Although Windows doesn’t have a built-in “Recent Activities” program, you can still determine if someone was using your computer in your absence without installing monitoring software. You can check your browser’s history, check the event logs in the Event Viewer utility and view the list of your recently modified files to see if your computer was recently accessed. All three methods not only show you what was being accessed, but the date the access took place.
Check Browser Activity
Launch your browser -- such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox -- if it isn't already open.
Press the "Ctrl-H" keys to open the browser's History tab or page.
Search through the recent browser history using your browser's search options. For example, if you are using Google Chrome, scroll down the History page to view the recent activity. If you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer, click on a date to view the websites that were visited on that date.
See Recently Edited Files
Type "Run" on the Windows Start screen, and then select "Run."
Type "Recent" in the Open field, and then press the "OK" button.
Right-click in an empty area of the folder, and then select "Group By." Select "Date Modified" to group the items by the date they were accessed. The most recently accessed items appear at the top of the list.
Open the Event Viewer
Type "Event Viewer" on the Start screen, and then select "View Event Logs."
Double-click the "Windows Logs" option in the window's left pane.
Select a Windows log -- such as "System" -- to view its list of events in the top middle pane. Scroll down the list to the date that you suspect that someone was using your computer, and then click an event on that date to view its details in the bottom middle pane.
- You cannot see the browser history if the browser's private browsing feature is enabled, such as Google Chrome's Incognito Mode.
- Information in this article applies to Windows 8.1, Mozilla Firefox 27, Internet Explorer 11 and Google Chrome 2.0.1700.107. Instructions may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
- Mozilla Support: Keyboard Shortcuts - Perform Common Firefox Tasks Quickly
- Google Chrome: Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
- Microsoft Windows: Internet Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts
- University of Illinois Springfield: Introduction to Windows 8
- Microsoft Windows: What Information Appears in Event Logs? (Event Viewer)
- Instant Fundas: Where is Recent Documents in Windows 8?
- Bennett Adelson: Where Did My Recent Items Go in Windows 8?
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images