Remove shortcut arrow from desktop icons in Windows/Windows Vista

In all versions of Windows, whenever you place a shortcut on the desktop, it will mask an arrow in the lower left corner as a visual indication that it is a shortcut. If you don’t care about having 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 gets the job done.

Remove shortcut icon via registry

I mention the registry hack first because it’s the fastest and easiest way to get rid of the arrow without having to install any third-party programs. It works on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 without any problems. You have to get 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 icon locked under Explorer by default. If it’s not there, right click Explorer in the left pane and select NewKey.

A new key will appear in the menu on the left and you will have to give it a name. Now type in Shell icon with the capital letters shown in the screenshot above. Then click on the Shell Icon in the left pane and you will only see a key named Default in the right pane. Right click on any white area in the right pane and select NewChain Value.

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

%windir%System32shell32.dll, -50

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 because it not only works on 32 or 64 bit versions of Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows, but also doesn’t require you to mess around with the registry.

Once 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 the same for Windows 8. When you run the EXE file you will get a simple dialog as shown below where you can choose one of four options .

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 an arrow to show up on the icon. The cool thing about this program is that you don’t even have to log out for it to work. When you select the radio button, the desktop will automatically update and you will see that the arrows are gone.

Vista Shortcut Overlay Removal

Vista Shortcut Overlay Removal basically does a registry hack and packs it into a small program. This little freeware app is not a great piece of software with loads of features etc, but again, it’s usually simple apps that everyone loves. The only downside is that it only works on 32-bit versions of Windows.

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

Now go ahead and log out of your computer and log back in. Your arrows should be gone or reduced in size. I also tried running 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 Tweak Windows XP with Tweak UI for XP. You can also adjust many other settings using the Tweak UI program.

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