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How to remove the arrow from desktop shortcuts on Windows 10

Shortcuts on Windows 10 have a little arrow superimposed over the icon that the shortcut is for. It indicates that the shortcut is in fact a shortcut and not a file. From a UX point of view, this a good thing since you can tell at a glance that the icon is for a shortcut and not to the file itself. Unfortunately, it’s ugly to look at and Microsoft hasn’t improved it in years. If you want, you can remove the arrow from all shortcuts on your desktop. Here’s how.

Empty icon file

In order to remove the arrow from a shortcut, you need to replace it with an empty icon. We’ve detailed how you can create an empty icon file here. Go ahead and create one.

Remove arrow from desktop shortcut

You will need to edit the Windows registry for this but first, you have to move the icon file you created to the correct folder. Open File Explorer and navigate to the following location. Paste the icon file here.

C:\Windows\System32

You need admin rights to paste the file here. Copy the complete path to the file after you paste it.

Once the file has been pasted, close File Explorer. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box. In the run box, enter the following, and tap Enter.

regedit

This will open the registry editor. Navigate to the following key.

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

If the Shell Icons key does not exist, go to the Explorer key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Right-click the Explorer key and select New>Key from the context menu. Name this key Shell Icons.

Right-click the Shell Icons key and select New>String from the context menu. Name it 29. In the value data box, enter the complete path to the icon file that you pasted into the System32 folder.

Click OK. You now need to restart File Explorer. Open Task Manager and look for Windows Explorer on the processes tab. Select it, and click the Restart button at the bottom.

When Explorer restarts, the arrow from all the desktop shortcuts will be gone. To get the icon back, you can delete the string value that you created. Remember to restart File Explorer after deleting the value. The arrow will be restored to all desktop shortcuts.

The shortcut will still function the same way it did before. If a shortcut has the word ‘Shortcut’ in its title, you can remove it from the name by renaming it. All shortcuts that you create from this point forward will be created without the arrow added on top of their icon.

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