In all versions of Windows, whenever you place a shortcut on the desktop, it will overlap the arrow in the lower left corner as a visual sign that it is a shortcut. If you don’t need this arrow, you can remove it in several ways. In this article, I will cover Registry Hacking and a free utility that gets the job done.
Remove the shortcut icon via registry
I first mentioned Registry Hacking because it is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of the arrows without installing any third-party software. It works on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 without any problem. You need to be a little familiar with the registry, but it’s really simple.
Click Start and type regedit in the search box. In Windows 8, go to the Start screen and start typing regedit.
Now go to the next key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE – SOFTWARE – Microsoft – Windows – CurrentVersion – Explorer – Shell Icons
Note that you may not have the Shell Icons key in Explorer by default. If it’s not there, right-click on the explorer in the left pane and select New – Key.
A new key will appear in the left menu and you will need to give it a name. Now enter shell icons with capital letters as shown in the screenshot above. Then click on the shell icons in the left pane and you will only see a key named Default in the right pane. Right-click any white area in the right pane and select New – String Value.
Change the name to the number 29 and press Enter. Then double-click the entry to open the key editor. In the Value Data field, copy and paste the following:
% windir% System32 shell32.dll, -50
Click OK and close Registry Editor. Now, just log out and log back in, or restart your computer and the arrows should disappear from your desktop icons if done correctly. This will also work on 32 or 64 bit Windows.
Windows Shortcut Editor
Windows Shortcut Arrow Editor is a great little program that is my favorite because it not only works with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and 32- or 64-bit versions of Windows, but also does not require fiddling with the registry.
Once downloaded, simply unzip the files and navigate to the appropriate directory for your OS and platform. There are 32- and 64-bit versions for Windows 7 and Vista and the same for Windows 8. After running the EXE file, you will see a simple dialog box as shown below where you can choose from four options. P>
The classic arrow is a smaller arrow than the default arrow, and you can also choose your own image if you want something other than the arrow to appear on the icon. The good thing about this program is that you don’t even need to log out for it to work. After you select the radio button, the desktop will automatically refresh and you will see that the arrows are gone.
Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover
Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover essentially takes a registry hack and turns it into a small program. This little free app is by no means awesome software with tons of features, etc., but again, these are generally simple apps that everyone loves. The only drawback is that it only works on 32-bit versions of Windows.
The program is very easy to use and does its job perfectly. You can either reduce the arrow size for arrow labels or remove them entirely from your icons. Choose one of four options from the list and click Apply. You can also check the box at the bottom to remove the word “shortcut” when creating new desktop shortcuts.
Now log out and log back in. Your arrows should either disappear or shrink. I also tried to run this program on Windows XP, but I failed.
If you want to remove arrow shortcuts from Windows XP desktop icons, you need to read my post on customizing Windows XP with Tweak UI for XP. You can also tweak many other parameters using the Tweak UI program.