The Shortcut Arrow
Be forewarned that this “Quick Tip” isn’t so quick.
Last week I wrote a Windows Quick Tips article about removing the word “Shortcut” from shortcuts. In response to that post, our DCT Forums moderator, Dandl, asked about removing the little arrow that Windows also superimposes there. Well, not only can you remove it, but you can replace it with another; you can even create your own icons if you like.
How to Remove the Shortcut Arrow
Note: The next few steps involve using the Windows Registry Editor. The standard warning is, before any changes are made to the Registry, Back It Up! If you don’t know how to do that, here is another Windows 10 Quick Tips post that will show you.
- To open the Windows Registry Editor use the Windows Key + R Hotkey combination to open a Run Box
- In the Run Box, type regedit and hit Enter
I have not included an image of the Registry Editor because, in fact, we are not going to use it today. This does not in any way excuse you from making backups. Sorry, you’re not getting off the hook that easy.
Registry Entries that Need Changing
There are basically two ways this can be approached. If you are brave and not lazy, you can enter the changes manually as usual or, if you are lazy like me, then you can create your own .reg file and simply merge the changes with a couple mouse clicks. This second choice will please you to no end if you plan to experiment a bit with different types of arrows or whatever images you may create on your own.
I am only going to discuss the lazy way. Besides, it’s a lot safer and not nearly so prone to error.
Copy and Paste the following lines into Notepad or any plain-text editor. Be sure to save it as a .reg file and not the typical .txt file. Windows may complain about changing file extensions, but pay it no mind. Simply move on as though you know what you’re doing and you won’t be noticed or questioned further… until next time, of course.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
That last line, with -16769 at the end, is where the magic happens. That number represents the position within the shell32.dll file of the icon you want to use as the arrow overlay. 16769, incidentally, is the Large Arrow you will see in a minute.
Note: The last line has wrapped in the above example due to space limitations, but it is actually one long line, not two.This is how it should look in Notepad (click to enlarge):
Here are examples of some standard icons that can be found within the shell32.dll file:
Remember these? These are less obtrusive than the current Windows 10 versions but still serve as a reminder that you are looking at a shortcut.
Then, of course, there are these hideous attacks on your senses. Reminds me of the sadistic Vista system.
No Arrow – What We’ve All Been Waiting For
This shows an example of how the icons look without the arrow. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed there is a barely visible outline where the superimposed arrow would have been. It is more noticeable on some icons than others.
Remember this line from above?
Well, you don’t have to point to the shell32.dll file at all. You can point it directly to an .ico file that you have created or one you’ve gleaned from the Internet. To do so, simply change that last part to a path pointing to your new file. As an example, in the Green Curved Arrow below, I used the following line:
Note: Be sure you have that file where you say it is or things may break, or simply won’t work as expected. I like to enclose that path in quotes, too. Technically, it isn’t necessary unless there are spaces in the path, but it’s a good habit to get into in any case.
Note #2: Your custom icons should have dimensions of 48 x 48 pixels. This may not be critical, but I know it works with this size. If you know of other dimensions that work, please tell us about it in a comment.
Whimsical Green Arrow
I downloaded this PNG file off the Internet, resized it to 48 x 48 pixels and saved it as an .ico file. It is important to start with file-types that allow for transparency, which the PNG format does.
Of course, to implement all you’ve learned, you will need to know the values for the various icons. In all cases, with the exception of the default icon, it is a simple matter of replacing the value at the end of the line with one of these:
- The Classic Arrow: 30
- The Large Arrow: 16769
- Small Down Arrow: 232
- Large Down Arrow: 231
- No Arrow: 50
Default Windows 10 Arrow: This is a special case and in order to get it back you’ll need to delete the “29” Value by changing this line in your .reg file: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons]”29″=-
This will effectively delete the entry from the Registry causing Windows to use its default behavior.
- Create your .reg file using the text provided
- Change the value at the end of the last line in the .reg file to implement one of the icons, or, enter a path to one of your own images
- Save the .reg file
- Click the .reg file to Merge it with the Registry (this is another spot where Windows will yell, “Warning! Warning, Will…”
- Ignore the flailing
- Reboot your computer (or log off then back in to your account) so your changes will take effect
Creating Your Own Icons
I’d like to be able to tell you that Icon Editors are a dime a dozen, and maybe they are, but the truth is that only a few really good ones can be found. Here are two that may strike your fancy; one is free and the other is not even close:
Greenfish Icon Editor Pro – Don’t let the “Pro” part fool you. This is a free program that is available in both an installed version and a portable version. You will find it at this Greenfish Site.
Note: Clicking either of the download buttons will take you to Softpedia, a typical software download repository. I don’t normally recommend using them, but in this case I have thoroughly scanned the files for viruses and and other Possibly Unwanted Programs (PUPs) and they came up clean as of this writing.
Microangelo – Microangelo is far from being a free program, but if you are serious about icon creation and editing, this is the way to go. It’s the best icon editor I know of and it isn’t limited to mere icons, either. You will find it at this Microangelo Home Page.
An interesting point about Icon Editors is that you will be able to open all sorts of files in order to peek inside and see what icon treasures they hold. DLL and EXE files hold many. If you tire of shell32.dll, try imageres.dll just for fun; they are all free game and there are hundreds, if not thousands of them. Check out one of your favorite program files, too.
Whew! Not so quick, huh…
I hope this helped, and have fun!
One of our readers commented on the Quotation Marks not being the same. It’s true. the beginning and ending quotes are different. If you are having problems, check those quotes in the .reg files you created. They could be the problem.
Thanks to Kevin and his eagle-eyes for pointing this out!