Software

Clean up your virtual program groups by removing the arrows from desktop shortcut icons

Take our virtual program groups trick one step further: Modify shortcut icons to make your desktop an even sharper application launcher.

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Image: iStock/belov1409


In last week's article, How to bypass the Windows 10 Start menu with virtual program groups, I showed you how to turn your desktop into an application launching system by using a graphics application, such as Paint, to create a wallpaper image that displays a grouping structure.

In the article's discussion area, several readers dismissed the technique as overly complex, and others recommended using Stardock's Fences. However, I did receive email from readers who liked the idea of using a native technique rather than relying on a third-party application. Some of them asked whether there was a way to improve the technique by removing the arrows from the shortcut icons.

Fortunately, there is a way you can do so in Windows 10 with a simple registry hack. In this article, I'll show you how.

Make a backup

When editing the registry, you should make a backup of your system just to be on the safe side. If you want to have a full backup on hand, check out How to revive your Windows 10 installation with System Image Recovery, which explains how to create a system image. If you already have a current system image, you may simply want to create a restore point, as described in How to use Windows 10's System Restore as a recovery tool. Of course, you can do both.

SEE: How do I ... organize my Windows desktop with Fences?

Editing the registry

To remove the arrow from the shortcut icons on your desktop, you'll use the Registry Editor to create a new key and a new string value in the registry. To begin, press [Windows]+R, type regedit in the Open text box, click OK, and work through the UAC. Once the Registry Editor opens, navigate to the following path:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\

When you access the Explorer subkey, right-click and select New | Key, as shown in Figure A, to create a new registry key within Explorer. When the new key appears at the end of the list, name it Shell Icons and press [Enter].

Figure A

Figure A
You'll create a new key called Shell Icons.

Next, right-click in the right panel, inside the Shell Icons Key, and select the New | String Value command, as shown in Figure B. When the new value appears, name it 29.

Figure B

Figure B
You'll create a new string value inside the Explorer key.

Now, double-click the new 29 string value and set the Value Data to the following, as shown in Figure C.

%windir%\System32\shell32.dll,-50

Figure C

Figure C
You'll need to set the Value Data.

To put the new setting into action, click OK, close the Registry Editor, and restart your system.

A cleaner look

When you return to your desktop, you'll see that the shortcut arrows don't appear on your Windows desktop application icons, providing a much cleaner look. Figure D shows a side-by-side comparison of a desktop with and without the shortcut arrows.

Figure D

Figure D
This is how the desktop looks with and without the shortcut arrows.

Get the shortcut arrows back

If you later decide you want to restore the shortcut arrows, return to the Shell Icons key in the registry and delete the 29 string value. Just leave the Shell Icons key intact in case you want to remove the shortcut arrows again. By itself, the Shell Icons key won't cause any problems.

Also see...

What's your take?

Do you hate Windows 10's Start menu? If so, did you implement the virtual program groups technique? Do you think it looks better without the shortcut arrows? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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