How to Prevent VLC from Saving Recently Viewed Videos on Mac

The recent files list in VLC is designed to provide convenient shortcuts to the audio files you recently listened to or the videos you recently viewed. But if you want to prevent VLC from adding files to the Open Recent menu item, you can. Here's how.
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The VLC media player has been my go-to music and video player for years. It’s free and open source and supports a huge range of filetypes and codecs. It also offers a lot of flexibility in customizing it. But that flexibility adds some complexity, and it’s not always easy to find where to change the setting you’re trying to change. This is one of those very simple little tweaks that you might want to do–but it’s also not quite as self-evident as it could be.

The recent files list in VLC is designed to provide convenient shortcuts to the playlists or audio files you recently listened to or to the videos you received viewed. But if you want to prevent VLC from adding files to the Open Recent menu item, you can.

Most of the instructions I came across were for Windows or were old. But recent versions on Mac do things slightly differently, so you have to go digging a little further. It’s still entirely possible and easy to do–you just have to know where to look.

Here’s how to do it:

In VLC, open Preferences by going to VLC > Preferences in the top menu or pressing ⌘, (that’s the Command key and a Comma at same time).

Click on the Interface Icon from the top.

VLC Preferences 1

Click on the Show All button at bottom left.

VLC Preferences 1

You’ll then a much more comprehensive preferences panel. From the left panel, expand the Interface item. Then you want to do the same for the Main Interfaces subitem. And then go to the macosx item.

Vlc preferences macosx panel

Scroll down to the Keep Recent Items option. By default, it’s checked. Uncheck it.

Vlc preferences keep recent items

Hit Save.

And you’re done!

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9 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this; it was very simple to follow (effective and efficient)!

    After I followed your instructions, I went to File, Open Recents and Clear Menu, then quit VLC and removed it from my dock, then added it again, seems to have taken care of everything! Thanks again!

  2. Hi David,
    Thank you for this, it drove me nuts till I found your article. I am on Mojave as there seem to still be a lot of issues with Catalina & this worked. Your shots were easy to follow.
    10 + for your effort !!

  3. This is old. I have Mac Catalina and VLC, and this version does not have the windows described in this article. There is an ability to “clear the menu,” under Files > Recent > Clear Menu, but what if you want to stop it recording them altogether? There doesn’t seem to be any way to do that, following your instructions because the interface is totally different. “The more things change. . .” and all that.

    1. I just tried with Mac Catalina 10.15.6 and VLC v., and it’s working for me. The screens look a bit different, and the Keep Recent Items options has been moved a bit further down the screen under the Behavior heading. I’ll update the screenshots.

  4. Hi. This solves the issue with recent files, but the Media Library on the left still shows every video I’ve ever watched, and there appears to be no way to clear it or not show it. Am I missing something?

  5. Thank you – after coming across lots of out of date stuff, your helpful screenshot illustrated explanation of where to new version hides the turn off save recent files sorted me out

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