What Does Arrow on Icons Mean?

Dear Computer Lady,

I am using Windows 8.1.

Most but not all of the icons on my desktop have a small curved up-arrow on the lower left corner.

What is the significance of that arrow?

You do good work. Keep it up, Terry

Dear Terry,

The small, curved up-arrow in the lower left corner of an icon means that it is a shortcut to another file. This is something you need to consider in a couple of situations.

First, if you backup the shortcut file, you have not saved the actual file, just a shortcut to it. Second, if you delete the shortcut file, the actual file (either program or data) will still be on your computer.

You can see where the actual file is located on your computer by right-clicking on the file, then click on “Properties” in the context menu that appears. The shortcut tab in the properties dialog box will have a section named, “Target” which will give you the location of the file that the shortcut is pointing to.

Files that don’t have the shortcut arrow are either an actual file stored on your desktop, or a system file (Like the recycle bin)



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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