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Get more from Office 365's Recommended Documents

Office for Windows can have an extra on the Home pane – Recommended Documents which tries to suggest documents you’re involved with. Here’s what’s possible with this feature including how to hide it away and leave more screen space for the things you want to see.

Source: Microsoft

Recent Documents has been in Office for a long time. That’s a longer list of recently opened documents.

It’s quite different from the relatively now ‘Recommended Documents’ which has some welcome improvements over it’s original version.

Microsoft hides away essential details about Recommended Documents and some other Office features.  We’ll put them first so everyone is clear.

It’s mostly cloud related service.  Documents, spreadsheets and presentations must be saved on OneDrive or SharePoint.

In other words, it mostly applies to organizations using Microsoft 365 hosting but it can also appear for Microsoft 365 Family/Home users.

There’s also a software requirement.  The latest releases of Microsoft 365 for Windows, Mac, Microsoft 365 for Apple iOS and Office Online all have support for Recommended Documents.

Office 365 for Windows was last to get the feature.  Monthly Channel users need v 1908 or later. Monthly Channel (Targeted) v 1907. It was added for all users in 2020.

There’s machine learning system scanning documents in the organizations store for documents that are relevant to you. The aim is to make a short list of files that are “… just what you need, saving you time and reducing distraction.”

In a simple scenario.  Work on a document, then let someone else add a comment, share or @mention you.

Microsoft gives examples of documents that might appear in the Recommended Documents list.

  • has had 3 different edits in the last day,
  • you’ve been @mentioned with questions
  • have 5 unread comments in an important presentation your team is working on

That’s pretty vague so it’s really a question of ‘suck it and see’ (try it out).


Each Recommended Document is shown in a little box with four elements.

  • File name but NOT location (pity that).
  • An icon according to the most significant activity and the person involved
  • A timestamp to show how old the activity was.
  • A document thumbnail

A shame there’s no file location visible (not even in the tooltip) because the folder name is often important in identifying the documents purpose.

Extra menu options

The ‘three dots’ menu shows some more options including one that was notable missing from the original version of ‘Recommended documents’. The same menu appears with a right-click on the document thumbnail.

Open – same clicking on the document thumbnail

Open file location — opens the folder in Explorer.

Copy path to clipboard

Remove from list — essential for privacy or just to remove ‘clutter’ from Recommended documents.

Tip: those four options and more are available by right-clicking on a doc in the Recent Documents list.

Hide or Collapse

A very welcome improvement to the Home pane is the option to hide or collapse either the New or Recommended regions.

Look for the little right-arrow next to New or Recommended for You. Click that to show hide those areas.

With both collapsed, there’s more room to see Recent, Pinned or Shared with Me documents – which is what most people want to see and use.

New blank document

A collapsed New section still has a ‘New blank document’ button. A smart move by some ‘softies since that’s far and away the most common new document option.

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