.LNK File Extension

Windows Shortcut

Developer Microsoft
4.2  |  2181 Votes

What is an LNK file?

An LNK file is a Windows shortcut, which points to and is used to open another file, folder, or application. It contains information about the object to which it points, including the object's type, location, and filename. You can create a shortcut to a file, folder, or application by right-clicking that object and selecting Create shortcut. (In Windows 11, you must first select Show more options.)

More Information

Editing an LNK file's properties in Microsoft Windows 11
Editing an LNK file's properties in Microsoft Windows 11

LNK files typically use the same icon as their target file, with a small curled arrow added to indicate the shortcut points to another location. When you double-click an LNK file, Windows opens the file to which that shortcut points, just as it would if you double-clicked the actual file.

How to edit an LNK file's properties

You can edit a Windows shortcut's properties, to add a shortcut key or modify how Windows opens the file to which the shortcut points. To edit a shortcut's properties, right-click the shortcut and select Properties.

How to show the LNK file extension

Even if you've configured Windows to show file extensions for known file types, it does not show the .lnk file extension. While not recommended, you can make Windows show the .lnk file extension by deleting the NeverShowExt property within the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\​lnkfile Windows registry entry:

  1. Open Registry Editor by typing regedit in the taskbar search box and selecting the program.
  2. In Registry Editor, navigate to Computer\​HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\​lnkfile.
  3. Create a backup of lnkfile by right-clicking it and selecting Export (you can use this to restore your registry key in case of an error).
  4. Select the NeverShowExt property and delete it.
  5. Restart Windows.

Read more about Windows shortcuts in the FileInfo.com Help Center.

NOTE: Changes to the LNK file association can cause your Windows desktop icons to unexpectedly change or disappear. You can visit the Help Center for instructions on how to fix your Windows icons.

How to open an LNK file

Opening an LNK file, by double-clicking it or right-clicking it and selecting Open, opens the file, folder, or program to which the LNK file points. Advanced users can edit an LNK file's properties by right-clicking the file and selecting Properties.

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Programs that open LNK files

Verified by FileInfo.com

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