How to Fix .LNK Extensions in Windows PC | 6 Ways You Can Apply Effectively

You can’t open apps on your PC by clicking their shortcuts if all your files suddenly have the .lnk extension, or you’re seeing continuous errors about the .lnk files, the source of the issue might come from malware infection or a Windows Update has gone awry.

LNK is the file extension used for Windows shortcuts, which are the icons and menu items you click to access files, folders, and documents.

Broken LNK files could be a hassle for you, but fortunately, there is a way to fix it. In this article, you’ll learn 6 ways you can fix the .LNK file on a Windows PC.

There are things you need to know before fixing the .LNK extensions on your Windows PC. They are as follows:

  •  If your icons and shortcuts eventually change to LNK files, then it might be due to corrupt system files.
  • Also, if your LNK errors are due to a virus or malware infection, you can normally fix the issue by running an anti-malware scan in Safe Mode.
  • There are many freeware tools found online that can easily fix broken LNK files.

See the following methods of fixing .LNK extensions on your Windows PC. Carefully apply these steps as explained and listed in this article.

Method 1: How to Scan for Malware

1. Boot your PC in Safe Mode with Networking support: In most cases, a .lnk file extension issue can be caused by a virus or malware. To properly scan and remove threats from your PC, you’ll have to boot up into Safe Mode with Networking.

If you know for sure you don’t have a malware infection, you can skip this method.

  • If you can access your Windows Settings, you can boot into Safe mode by clicking the Start menu and go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Restart Now. When your PC restarts, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. If prompted after reboot, press 5 or F5 to start Safe Mode with Networking.
  • If you can’t access Settings, reboot your PC to the sign-in screen. Once you’re prompted to log in, press down Shift as you click Power > Restart. Once the PC reboots, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. If prompted after reboot, press 5 or F5 to begin safe mode with Networking.

2. Download Malwarebytes from https://www.malwarebytes.comOnce you’re in Safe Mode, you should be able to access any web browser like Edge or Chrome.

Malwarebytes has a free malware scanning and removal app that can identify these viruses and remove them from Windows. Click Start Free Download to download the installer to your PC.

3.  Install Malwarebytes: Double-click the MBSetup file you downloaded, get it in your Downloads folder, and then follow the on-screen instructions to install Malwarebytes on your PC. If prompted to install BrowserGuard, select Skip this for now option.

  • Click Done once you’re finished installing. Malwarebytes will then launch automatically.

4. Click on the “Scan” button: You’ll see this below “Scanner” on the welcome screen. Malwarebytes will now check for updates and then scan Windows for viruses and malware. This process can a few minutes or longer, based on the size of your hand drive and if updates need to be installed.

5. Click the View Scan Results button: Once the scan is finished, a pop-up will appear at the bottom-right corner of your screen. You’ll see the View Scan Results button on this pop-up.

6. Remove the Infections: If any threats are detected, Malwarebytes will assist you in quarantining them. Check all the boxes to choose detected threats, then click Quarantine to remove them.

7. Restart your PC in Normal Mode: Once the scan is done and the threats are quarantined, reboot your PC normally. If your PC was infected with malware or a virus and Malwarebytes was able to fix the problem, this may have solved the issue.

  • You may experience .LNK errors even after the threats have been removed. If so, try using broken shortcut fixers or running a registry fix.

Method 2: How to Run a Registry Fix

1. Download the Registry fix for Windows: Usually, .lnk extensions fail to work properly due to a failed Windows Update, missing files, or files corrupted by malware.

You can download and run the .lnk file association fixer to solve this problem. You can download the file for all versions of Windows from https://www.thewindowclub.com/downloads/lnk-fix-twc.zip.

2. Unzip the file: To unzip, right-click the downloaded file, select Extract All, choose a location (such as your desktop), and then click Extract. The new folder will open instantly.

3. Right-click “LNK_Fix_TWC.reg” and choose the “Merge” option: If you’re using Windows 11, you need to choose Show more options first. You’ll be asked if you want to continue.

4. Click the Yes button: This applies to the registry fix. Once the process is complete, you can restart your PC. This should resolve most .LNK link error problems.

Method 3: How to Restore to an Earlier Date

1. Open the Control Panel: You might be able to resolve the .LNK errors with a quick system restore. To access the Control Panel without encountering .LNK errors, simply apply these steps:

  • Press Windows Key + R to access the Run dialog
  • Type “Control Panel
  • Click OK

2. Open the Recovery panel: If you find it in the window, click Recovery. If not type “recovery” into the search bar at the top of the window and click Recovery once it pops up.

3. Click the “Open System Restore” button: It’s the second option.

4. Click the Next button on the System Restore wizard: This lists restore points.

  • If you see an error that says that you don’t have System Restore configured, you won’t be able to use this method. However, don’t worry, you can continue with the other methods below.

5. Choose a restore point and click on the Next button: Select a restore point from a date which your PC was not working properly.

  • Once you click Scan for affected programs with a restore point chosen, you’ll see which programs you’ve installed since Windows created that restore point. All of these programs will be removed from your computer if you complete the restore, but your files and personal programs will be safe.
  • When you don’t see a good candidate, check the box next to “Show more restore points” at the bottom.

6. Click the Next button to confirm: A summary will pop up.

7. Click the Finish button to start the System Restore: Once the process is done, your PC will be restored to the selected date.

  • If this does not solve the .LNK issue, then you can continue with another method till it fixes the issue without further problems.

Method 4: How to Use a Broken Shortcut Fixer

1. Install Glary Utilities 5 from Glarysoft: This freeware tool will scan for broken shortcuts (LNK) files and resolve them automatically. To download the program, go to https://www.glarysoft.com/glary-utilities and then, click the green Download Now button.

2. Install the program: Click the downloaded file and follow the on-screen instructions to install.

  • Click Finish after installing and the app will launch instantly.

3. Click the “Advanced Tools” tab: You’ll find it at the top of the window.

4. Click the Shortcuts Fixer tab: The tool will scan your PC with any broken LNK shortcuts. All broken shortcuts will show in the window.

5. Choose all broken shortcuts: If not all of the boxes are checked by default, choose them now.

6. Click the down arrow next to “Fix Shortcut”: It’s to the right of the “Fix Shortcut” button at the top of the tool.

7. Select the Fix All Checked tab: This tab repairs the links for all the broken shortcuts.

  • If a shortcut cannot be fixed, you’ll see the word “Error” to the right of its name. Also, a checkbox will remain close to the file to show that it’s still selected, while the fixed files will no longer have shortcuts.
  • You can repair any of the “Error” shortcuts manually by re-associating those .lnk files with the apps or files that are meant to point to. To do this, click one of the error files, then click Fix Shortcut. Choose the correct file, folder, or app, then click Open to choose it.

Method 5: How to Run System File Checker 

1. Access a Command Prompt as an administrator: One can use your PC’s system File Checker (SFC) to resolve problems with corrupted system files. Fixing these system files will solve the .LNK errors.

To prevent .LNK errors when accessing Command Prompt, follow these steps to access it:

  • Press the Windows key + R
  • Type cmd but don’t press Enter.
  • Press Control + Shift + Enter at the same time
  • Click Yes to access the command prompt.

2. Type sfc/scannow and press Enter: This scans your entire PC for corrupt system files. The process can take long for minutes, based on the size of your hard drive.

3. Follow the on-screen instructions to tackle any issues.

Method 6: How to Manually Fix the Registry for Windows 7 Only

1. Access the Registry Editor: To do this without any .LNK errors, follow these steps:

  • Press Windows Key + R
  • Type regedit and press Enter.
  • Click the Yes button

2. Visit the LNK registry subkey. Here’s an easy method of doing this:

  • Click the View menu and ensure “Address Bar” is selected. Once this feature is on, you’ll see an address bar at the top or bottom of the Registry Editor that says “Computer.”
  • Enter or paste the key into the address bar: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.lnk
  • If that does not work, you can move around it manually, it’s in the left panel, click HKEY_CURRENT_USER, click Software, click Microsoft, click Windows, click CurrentVersion, click Explorer, click FileExts, and then .lnk

3. Delete the UserChoice subkey: If you see a key with this name beneath “link” in the left panel, right-click it and select Delete. Once that is done, reboot your computer, and then the problem should be solved.

About LNK File 

Files with a .lnk extension are sometimes referred to as “link files” or desktop shortcuts. These kinds of files are sometimes linked with Microsoft Windows, and they also point to .exe files located elsewhere on the user’s PC.

Once you click a .lnk file shortcut, it opens the program associated with the .exe file that the shortcut references.

Where’s the location of the LNK file format? See the following Windows location:

For Windows  7 to 10:

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent

For Windows XP:

\Documents and Settings\UserName\Recent and

\Documents and Settings\UserName\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Recent

Windows Vista:

\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft \Windows\Recent and

\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Office\Recent

How to Create the LNK File 

You could create a shortcut to a file, folder, or application by right-clicking that object and choosing Create shortcut. (In Windows 11, you must first choose Show more options.)

How to Show the LNK File Extension

Though you’ve configured Windows to show file extensions for known file types, it would not show the .lnk file extension.

Although not recommended, you can make Windows display the .lnk file extension by removing the NeverShowExt property in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\lnkfile Windows registry key:

  • Type regedit in the Run dialogue box to access Registry Editor.
  • In the Registry Editor, move to Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\lnkfile.
  • Create a backup of the LNK file by right-clicking it and choosing Export.
  • Choose the NeverShowExt attribute and delete it.
  • Restart Windows.

How to Open the LNK File 

You can edit a Windows shortcut’s properties, add a shortcut key, or modify how Windows accesses the file to which the shortcut points. To edit a shortcut’s properties, simply right-click the shortcut and choose Properties.

How to Remove .LNK Extension Adware (Virus Removal Guide)

There are 4 steps in this section of the article, carefully apply the below procedures to remove .LNK Extension Adware from your PC.

Step 1: Restore .LNK File Association Settings in Windows Registry

The main issue for this error is that your PC does not recognize the .exe extension due to an error in your Windows Registry, to fix the issue, you can use any of the below steps to fix it.

See the following options:

Option 1: Use Rkill to Restore your File Association

1. Download Rkill from the link below:

RKILL DOWNLOAD LINK

2. Double-click on the Rkill program to stop the malicious programs from operating.

3. RKill will now start working in the background, please wait while the utility finds a malicious process and tries to end it.

4. Once the Rkill tool has carried out its task, it will generate a log. Do not reboot your PC after running Rkill as the malware programs will restart.

Option 2: Use the “Repair .lnk (Shortcuts) File Association” tool

1. Download the Repair .lnk (Shortcuts) File Association tool from the link below:

REPAIR .LNK FILE ASSOCIATION DOWNLOAD LINK (This link will access a new tab from where you can download Repair .lnk (Shortcuts) File Association)

2. Double-click on the previously downloaded file, then click on the Start button.

Option 3: Use System Restore to restore your system to an earlier state

1. Open System Restore by clicking the Start Button

2. In the search box, type System Restore, and then, in the list of results, click System Restore.

3. Follow the steps in the wizard to select a restore point and restore your PC to an earlier state.

Option 4: Manually Remove the Unwanted Registry Change 

1. Click Start Menu, and then type regedit in the Start Search and press Enter.

2. Browse to the following registry branch:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.lnk

3. Click on the arrow to expand it and delete the sub-key named UserChoice.

4. Exit from Registry Editor and reboot your PC.

Step 2: Use Malwarebytes to Delete .LNK Extension Virus

Malwarebytes is a powerful on-demand scanner, which should remove the .LNK extension adware from Windows. It is important to note that Malwarebytes will run together with antivirus software without conflicts.

1. Download Malwarebytes from the link below:

MALWAREBYTES DOWNLOAD LINK

2. Once Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the “mb3-setup-consumer” file to install Malwarebytes on your PC.

You will be presented with a User Account Control pop-up requesting if you want to enable Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. When this happens, click “Yes” to continue with the installation.

3. Once the Malwarebytes installation starts, you will see the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard, which will assist you through the installation process.

To install Malwarebytes on your PC, continue following the prompts by clicking the Next button.

4. After installing it, Malwarebytes will automatically begin and update the antivirus database. To begin a system scan you can click on the “Scan Now” button.

5. Malwarebytes will now begin scanning your PC for malicious programs. This process could take some time, so we recommend you do another thing and periodically check on the status of the scan to see once it’s finished.

6. Once the scan has completed, you will be presented with a screen displaying the malware infections that Malwarebytes has showed. To delete the malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine Selected” button.

7. Malwarebytes will now quarantine all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may request that you restart your PC.

Once the malware removal process is complete, you can close Malwarebytes and keep on with the rest of the guideslines.

Step 3: Use HitmanPro to Scan for Malware and Unwanted Programs 

With HitmanPro, you can find and remove malware, adware, bots, and other threats that even the best antivirus can sometimes miss. HitmanPro is programed to run together with your antivirus suite, firewall, and other security software.

1. Download HitmanPro from the link below:

HITMANPRO DOWNLOAD LINK

2. Once HitmanPro has completed the download process, double-click on the “hitmanpro” file to install the program on your PC.

It will display a User Account Control pop-up to you requesting you to allow HitmanPro to make changes to your PC. If this happens, click “Yes” to continue with the installation.

3. Once the program begins, you will be see a start screen as shown on the screen. Then.,, click on the Next button to continue with the scan process.

4. HitmanPro will now start  to scan your PC for malware.

5. Once it has finished it will display a list of all the malware that the program found as seen in the image below. Click on the Next button, to remove malware.

6. Click on the “Activate free license” button to start the free 30 days trial, and remove all the malicious files from your PC. Once the process is done, you can now close HitmanPro and finish up the remaining guidelines.

Step 4: Recheck for Malicious Programs with Emsisoft Emergency Kit

The Emsisoft Emergency Kit scanner comprises of powerful Emsisoft Scanner complete with graphical user interface. Scan the infected PC for virus, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and other malicious programs.

1. Download Emsisfot Emergency Kit from the link below:

EMSISOFT EMERGENCY KIT DOWNLOAD LINK

2. Double-click on the “EmsisoftEmergencyKit” icon,. then click on the ‘Extract’ button.

3. On your Desktop PC, you should have a  ‘Start Extract Emsisoft Emergency Kit’ icon, double click on it, and then once the program starts, enable it update its database.

4. Once the Emsisoft Emergency Kit has update, and have completed the process, click on the “Scan” tab, and carry out a “Smart Scan”.

5. Once the scan is completed, it will display a screen reporting which malicious files Emsisoft has detected on your PC, and you’ll  need to click on Quarantine Selected objects to delete them.

Step 5: Reset your Browser to Default Settings.

If it happens that you’re still experiencing issues with the .LN\k extension adware from internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, you’ll need to reset your browser to its default settings.

This step should be carried out only if your issues have not been resolved by the previous procedures in this article.

Chrome has an option that will reset itself to its default settings. You might need to do this if apps or extensions you have installed changed your PC setttings without you knowing.

Your saved bookmarks and password won’t be cleared or changed.

1. On your PC, open Google Chrome 

2. At the top right side, click “More“, and then “Settings

3. At the bottom, click “Show advanced settings

4. Under the section  “Reset settings” click Reset settings.

5. In the box that pops up, click Reset 

For more information & guide on how to create, link, remove, edit, and fix .LNK Extension files, feel free to check out this page, and leave a comment in the section below.

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