When I click with the right mouse button on the Messages icon on the dock bar, I see there is a "Show Recents" menu item.


When I click on it, the only thing it seems to do is showing me a Finder window. It hides the other windows, and when I click on the desktop, the window I was seeing before re-appears. In my case, I had Safari open, and its window was hidden until I didn't click on the desktop.


What is that menu item supposed to do? Is it working correctly?

Update: It doesn't seem that menu is specific for the Messages application. Dock icons for applications that are not running show that menu item. I don't see it for Mission Control, Launchpad, Downloads and Trashcan. I see that menu item for System Preferences, and Reminders, for example.


2 Answers 2


The official documentation is very thin for messages (it doesn't even have an entry in the Applications section of OS X support online)

It could be working correctly if it's just a stub to allow you to see some recent messages when the application is not running, but that functionality isn't present today. Once you start up the app, the Show Recents menu item in the dock is suppressed and you instead get to show the various windows that the app could have open.

So - it's useless and could get hidden if it's simply a bug or perhaps an update will add this functionality so that it actually shows something that has happened recently since it doesn't show any recent activity at 10.8 build 12A269.

  • I notice the menu item is shown for all the closed applications with an icon on the dock, with few exceptions. It seems it is a system feature, but I doesn't seem to work, if it should show me the recent applications I used. Maybe only Finder supports it in some way. I have two monitors, and at least two applications open in each of them; still, Finder is the only application shown by that menu item.
    – apaderno
    Aug 12, 2012 at 20:14
  • It is quite curious to have something appear across many apps that has no visible function. Apple typically supress that sort of thing in design review before the code makes it to shipping status.
    – bmike
    Aug 12, 2012 at 20:52

I finally found an application for which that menu item does something.

With Coda 2, a text editor for web developers, when I click on "Show Recents":

  • The screen dims, as it happens when using the Dashboard
  • The windows shown in the screen disappear
  • An icon for each of the most recently open files for that application appears


I am now using OS X 10.8.2; it could be that something has been between the moment I asked this question and the moment I answered it. I still don't see anything with Messages, and Contacts. The only difference seems that now the Finder window doesn't appear anymore, not even for applications without recently open files.

As side note, this menu item seems to be shown when "Show All Windows" is not shown; for an open application, "Show Recents" is always replaced with "Show All Windows."


I guess that happens because an application normally shows a list of recently open files in its dock menu, when active.

Now, I wish the applications would be able to say to the OS if the "Show Recent" menu item does make sense for them. An application that usually opens a specific hardcoded file (and only that) should not show that menu item.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .