How to Remove (or Change) Arrows on Shortcut Icons in Windows 7, 8, and 10

In Windows, icons for shortcuts have little arrows to remind you that what you’re looking at is a shortcut. Even though the arrows are smaller than in some previous versions of Windows, they aren’t terribly attractive. Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to remove.

Removing those little arrows requires a tweak to the Windows Registry, but there are a few different ways of going about it. These methods should work in Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Edit the Registry Manually

While it isn’t the easiest way, you can edit the registry yourself without downloading or running any extra sofware. You can also use the Registry to bring back the oversized arrow from the Windows Vista days, just in case you like really ugly things.

Since we’re about to make changes to the Registry, we’ll toss out the obligatory warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and you can certainly change things that would render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a simple hack that anyone can do, as long as you stick to the instructions. If you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

To get started, open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC. In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Look through the Explorer key and see if there’s a subkey named Shell Icons. If there’s not, you’ll need to create it by right-clicking the Explorer folder icon, choosing New > Key, and naming it Shell Icons.

reg1

Next, you’re going to create a new value inside the Shell Icons key. Right-click the Shell Icons folder icon and choose New > String Value. Name the new value 29.

reg2

Now, you’re going to modify that value. Double-click the new 29 value and type (or copy and paste) the following into the “Value data” box to remove arrows from shortcut icons:

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

reg3

Click OK and exit Registry Editor. You’ll need to restart your computer (or log off and back on) to see the changes. If you want to bring the arrows back, just delete the 29 value you created. You can leave the Shell Icons key in place.

You also have another option, if you’re so inclined. You can replace the regular arrows with the super large, Vista-style arrows. They’re huge and kind of ugly, but there would be no mistaking which icons were shortcuts. Just use this string for the value on the 29 key you created:

%windir%\System32\shell32.dll,-16769

Then, once again, close Registry Editor and restart your computer to see the changes.

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