How to Remove the Shortcut Arrow for Windows 10 Icons
Update [2018-02-20]: We have been informed that the steps in this article may no longer work for the latest versions of Windows 10, including the Fall Creators Update.
When you create a shortcut to an application or file, or if an application’s installer automatically places a shortcut on your desktop, Windows 10 (and previous versions of Windows, too) identifies the icon as a shortcut by placing a small arrow in the lower-left corner. This can be helpful for easily distinguishing between shortcuts and original files but it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing way to showcase your application icons. Thankfully, you can remove the shortcut arrow from your desktop application icons by making a small change in your Windows Registry. Here’s how to do it.
It’s first important to note that this tip involves making changes to the Windows Registry, which is a crucial database of low-level system settings. Therefore, make sure to avoid changing or removing any Registry entries not referenced here, and you may want to consider making a backup of your Registry and PC data before you dive in, just for good measure.
To get started, launch the Windows Registry Editor by searching for regedit via the Start Menu search feature or Cortana. Click the indicated search result to open the Registry Editor. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog, type regedit into the “Open” box, and press Enter on your keyboard.
The Registry Editor window is divided by a hierarchy of sections on the left and each section’s corresponding values on the right. First, using the hierarchy on the left, navigate to the following location:
Right-click on Explorer and choose New > Key to create a new Registry key within Explorer. You’ll see the new key appear at the end of the list (“New Key #1”). Rename it Shell Icons and press Enter on your keyboard to save the change.
Next, with the new Shell Icons key selected, right-click on the right side of the window and select New > String Value. A new entry will appear (“New Value #1”). Rename it 29.
Double-click the new 29 value to reveal the “Edit String” window, which lets you define the value’s properties. In the “Value Data” box, enter the following text:
Click OK to save the change and close the “Edit String” window. This string effectively removes the Windows shortcut arrow by making it transparent, but you’ll need to reboot or log out of your Windows account for the change to take effect.
Once you’ve rebooted, or logged out and then back in, you’ll see that the shortcut arrow is no longer present on your Windows desktop application icons, providing a much cleaner look. If you ever want to turn the shortcut arrow back on, just head back to the Shell Icons key in the Registry and delete the 29 string value you created (you can leave the Shell Icons key intact so that you won’t need to recreate it if you want disable shortcut arrows again in the future; without the “29” string value, the Shell Icons key will have no effect).
How to Identify a Shortcut After Disabling Shortcut Arrows
Your Windows 10 desktop will certainly look cleaner after turning off shortcut arrows on your application icons, but as mentioned at the beginning of this tip, those shortcut arrows allowed you to easily distinguish between shortcut links and actual original files. So, with the shortcut arrows disabled, how can you confirm whether an unknown desktop icon is a shortcut or an original?
While not as quick as seeing an arrow in the lower-left corner of your icon, you can always right-click on any icon or file and select Properties. The General tab of a file’s Properties window will tell you what type of file you’re dealing with. In the example featured in the screenshot above, the icon is correctly identified as a Shortcut.
Remove Shortcut Arrows via Third Party Tools
If you’re familiar with the Windows Registry, the steps to remove the shortcut arrows outlined above can be accomplished fairly quickly. But if you’re uncomfortable with making changes to the Registry, there are several third party tools that can make the changes and remove the shortcut arrows for you with just a click.
You’ll want to be careful when downloading and installing third party utilities that are designed to make changes to Windows as there are many questionable apps floating around the Internet that, at best, are simply out of date and not designed for the latest versions of Windows or, at worst, are intentionally designed to infect or damage your computer.
That said, one tool we know and trust is Ultimate Windows Tweaker, a free app from The Windows Club. Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4, the version compatible with Windows 10, offers hundreds of tweaks and modifications, including the ability to disable (or re-enable) the shortcut arrows with a single click. Just be careful as you play around with the app’s various options and settings, as some of them can make significant changes to the way that Windows looks and works. Thankfully, the app features the ability to quickly create a Restore Point, as well as a “Restore Defaults” button, both of which you can use to get yourself out of trouble if you make too many changes.