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Modify or remove the shortcut arrow

If you have some icons on the desktop in Windows 7 then you will probably have noticed that some of them have an arrow in the bottom left hand corner. These icons are shortcuts and the arrow indicates that the icon is really just a pointer to the real location of the file or folder.

The shortcut arrow is big and it's ugly. Wouldn't it be better if you could make it smaller, or perhaps you would like to completely remove it. It is actually quite easy with a simple registry tweak.

Click Start, Computer and double click the hard disk drive. Open the Windows folder and find Notepad.exe. Right click it and select Send to, Desktop (create shortcut).

Most programs have their own icons and Windows uses them on the desktop and in Explorer windows. If you look at the shortcut to Notepad you just created on the desktop you'll see that it has a big arrow on it.

Shortcut arrowRight click the Notepad shortcut and select Properties. On the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon. Click Browse and select C:\Windows\System32\Shell32.dll. This contains lots of icons and what we will do is replace the standard shortcut arrow with a smaller one. It's the second one down in the 8th column. Count the icons starting with zero in the top left corner down each column and it is icon number 29. Remember that.

Click Start and enter regedit to run the registry editor. In the left hand pane select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SOFTWARE \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Explorer \Shell Icons. If Shell Icons does not exist in the left pane, select Explorer and click Edit, New Key. Name it Shell Icons and select it.

Now click Edit, New, String Value and name it 29. This registry key as a large number of functions that are all numbered. We'll be using function 29, Shortcut Overlay. It is pure coincidence that it's the same number as the icon we'll be using.

Double click the 29 value and enter C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll,29. This tells Windows to use icon 29 in the shell32.dll file. Close the registry editor. Take one last look at the shortcut arrow on the desktop shortcuts and restart Windows. When the desktop reappears it will have the new shortcut arrow from shell32.dll.

You can select any icon in shell32.dll and it will be placed on top of the icon of shortcuts. You might want to try icon 30, just below 29, or one of the many others.

If you browse the icons in shell32.dll you will notice that there are some gaps and icon 49 a bit further along is blank or transparent. If you set the value of 29 in Shell Icons in the registry to 49 then it removes the shortcut arrow completely because 49 is blank. Try it and see.

If you want to put things back as they were, just right click the 29 value in the registry and delete it.