Introduced in Windows 7, Jumplists are linked to a taskbar user experience-enhancing feature that allows users to “jump” to files, folders or others elements by right-clicking on open applications in the Windows taskbar. The Windows Explorer’s Quick Access feature also stores entries in Jumplists.

Two forms of Jumplists are created:

  • automatic entries for recently accessed items, stored in *.automaticDestinations-ms files.

  • custom entries in *.customDestinations-ms files for items manually “pinned” elements (by users or the applications themselves) to the Windows taskbar or an application’s Jumplist.

Each application AutomaticDestinations and CustomDestinations JumpLists information are thus stored in two unique and separated files, of different format:

  • AutomaticDestinations JumpLists files are stored as AUTOMATICDESTINATIONS-MS file, in the MS OLE Structured Storage format. This file format notably contains a DestList stream that acts as a Most Recent Used (MRU) list of shortcut files (.LNK). Each entry in an application AutomaticDestinations JumpList is stored as an entry in the DestList stream, composed of metadata and a LNK-like structure.

  • CustomDestinations JumpLists are stored as CUSTOMDESTINATIONS-MS file, also assimilable to a series of shortcut files.

Applications may handle Jumplists differently, with different entries being created / updated on different actions by specific applications.

Information of interest

As JumpLists are linked to an application, through an AppId, knowledge of the application that was used to open the files can be deducted if the application associated to the AppId is known. A number of AppId are documented in EricZimmerman ‘s JumpList GitHub repository.

JumpLists hold information similar in nature to shortcut files for each file referenced in an application’s AutomaticDestinations / CustomDestinations JumpLists:

  • the target file’s absolute path, size and attributes (hidden, read-only, etc.).

  • the target file Modified, Access, and Birth timestamps, updated whenever the file is “jumped” to.

  • the number of times the target file was “jumped” to.

  • Whether the target file was stored locally or on a remote network share through the specification of a LocalPath or NetworkPath.

  • For AutomaticDestinations JumpLists (only), each entry is also associated with two additional timestamps: the created and last modified timestamps of the entry in the DestList stream. The last modified timestamp is updated whenever the entry is interacted with (file opened, RDP session established, etc.). The created timestamp does not however appear to be reliable.

  • Occasionally information on the volume that stored the target file: drive type (fixed vs removable storage media), serial number, and label / name if any.

  • Occasionally information on the host on which the shortcut file is present: system’s NetBIOS hostname and MAC address.

The timestamps of the AutomaticDestinations and CustomDestinations JumpList files themselves can be an indicator of when the application associated with the JumpList file was interacted with, depending on how the application handles and makes use of JumpLists:

  • The birth timestamp of the JumpList files can be an indicator of when the application was first executed (by the user associated with the JumpList files), if the application automatically populates JumpList items upon its first launch.

  • The last write timestamp is an indicator of when the AutomaticDestinations or CustomDestinations JumpLists were last updated. For applications that automatically and regularly update their JumpLists, this can be an indicator of when the application was last used (by the user associated with the JumpList files).

Specific applications may define custom JumpLists entries that store information of forensic interest. For example, the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge web browsers store the recently closed tabs in their respective CustomDestinations JumpLists.

Remote Desktop Connection mstsc.exe

Remote desktop connections made using the Windows built-in Microsoft Terminal Server Client client (mstsc.exe) will generate an entry in the AutomaticDestinations JumpList. An entry is only created / updated if the RDP session was successfully authenticated and established (even if Network Level Authentication (NLA) is disabled). The entries will be associated with the application identifier 1bc392b8e104a00e.

The DestList last modified timestamp indicates the last time the connection with the remote host was successfully established.

The arguments in the entry for a given connections will reference the remote host by hostname or IP address (/v:"<HOSTNAME | IP>") or the RDP File used for the connection ("<PATH>\<FILE>.rdp").


Eric Zimmerman’s JumpListExplorer and JLECmd tools can be used to process JumpLists files.

Associated KAPE compound module: JLECmd.

# Parses the specified JumpLists file.

# Recursively retrieves and parses the JumpLists files in the specified directory.
JLECmd.exe [-q --csv <CSV_DIRECTORY_OUTPUT>] -d <C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\ | C:\ | DIRECTORY>


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