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Remove or modify the arrow used on shortcuts in Windows XP

Published: June 2004
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By default, each shortcut file will have an arrow icon to indicate that it's a pointer to another file/folder. You can change or remove the shortcut arrow using one of the methods discussed in this article.

For a Windows Vista version of this article, see article How to remove or modify the Shortcut overlay in Windows Vista.

Method 1: Setting the Shell Icons value

This tweak removes the shortcut arrow

  • Click Start, Run and type Regedit.exe
  • Navigate to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Shell Icons

  • Backup the key by exporting it to a file
  • In the right-pane, create a new String value named 29
  • Double-click 29 and set its Value data as:


(shell32.dll,50 is a empty icon)

  • Close Registry Editor.

To apply the changes instantly, follow this

  • Right-click Desktop, choose Properties
  • Click the Appearance Tab.
  • Click Advanced button
  • Choose Icon from the drop-down list
  • Set it's size to 31 and press OK, OK.

The changes will be applied now. Repeat the above steps and then set the Icon size back to 32 (defaults). The above steps are required to force Windows to redraw the icons. Even Tweak UI does this.

Method 2: Safer & simpler - Using Tweak UI

TweakUI2.JPG (42877 bytes)Using TweakUI to change the shortcut arrow icon is more safer. Plus, it offers another special icon Light Arrow (icon within TweakUI.exe). This gives the user an extra option to set the shortcut arrows to Light Arrow style, without completely removing the arrow.

TweakUI download locations

Open TweakUI, click Explorer, click Shortcut. Choose Light Arrow or None.

Warning: If you choose None, you cannot differentiate between the shortcut and the actual file/folder. You may end-up copying a shortcut to a file in situations where you need the original file. Hence, setting the arrow to None is not advisable. The same warning applies for Method 1.