.LNK File Extension

There is only one file type that uses the .LNK extension:

Windows Shortcut

Windows Shortcut

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.

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 the same way as if the user double-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 does 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.

Software's name License Platforms
CodeWeavers CrossOver CodeWeavers CrossOver Free Trial LinuxMac
Flint LinkInfo Flint LinkInfo Free Windows
HxD HxD Free Windows
lnkedit lnkedit Free Windows
Microsoft Windows Microsoft Windows Commercial Windows
Parallels Desktop for Mac Parallels Desktop for Mac Commercial Mac
TZWorks lp TZWorks lp Free Trial LinuxMacWindows

Updated: September 28, 2019

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