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.LNK File Extension

File TypeWindows Shortcut

4.2 (1857 Votes)
CategorySystem Files

What is an LNK file?

An LNK file is a shortcut or "link" used by Windows as a reference to an original file, folder, or application similar to an alias on the Macintosh platform. It contains the shortcut target type, location, and filename as well as the program that opens the target file and an optional shortcut key. The file can be created in Windows by right-clicking a file, folder, or executable program and then selecting Create shortcut.

More Information

LNK files typically use the same icon as their target file, but add a small curled arrow to indicate that the file points to another location. When double-clicked, the shortcut acts exactly the same way as if the user clicked the original file.

LNK files with shortcuts to a program (.EXE file) can specify attributes for how the program runs. To set the attributes, right-click the shortcut file, select "Properties," and modify the Target field.

Windows do not display the .lnk file extension for file shortcuts even when the "Hide extensions for known file types" folder viewing property is unchecked. While not recommended, you may enable the file extension to be displayed by deleting the "NeverShowExt" property within the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\lnkfile Windows registry entry. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Open "Registry Editor" by typing "regedit" in the taskbar search box and selecting the program.
  2. Navigate to the Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\lnkfile location in the program.
  3. Create a backup of the key by right-clicking "lnkfile" and selecting Export (you can use this to restore your 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 may 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.

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Programs that open LNK files

Updated 12/23/2019

About LNK Files

Our goal is to help you understand what a file with a *.lnk suffix is and how to open it.

The Windows Shortcut file type, file format description, and Mac, Windows, and Linux programs listed on this page have been individually researched and verified by the FileInfo team. We strive for 100% accuracy and only publish information about file formats that we have tested and validated.

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