Vista Registry - How to Remove Arrows on Shortcuts
I will show you two methods to remove the arrow on a Vista shortcut. One method involves editing IsShortCut in the registry, however, this setting has unpleasant side effects on the 'Favorites Icons'. The other method, Shell Icon, is superior, but involves copying an ico file (supplied) to the Windows folder.
Topics for Removing Arrows on Shortcuts
Background Shortcut's Arrow
The shortcut arrow is actually an overlay, which is stored in the master icon file called shell32.dll. If you open this file, then you will see familiar icons for folders, CD Drives and Start Menu items (see screenshot). Now each icon has a number associated with it, and the shortcut's number is 29. What we will do is launch the registry editor, and redirect number 29 to a different icon, one that is transparent.
Incidentally, to see the shell32.dll icons, right-click any shortcut, select Change Icon and browse to windows\system32\shell32.dll.
Our mission is to tweak the registry so that we can remove arrows on shortcuts icon. As a preliminary step, make sure that you have a shortcut on your desktop, then you will be able to see the changes, for example, create a shortcut to calc.exe.
Note: Unlike many registry hacks, this only works on Vista (and not XP).
Registry Instructions for Shell Icons Method
Screen Shot of Shell Icons
Creating a .Reg File
If ever there was a case for creating a .reg file, then Shell Icons, is that case. This page explains how to create, and then edit .reg files for your computer. As it's easy to import the contents of a .reg file into the registry, however, do take extra care with all registry procedures. Example Shell Icons .reg file. See also how to create a Windows 8 .reg file to remove the shortcut arrow.
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Once again, I will show you how to remove arrows on shortcut icons. This method involves deleting a registry value, so I advise that you export at least the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\linkfile branch of the Vista registry.
Side Effects of Deleting IsShortCut
If you delete the registry REG_SZ IsShortCut, then the Favorite Links disappear. Another problem occurs with the Media Center and Games Explorer, their shortcuts may be displayed, but they don't work when you click on them. On the other hand the Shell Icons method has no such side effects, although there is no arrow, the icon still launches the underlying program.
Registry Instructions for IsShortCut
** HKLM is an abbreviation of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and HKCU is shorthand for HKEY_CURRENT_USER. These acronyms are so well-known that you can even use them in .reg files, Vista will understand and obey the registry instruction.
*** Following this scheme HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT can be abbreviated to HKCR.
Follow-up - Remove Text from a Shortcut
It is also possible to remove the text label underneath a shortcut. The trick is to rename the shortcut with a null character, ASCII 255 is best.
Troubleshooting - Removing text from Shortcut
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Windows Vista Registry Tweaks: