Delete a Company from the QuickBooks Previous Company List

Written by Charlie Russell

QuickBooks maintains a list of the company files that you have opened recently – the Previous Company list. Here’s a pointer on how to remove a file from that list, including a tip about a bug in QuickBooks 2011.

This article was updated on 12/30/2011

QuickBooks will normally show you a list of previously opened company files, either in the No Company Open window, or in the File menu under Open Previous Company.

QuickBooks No Company Open

If you physically delete a company file from your computer, you will still see the name on this list. How do you remove it?

  • Open a company file.
  • Select File then Open Previous Company.
  • At the bottom of the list select Set number of previous companies. This option can’t be selected if you don’t have a company file open.


  • Set the number of companies to 1 and click OK. This clears the list of all files except the one that you have open.
  • Return to the same place and set the number of companies back to 20 so that the program will keep a list of files that you open from this point on.

Note that this is stored per computer – that is, if you reset this on your computer, it won’t affect anyone else’s computer.

Except in QuickBooks 2011…

In QuickBooks 2011, at least through the R5 release (the current one at the time I’m writing this), you will find that if you reset the number of companies back to a higher number, the next time that you start QuickBooks the list will be back just as it was before. Our little trick doesn’t work permanently. What can you do?

This list is stored in the QBWUSER.INI file, which is stored in a folder that is normally hidden by Windows. You can easily edit this file to remove the list.

To do this within QuickBooks:

  • Start QuickBooks.
  • Press the F2 key. This will open the Product Information window.
  • While in this window, press the F3 key. this will open the Tech Help window.


  • Select the Open File tab.
  • Click on the QBWUSER.INI file in the list to select it. DO NOT click on others, as this window lets you select multiple files.
  • Click the Open File button. This will open the file in the Notepad text editor, usually.


  • Look for a section labeled [MRUFILES_STANDARD_STRATUM]. The list of previously opened files follows this. Delete the file names here, then save the file. Do not change other settings unless you know what the effect would be.

If you exit QuickBooks and reenter, the files will not be displayed.

Update for QuickBooks 2012 (and later)

This information was added on 12/30/2011

If you are using QuickBooks 2012 there is a simple way to change this list. Simply click on the Edit List link in the No Company Open window.

QuickBooks 2012

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Sleeter Report since 2011. Charlie can be reached at charlie.russell@sleeter.com

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • I already knew how to reset the Open Previous Company list using the first option but removing it by editing the QBWUSER.INI file totatlly knew to me. I love these behind the scene tips that you give!

  • Thank you, Julia. Many people know about this technique, but I brought this one back to the forefront because many also didn’t understand that it is broken in QB 2011. And it isn’t obvious that it is broken – you do the trick, you look at the list, it is pruned. However, if you EXIT QuickBooks and look at it, the list comes back. That is why we have to go to the INI file.

    I don’t like asking people to edit INI files, but sometimes you have to.

  • Thank you, this was an awesome tip. The fact that multiple databases showed up everytime we opened Quickbooks was confusing to other employees and drove me nuts.
    Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Hello Charlie
    I had Quick Books Pro 2006 till January 2011 and then updated to 2011 Pro. The problem I have is I cannot use the email opton anymore (invoices, P.O.s, reports etc. When I try it says there is no profile set up for Outlook Express but I send/receivce emails daily and it worked before on Quick Books. When I click yes to setup profile nothing happens and if I click no it says Outlook, Oulook Express, Windows Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird could not be found on your computer. Have you got an answer for me? Aaron

    • I ran into the same issue with QuickBooks 2011. One thing to be aware of: in QuickBooks 2011 you must have activated the fee-based email option–this costs about $15 a month. So if you haven’t signed up for this option, you can’t email from QuickBooks. It has been my experience that Intuit tech support staff is mostly unaware of this new fee-based email system, so their advice tends to be wrong. I had to spend a great deal of time with the Business Connect tech support team in India to get to the bottom of this.

      • Ah, yes, Matthew – I wasn’t thinking in that direction. Usually, though, the QuickBooks email option shows as available I thought – but then you have to pay to get it (as you mention). If it doesn’t show at ALL I thought you had to worry about the profile stuff.

        Yes, QB 2011 doesn’t give you free QuickBooks email. Most people don’t get it by paying the fee, most get it as a part of some other subscription such as Payroll, etc. See my older article about this at http://qbblog.ccrsoftware.info/2010/09/quickbooks-2011-and-web-mail/

  • Aaron: It is hard to provide “tech support” via a blog/comment like this – I recommend that you talk to a local advisor (try the “find a consultant” search on this page) or use the Intuit Community. The most likely issue has to do with settings in Internet Explorer in your system, a profile may have to be set there to get this to work.

    Selwyn: Thanks!

  • Thanks, Charlie! I also didn’t know about the ‘behind the scenes’ ini file. Read it in the morning and imagine–later that day!–had someone ask me to remove an old database name that still showed up in 2011. THANK YOU!!! My client was very impressed and so was I!

    Thanks again!


  • In my experience you have to make sure you end all qbw32.exe processes running in windows before you edit the ini. The quickstart feature of version 11 is what causes that .exe to always be running. Just a heads up, if it was mentioned before, my apologies for waste of time.

  • Thank you for this post! I keep a list of QuickBooks issues I need to figure out. This was one of them. I wasn’t even trying to solve it right now, but just checking out your site. Your instructions were simple and very easy to follow. All fixed now! Thanks again.

  • Apparently, this is not considered a bug by Intuit but an intended change to the function. For QB 2010, one of the recent maintenance releases changed the behavior there, too. I teach this as, “Let’s clear the list and confuse the next class” in every first-day session of my quarterly QB classes and somewhere between R10 and R12, this changed. I do not intend to teach students that editing a .ini file is a good practice.

  • I just tried this with my QuickBooks 2011, which I believe updated to R8 on Tuesday. It worked without the work-around in the Tech Help window. Thanks! Those old file names were driving me crazy.

  • Thanks! Just what I was looking for. Not only did you solve an issue I had, but you explained how to do it very clearly.

    I appreciate it.

  • Had a Copy of all data files for my quickbook company on a flash drive( f drive) – navigated to the f drive while in the quickbooks company – and purposefully deleted the data files from the flash drive ( as I had them saved to the hard drive (c drive. ) however something odd happened – the data files were both deleted from the f ( USB flash) and from the hard drive( c). Why did this occur???

    • Marie, without knowing exactly what you did step by step I can’t answer that. Are you sure that both files were physically deleted, or did you just delete them from the list of “previously opened company” files in QB?

  • Thanks for the tip. Perfect. Just updated my motherboard and processor and had to migrate a BUNCH of files over to the new system. Of course, I had to totally reload all of my software, including Quickbooks. This was a little glitch that I very much appreciate your advice on.

  • I accidently clicked on the edit list and removed a company from the list. I didn’t delete it, but I need to access that company again. how do I do that? I am using quickbooks pro 2014.


    • If you are in the “no company open” window, just click the button that says “open or restore an existing company”, then navigate to the location of that QuickBooks company file and select it. Very simple.

  • What is the fix for QB 2016? There is no Edit List option that I am aware of, and I have deleted from the INI file. Closed and reopened QB. It’s still in my list but not in my F2/F3/INI file.

    • Which product, Pro Premier or Enterprise? Which nationality, US or Canada? Hosted version, or on your local system? I just looked at the US version of Enterprise V16, and the link is there.

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