Generally, it’s the small arrow at the lower-left corner of an icon that distinguishes an actual file from its shortcut that, even though is a file itself and is of small size, when double-clicked, points to the main file and launches it.

That said, most users are used to identifying a shortcut icon with the help of the arrow, and changing it to something different might create some confusion.

Nevertheless, if you’re more into cosmetics and love to play with operating system’s appearance, here’s how you can change the shortcut arrow icon in Windows 10:

Note: Although you can always tweak Windows registry and customize its appearance, it’s comparatively safer, easier, and more straightforward to use any third-party app that is specifically designed to serve such purposes. This guide uses Winaero Tweaker for demonstration, but you can choose any program that you like. Since almost all such applications offer almost identical way of tweaking the OS, you should have no trouble following this tutorial while working on any of its alternatives.

Step 1
Obtain a tweaking tool

Launch your favorite web browser (Microsoft Edge for this example), type the URL of the tool’s official website or of its direct download page (https://winaero.com/download.php?view.1796 for this example), click the download link (Download Winaero Tweaker for this example), click the arrow next to the Save button at the bottom (in Microsoft Edge), click Save as, choose a location to download the tool (Desktop for this example), and click Save. This downloads the tweaking tool on your computer. Depending on the size of the file and the speed of your Internet connection, the download process may be quick or take some time.







Step 2
Locate the executable file

Right-click the downloaded .ZIP file, and click Extract Here (or any other such option as per the compression tool your PC has). This extracts the contents of the compressed file to the location you downloaded the .ZIP file. If the file you downloaded is .exe itself (as it may be the case if you chose any other tweaking tool), you can skip this step and jump to Step 3.



Step 3
Install the app

Double-click the executable (.exe) or batch (.bat) file of the tool, click Run on the Security Warning box when/if it appears, click Yes on the User Account Control box when it comes up, and follow the on-screen instructions. This installs the tool with all the required permissions. Depending on the type of application you downloaded, this step may directly launch the program instead of installing it first.




Step 4
Launch the program

Double-click the app’s shortcut icon from the desktop (if it is there, or locate it from the Start menu), click Yes on the User Account Control confirmation box, and click I AGREE on the License Agreement page. This launches the app and opens its main interface. Since such apps make changes to the operating system’s settings, you must allow them to run when the User Account Control box prompt for your permission.




Step 5
Change the arrow in shortcut icon

Scroll down to the Shortcuts category from the left pane of the app’s interface, click Shortcut Arrow from under the Shortcuts category, select the Custom radio button from the right window, select your preferred icon from the Change Icon box (or click Browse to select a different one that’s not present in the list), click OK, and click Restart Explorer once you’re back on the app’s main interface. This replaces the default arrow with the icon you just selected, closes and re-opens Windows Explorer, and starts showing you the new icon at the lower-left area of the apps’ shortcut. If you don’t wish to use the icons present in the Change Icon box, you must either download another one or create your own using any icon creation program, and then use the Browse button on the Change Icon box to locate and use your custom icon.