Recent Files

Beginning with version 8.0, Start supports the display of „recent files“, giving you quick access to the files you last opened.

How does access to recent files work?

Similar to how applications are displayed in Start, recent files are also sourced from Spotlight. Start monitors the folders you specify for changes to the file attributes "last opened" (and/or optionally "content changed"). The "last opened" file attribute is automatically updated by macOS when you open a file. Start generally considers the last 15 days.

Activating the display of recent files

To use the display of recent files, you need to make a few minor entries in the settings of Start. These are explained below. Simply put: you need to tell Start which folders to monitor for changes (such as your user directory) and then activate the "recent files" category.

We will now go into more details on further settings and tips. So let's get started …


Search Scopes


The most important setting are the search scopes. Here you define which folders Start should look in for changed files. For every folder listed, all subfolders are automatically included as well.

Theoretically, you can specify any folder on your system here (as long as it's indexed by Spotlight). But from practical experience, it makes sense to use folders where your files are actually stored. For example, if you specify the root directory, you ensure that every file modified anywhere is tracked. However, this results in a huge number of files being reported, and the background analysis takes correspondingly long (Start shows only the last 50 files, but has to evaluate everything...).


Excluded Folders


Search Scopes scan all saved folders including subfolders. Individual folders can be excluded from the search in the "Excluded Folders" section. Just enter the subfolders you want to exclude here.


Excluded Extensions


In this section, you can specify file extensions that should not appear in the list of recent files. This is useful, for example, to automatically exclude backup files or similar items.


Excluded Text


This section is rarely used and allows files to be filtered based on text. If this text appears anywhere in the path or filename of a found file, it will be excluded.



If /Backup/ appears anywhere in the path, the found file will be ignored and thus not displayed in the Recent Files.


Activate Category

Once the configuration is complete, you can now activate the category.

Tip: You can also assign a hotkey to the category right away, so later you can access the recent files with just a simple keystroke.


Advanced Settings

To find recent files, Start uses a query with Spotlight. It considers two different parameters: when the file was last opened, and when the content of the file was last modified.

By default, Start looks at the "last opened" parameter.

You can customize the search query according to your needs in the advanced settings. The options available are:

  • Last opened in the past 15 days
  • Last opened and content modified in the past 15 days
  • Content modified in the past 15 days


Context Menu

File extensions and folders can also be quickly modified directly in Start in the Recent Files. When you open the context menu of an entry in the Recent Files, you have two options:

Exclude Extension: The file extension of the currently selected file is added to the „Exclude Extensions“, and all files with this extension are removed from the Recent Files.

Exclude Folder: This shows the folders up to the actual Search Scope. If you select a folder, it will be added to the Excluded Folders. The last folder with the red symbol is the respective Search Scope - you can also remove it here.

The fastest way to access your recent files

Set up a custom keyboard shortcut in the settings for accessing your recently used files. This allows you to display the files immediately without having to open Start and then select the relevant category. In Start, you generally have access to the first 9 entries using the keyboard shortcut + 1…9.

Now, with just one keystroke, you can display the recently used files and open one of them directly using 1…9.

It doesn't get any faster than this 😎