Music, Video, Documents, and a custom Downloads library] rather than just my own personal folders for these. Since I’ve upgraded to 10, it keeps resetting to the latter. Is there any way I can stop this from occuring?
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Terp 66 says:
“Quick” is a real misnomer. I have spent the last 20 minutes just trying to view the files on a memory card. It does not seem to be able to get through the “This PC” without “not responding” . Is there a way to view the attached drives easily?
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Jam says:
I’m having the issue where I can’t pin multiple folders to quick access, doing so just replaces the last one I pinned, therefore only ever leaving me with one folder to access.
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anon says:
I would love to know how I can change the order of the quick access links? It seems that I can’t change the order of the folders.
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