How to fix a broken/empty Jump List on Windows 7
I recently fell foul of an irritating problem on my Windows 7 workstation in my office; the Jump List for Windows Explorer had suddenly emptied itself. I had quite a few pinned locations, and for the next week or so I was frustrated several times a day when I instinctively right-clicked on the Explorer icon to open a frequently-used folder. It’s interesting how quickly you get used to a feature like that.
I tried to recreate my pinned items list by dragging folders to the Taskbar icon, but to no avail. I tried logging off and back on. I tried restarting. I tried sacrificing an iPod under a full moon. Nothing I tried would coax the Jump List back to life. Windows 7 was no longer my friend. Harsh words were uttered.
Teh intarwebs were not much help with this, as either no-one else has had the problem yet, or so few have had it that it hasn’t been discussed yet. Speculating that perhaps the problem was caused by some corruption in the data that stores the Jump List items, I performed a few educated-guess searches of the Registry for hints as to where the data was stored in order to clear it and start again. That failed, but eventually my irritation gave way, and I downed tools to break out ProcMon to try and figure where the damned problem really was.
As it turns out, the data for the Jump List items isn’t in the registry at all, but in the user’s AppData. Specifically, in a collection of files in %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations. There’s one file per application; I had a somewhat magical 42 files in mine. I noted that there is also a similar folder called %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\CustomDestinations, with fewer files in it, and which I suspect contains a cache of Jump List items that have been added programmatically by each application (such as the ‘Play All Music’ command on Media Player’s Jump List.
The files in these folders don’t have particularly useful names, but if you open them in Notepad the contents will give you a clue as to what program each one belongs to (note: don’t edit the files directly). When I compared the folder on different machines it was clear the names are the same for each application.
The file for Explorer.exe was actually the first in the list for me, and is called 1b4dd67f29cb1962.automaticDestinations-ms. The solution was simple; delete the file. As soon as I had removed it, I was able to re-pin folders, the removed file was recreated, and my life was once again sane.