Microsoft Office programs all have handy recent files lists, the last 50 entries of which are stored in the registry, and which, given sufficient space, can be displayed in the applications themselves. But what if you wanted to retain those file lists for use with particular projects? That was the proposition put forward by a site visitor as the basis of a custom project that never materialised, but which intrigued me sufficiently to delve further. The results are the add-in subject of this page.
Run from Word, the add-in will display the recent file lists for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher (from the same Office version) from which those files can be opened. Nothing remarkable there, you could be forgiven for thinking, as the applications themselves do this, but the benefits here are that you can save complete lists as text files so, for example, the lists of files associated with a particular project may be displayed, edited and saved, and the files themselves opened from the lists.
The initially displayed lists are the lists stored by the applications in the registry. As such lists are limited to 50 items, that is the maximum number of items that would be displayed. Saved files do not have that limitation, so combined lists may be longer than 50 items.
The add-in provides two buttons at the start of the Home tab of the ribbons of Word 2007 and 2010
The first of the buttons begins the process, the other resets the default settings used by the add-in.
As this is a Word add-in the function begins by displaying the stored recent files list from Word. As with all the add-ins available from my web site, on first use (and whenever the option button is checked) a standard disclaimer text is displayed.
Click one of the alternative option buttons to change the selection to Excel, PowerPoint or Publisher. Note that the backgrounds of the userform are colour coded to match the application colour schemes from Office 2010 as a simple reminder of which list you are working with and the captions on some of the buttons are context related to the selected application.
Note that the lists are checked to establish whether the named files are still present at the indicated locations. Any file missing is marked with an asterisk. If you attempt to open a missing file you will see a warning message.
Under the list box is a series of buttons. The appearance of these buttons is context sensitive, thus if you open a saved recent files list, the Save Current Recent Files List is superfluous and therefore not displayed. Remove an item from the list and the list displayed is not stored, so the button becomes visible again.
Inspired by a suggestion from a visitor to the web site, I have produced a function to display and edit custom recent files lists for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher.