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How to Remove Shortcut Arrow Icon in Windows 10 & 11

Creating a shortcut in Windows automatically adds an arrow icon overlay to the shortcut icon. If you are customizing your desktop and don’t like it, you can remove the shortcut arrow icon from your desktop icons. Typically, the arrow icon helps differentiate between a file or application and a shortcut. Without the arrow, you will be hard-pressed to find the difference between an actual file and a shortcut.

But, if that’s not a concern for you and prefer a cleaner look for your desktop icons, I will show you two methods to remove the arrow icon. The first method is a step-by-step manual process, while the second method is automated, good for those who prefer not to edit settings manually. Follow the method of your choice. Let’s get started.

Before You Begin

  • Administrator Rights Required: You need administrator rights to modify registry settings.
  • Back Up the Registry: Before making any changes, back up the registry. This backup will help you restore the registry if anything goes wrong.

Steps to Remove Shortcut Arrow On Desktop Icons

Step 1: Download a Blank Icon File

First, download the blank icon file from here. We will use this blank icon to remove the default arrow icon.

Step 2: Extract the Blank Icon to a Folder

Find the zip file in your Downloads folder, right-click on it, and select “Extract All.”

extract blank icon

Click the “Extract” button to extract the zip file to the same directory.

click extract

Optionally, move the extracted “BlankIcon” folder to another folder of your choice. For example, I moved it to the root of the C drive so I don’t accidentally delete it.

blank icon folder

Step 3: Open the Registry Editor

Press the start button to open the Start menu. Type “Registry Editor” in the search bar and click the top icon to open the Registry Editor.

open the Start menu and search for regedit and click on the top result

Step 4: Create the ‘Shell Icons’ Key in Registry Editor

In the registry editor, go to the following folder.

Win10 remove shortcut arrow - go to folder

Here, right-click on the “Explorer” folder and select the “New” > “Key” option.

Win10 remove shortcut arrow - select key

Set “Shell Icons” as the folder name.

Win10 remove shortcut arrow - name the new key

Step 5: Create String Value ’29’ in the Shell Icons Folder

Right-click on the “Shell Icons” folder and select the “New” > “String Value” option.

create new string value

Set “29” (without quotes) as the string value name.

Win10 remove shortcut arrow - name the string

Step 6: Add Blank Icon Path as Value Data of String Value “29”

Double-click on the “29” string value. Next, enter the blank icon path in the Value Data field, and click OK. For example, since I saved the blank icon to the BlankIcon folder in the root of the C drive, my blank icon path is “C:\BlankIcon\blank.ico”.

add path and click ok

Step 7: Close the Registry Editor and Restart Windows

Close the Registry Editor by clicking the X button and then restart your computer. To restart, press the Start button, click the Power icon, and select the Restart option.

Step 8: Verify the Arrow Icon Removal

After restarting, you will no longer see the arrow icon on the shortcuts. As an example, look at the below image, it shows the 7-Zip shortcut without the arrow icon overlay on top of it.

Win10 remove shortcut arrow - arrow removed

Important Note: Do not move or delete the blank icon from its location. Doing so might show the default arrow icon or may not display correctly.

Easy One-Click Shortcut Arrow Removal (Alternative Method)

If you don’t want to modify the registry manually and prefer a simpler approach, follow the one-click automatic solution below:

1. First, download this zip file. It contains both the blank icon and a registry file.

2. After downloading, find the zip file in your downloads folder, right-click on it, and select the “Extract All” option.

click extract all

3. Click the “Extract” button when prompted.

click extract

4. Open the extracted folder. Move the “BlankIcon” folder in it to the root of the C drive. That way, you won’t accidentally delete the icon.

5. Return to the extracted folder and double-click the “remove_shortcut_arrow_icon.reg” file.

6. When prompted, click the “Yes” button to merge the reg file with your registry.

click yes

7. Once done, click “OK” to close the confirmation dialog.

click ok

Important Notes:

  • If you saved the blank icon file to another folder, you must modify the reg file to change the path accordingly. To do that, right-click on the reg file and select “Edit” (“Edit with Notepad” in Windows 11). Next, change the icon path between quotes to match its current location on your computer. Use double backslashes (\\) instead of single backslashes (\) in the path. For example, if the icon is in D:\Icons\blank.ico, the path should be "D:\\Icons\\blank.ico". Save the file by pressing “Ctrl + S” and then close the Notepad application.
modify the icon path
  • Do not move or delete the blank icon from its location. Doing so might show the default arrow icon or may not display correctly.

Troubleshooting Steps

Icons Appearing as Black Squares

After implementing the changes, the icons might appear as black squares or boxes. There are two main reasons for this.

1. Incorrect Icon Path: Ensure you entered the correct icon path for the “29” string value. When entering the path, always place it within quotes (e.g., “C:\BlankIcon\blank.ico”).

2. Outdated or Corrupted Icon or Thumbnail Cache: Clearing both the icon cache and thumbnail cache and rebooting your computer can often resolve this issue. Here’s how you can do it:

If the above two steps didn’t work, you can try leaving the “29” value blank instead of pointing it to a blank icon. To do that, open the Registry Editor, go to the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons” folder, double-click on the “29” value, delete everything in the “Value Data” field, and click “OK.” Restart your computer and it should fix the problem.

Restore the Arrow Icon for Shortcuts

If you want to restore the arrow icon for shortcuts, follow the below steps.

  1. Open the Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons” folder.
  3. Select the “29” string value and press “Delete.”
  4. Click “Yes” when prompted.
  5. Close the Registry Editor.
  6. Restart your computer.
click yes

After restarting, you will see the arrow icon for all your shortcuts on the desktop and other places.

Wrapping Up — Removing the Arrow Icon from Desktop Icons on Windows 10 & 11

As you can see, it is pretty easy to get rid of the arrow icon from your desktop icons and shortcuts. Follow the manual method if you want to learn the process step-by-step or the automatic method if you prefer a quick solution. While making the changes, regardless of your chosen method, ensure the blank icon path is correct. Also, if you see black squares for icons after making the changes, follow the troubleshooting steps shown above.

If you have any questions or need help, feel free to comment below. I’ll be happy to assist you. If you like this article, check out how to change the icon of all folder to a custom icon for further customizing your operating system.

16 thoughts on “How to Remove Shortcut Arrow Icon in Windows 10 & 11”

    1. Avatar for Bashkarla

      I just recreated the steps on my end and it worked fine. I recommend you download the reg keys given in the post and follow that method. If you’re still facing the issue, it might be due to icon cache. Try clearing it.

  1. Avatar for Thien An

    Dear Ben Nash, I left a reply to confirm method above works!
    If it’s not your case, follow steps below:
    – Download a Blank.ico
    – Copy the ico to your folder C:\Windows
    – Input value “C:\Windows\Blank.ico,0” for string “29” above.

    1. Avatar for Bastos

      Gordon’s method worked for me too, at last 🙂 (october 2020).
      Other methods resulted in arrows being replaced with black squares or even ugglier icons.

  2. Avatar for Jordy

    Works initially. But after a while the little arrow is replaced with a black box. Rather have the arrow than a black box.

  3. Avatar for Robert A Rothermel
    Robert A Rothermel

    After downloading the file “Remove Shortcut Arrow Overlay.reg”, I get, when I try to execute the file, a message, “The Publisher could not be verified.” Windows doesn’t seem to like this option.

    1. Avatar for Bashkarla

      Hi Robert,

      That is the Windows SmartScreen error message. In this case, it is safe to ignore. If you are unsure, follow the manual steps as shown in the post.

      1. Avatar for Ryan

        Is this software safe to install? I am just paranoid about installing things that I do not know the publisher.

        1. Avatar for Bashkarla

          Hi Ryan,

          It is good to be cautious when installing third-party software. The reg file is nothing but a set of instructions to add or remove values in the Windows Registry. You can open the .reg file with Notepad to see what value or keys it is modifying. That being said, If you are uncomfortable using the reg file method. Follow the manual method shown in the article.

  4. Avatar for Gumdrop

    You’re right! It took off the little arrows and now I have a page blocking the entirety of every icon … yes, I followed the steps correctly.

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