Remove Shortcut Arrows from Desktop Icons in Windows

In all versions of Windows, whenever you place a shortcut on the desktop, it overlays an arrow in the bottom left corner as a visual indication that it’s a shortcut. If you don’t want that arrow, you can remove it in a few different ways. In this article, I will talk about a registry hack and also about a freeware utility that can get the job done.

Delete shortcut icon via Registry

I mention the registry hack first because it’s the fastest and easiest way to get rid of arrows without having to install any third-party programs. It works on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 without any problems. You have to feel a little comfortable using the registry, but it’s really simple.

Click Start and type regedit in the search box. On Windows 8, go to the Start Screen and start typing regedit.


Now navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – SOFTWARE – Microsoft – Windows – CurrentVersion – Explorer – Shell Icons

Note that you may not have Shell icons in Explorer by default. If it’s not there, right-click Explorer in the left pane and select NewKey.

master registration key

A new key will appear in the menu on the left and you will have to give it a name. Now type in Shell icons with the capitalization shown in the screenshot above. Then click on Shell Icons in the left pane and you will just see a key named Default in the right pane. Right click on any white area in the right pane and select NewRope Value.

new string value

Change name to number 29 and press Enter. Then double click on the entry to bring up the key editor. inside Value data go ahead and copy and paste the following:

%windir%\System32\shell32.dll, -50

add new key

Click OK and close the registry editor. Now simply log out and back in or restart your computer and the arrows will disappear from your desktop icons if done right. This will also work on 32 or 64 bit versions of Windows.

Windows Shortcut Arrow Editor

Windows Shortcut Arrow Editor is a nifty little program that I love the most because it not only works on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 32 or 64-bit versions, but also doesn’t require you to do anything with the registry.

shortcut arrow editor

After you download it, simply extract the files and then navigate to the appropriate folder for your operating system and platform. There are 32 and 64 bit versions for Windows 7 & Vista and a similar version for Windows 8. After running the EXE file, you will get a simple dialog box as shown below where you can choose one of four options.

remove the shortcut arrows

The classic arrow is a smaller arrow than the default one, and you can also choose a custom image if you want something other than the one shown on the icon. The cool thing about this program is that you don’t even need to log out for it to work. When you select the radio button, the screen will automatically be updated and you will see that the arrows have disappeared.

Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover

Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover basically take the registry hack and bundle it into a small program. This little freeware app is by no means a gorgeous piece of software with loads of features etc, but again, it’s usually simple apps that people love. The only downside is that it only works on 32-bit versions of Windows.

remove shortcut

The program is very simple to use and it does a very good job. You can shrink the arrow size for arrow shortcuts, or remove them entirely from your icons. Choose one of four options from the list and click Application. You can also check the box at the bottom, which will remove the word “shortcut“When you create a new desktop shortcut.

Now, log out of your computer and log back in. Your arrows will disappear or decrease in size. I also tried to run this program on Windows XP, but it doesn’t let me.

If you want to remove the shortcut arrows from your Windows XP desktop icons, you’ll need to check out my post on Tune Windows XP with Tweak UI for XP. You can also tweak many other settings using the Tweak UI program.

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