Disappearing "Recent Items" menu item

Since upgrading to El Capitan 10.11.1, the "Recent Items" menu item from the Apple menu disappears. Even during a work session, sometimes "Recent Items" is there when I need it, sometimes it disappears altogether.

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Multiple Items on Submenu

Furthermore, when the menu does mysteriously return it has multiple items repeating in the list of the "Recent Items" submenu.

Is this a common El Capitan bug? Should I have done a clean install instead of an upgrade? Any way to fix either problem, the disappearing menu item or the multiple submenu items?

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2 Answers 2


Rebuild LaunchServices Library

From this discussion board I learned to "rebuild the LaunchServices library". I do not understand the details, but this one line executed in Terminal.app does the trick:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Then restart your Mac. Relaunching the Finder is not enough, you must restart your Mac to get back your Recent Items menu.

Good news: It works.

Bad news: The effect is temporary. Eventually (days, weeks) your Recent Items menu will either disappear or develop duplicates.

Because this is only a partial workaround, and not a true fix, I will not mark this Answer (my own) as Accepted. Hopefully someone else might post a real fix.

I suspect, but have not proven, that the real solution is a clean-install. I took some bad advice and upgraded in-place to Mavericks and El Capitan. Next time I do a major upgrade I will go back to the tried-and-true method of a clean install.

  • Update: Seems like this bug has been fixed by updates subsequently issued by Apple. Feb 4, 2017 at 21:29

go to System Preferences > General, the Recent Items usually resets to None.

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    May 19, 2017 at 7:43

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