Easy ways to clear Windows 10 usage history (for apps, File Explorer, and Start search)

Windows 10 operating system has several ways to search for usage history in your machine. This tutorial will tell you how to delete usage history for your apps, File Explorer, and Cortana or Start search.

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How to clear App Usage History

In order to provide users a tool to view installed and running apps in the system, Windows provide the Task Manager. This tool gives detailed and significant real time information what’s going on with the critical components of your machine. It also makes it easy to track what apps are running, as well as a complete history of all apps you’ve used so far.

Whatever your reasons are for tracking app usage in your machine, the task manager is there to give them to you. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Right-click on the taskbar. This is the bar that you see at the bottom of the scren.
  2. Once the pop-up menu opens, select Task Manager. Alternatively, you can also press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC.
  3. Once that Task Manager has opened up, click on the App history tab.
  4. Click on Delete usage history at the top.

Clicking on Delete usage history link will reset the usage clock for each app. If you’ve noticed, there are four columns to the right of the list of apps: CPU time, Network, Metered network, Tile updates. If you want to check which of your apps are using the CPU all the time, the CPU time column should provide you with such information. If you want to know which of your apps are constantly using the network, just click on the Network tab to sort the list.

How to clear File Explorer Usage History

File Explorer, also known as Windows Explorer, is an application that you can use to search for files and folders within Windows. If you noticed, whenever you click on the down arrow or start typing in the address bar field of File Explorer, a list of previously searched items and URLs appear. That’s because File Explorer application keeps track of the things you’ve searched and displays the most recent ones to hopefully make it easier for you to just click on them later on. While such feature is designed to be harmless, those who are concerned about their privacy, especially if they’re using a public PC, might find it unacceptable. If you want to know how to clear File Explorer history, consider doing the following steps:

  1. Open File Explorer. You can do that by clicking on the Start menu and typing file explorer. Alternatively, you can just open any folder.
  2. Click View at the  the top-left section of the File Explorer window..
  3. Click Options to open Folder Options menu.
  4. Click General tab if you’re not already there.
  5. Under Privacy section, click on Clear button. This action will delete your recent searches from the File Explorer app.
  6. Click OK at the bottom.

If you want to hide your future search history in File Explorer, you can do so by doing these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer. You can do that by clicking on the Start menu and typing file explorer. Alternatively, you can just open any folder.
  2. Click View at the  the top-left section of the File Explorer window..
  3. Click Options to open Folder Options menu.
  4. Click General tab if you’re not already there.
  5. Under Privacy section, uncheck the boxes for Show recently used files in Quick Access and Show recently used folders in Quick Access.
  6. Click OK at the bottom.

How to delete File Explorer history thru the registry

Another way to delete your File Explorer history quickly is by using the registry editor. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Create a backup of the registry
  1. From the Start menu, in the search box, type regedit.exe, and then press Enter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  2. Click File > Export.
  3. In the Export Registry File dialog box, select the location where you want to save the backup copy to, and then type a name for the backup file in the File name field.
  4. Click Save.
Step 2: Delete File Explorer history thru the registry
  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Word\WordWheelQuery
  3. If you’ve used your File Explorer to search for something before, there should be a list of numbered values in the right pane. Each of these numbers is the term that you searched. If you want to know what a particular number is, just double-click it.
  4. If you want to go ahead and delete each item one by one, just right-click on the value and hit delete.
  5. If you want to simply delete all the searches in one go, right-click on WordWheelQuery key and select Delete.
  6. Close the Registry Editor by going to File > Exit or by clicking the “X” in the upper-right corner of the window.

How to clear Start Search History

Just like when clearing File Explorer history, clearing Cortana’s searches is as easy as following these steps below:

  1. Click the Cortana search box. This should be on the left side of the taskbar symbolized by magnifying glass icon. If you don’t have the Cortana search box, right-click on the taskbar, select Cortana, and click Show search box.
  2. Click the Settings (gear) icon on the left side of the Cortana window.
  3. Click on Clear my device history below My device history.
  4. Click Search history settings below My search history. Doing so will open up a Bing page that lists all your searches. If your computer is not online, you won’t be able to view this page.
  5. Click Change history settings at the top of the Bing page.
  6. Click Clear all button in the Clear search history section.
  7. Click Yes to confirm that you want to clear Cortana’s search history completely.


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