Favorite Links area in Windows Vista Explorer is empty

When you open Windows Explorer, the Favorite Links area may be completely empty even though the %userprofile%\Links folder contains the default shortcuts. Where %userprofile% represents your user profile folder, which is typically C:\Users\{username}.

This happens if the IsShortcut registry value for .lnk files (Shortcuts) is deleted in an attempt to hide the overlay icon for shortcuts. To resolve the problem, re-create the IsShortcut registry value using one of these methods:

Tip: For a proper way to remove shortcut arrow (overlay) in Windows Vista, see article How to remove or modify the Shortcut overlay in Windows Vista

Creating the "IsShortcut" registry value

Download and apply the .lnk file association fix from the File association fixes for Windows Vista page.


To re-create the IsShortcut registry value manually, use these steps:

1. Click Start, type regedit.exe and press {ENTER}

2. Navigate to the following key:


3. From the Edit menu, create a String value (REG_SZ) named IsShortcut

4. Exit the Registry Editor and restart Windows.

If the problem persists, follow these steps:

Fixing the Links folder

1. Click Start, type %userprofile% in the Search box and press {ENTER}

(This opens your user profile folder.)

2. Delete the folder named Links.

3. Click Start, type shell:Links and press {ENTER}

(This re-creates the Links folder.)

4. Right-click on the Favorite Links area and click Restore Default Favorite Links

5. Fix the Desktop.ini file using DesktopINIFix tool (or you can fix it manually.)

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in Windows — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2003-2012) who contributes to various Windows support forums.

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