Problem: USB flash drive files changed to shortcuts, how to troubleshoot?

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Convert files with CMD  Press Windows + R and type cmd. Right-click the Command Prompt and choose "Run as administrator"...Full steps
Fix 2. Recover hidden files Use EaseUS hard drive recovery software to help you recover shortcut files. It can recover deleted...Full steps
Fix 3. Show hidden files You can recover and open shortcut files by showing the hidden files. Open your USB Drive. Open Folder...Full steps

How to Convert Shortcut Files into the Original File

"I use a USB flash drive as a backup device to store the crucial files and documents. This morning when I inserted the flash drive into my laptop and tried to open a file, to my huge surprise, all of my files in it turned into shortcuts with the same names as I saved earlier. I can't open any of the shortcut files. Does anyone know how to convert shortcut files into the original file? I need to recover the shortcut files."

Files turning into shortcuts is a common problem that happens to almost all of us. The error usually results from a virus, trojan, or worm that can infect your USB flash drive, Pen drive, micro SD card, external drive, etc. What the virus often does is hiding your files and folders and turning them into shortcuts in small size. And files getting deleted by the virus also exits.

If you are encountering the same issue and want to open and recover the shortcut files, use the three methods below to troubleshoot with ease.

How to Open and Convert Shortcut Files into Original

Here are three effective methods you can apply to solve the problem and try to recover shortcut files. Try them all until you can open shortcut files. 

Method 1. Convert Shortcut Files into Original Files by CMD 

Step 1. Press Windows + R and type: cmd. Right-click the Command Prompt and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 2. Type: attrib -h -r -s /s /d e:*.* and hit Enter.  (Replace e: with the drive letter of your device where want to recover shortcuts files)

how to open shortcut files

You can also use these attrib command lines to open shortcut files on the pen drive with the same steps. If you need a visual tutorial, watch the YouTube video tutorial below.

This video shows how to recover or get back your files that have been infected by the shortcuts files from hard drives, USB Flash Drives, memory cards, and your pen drives. When you have completed all these steps, refresh your pen drive and you can check for your files on the pen drive. Now you can easily find all your files.

Method 2. How to Recover Hidden/Deleted Files by the Shortcut Virus

If the above two ways can't show the hidden files or the original files have been deleted already, you can use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to help you recover shortcut files successfully. This comprehensive file recovery software can recover data within three steps. The supported files are graphics, videos, audios, documents, emails, ZIP, RAR, as well as other 200+ data types. 

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

  • Recover lost or deleted files, documents, photos, audio, music, emails effectively
  • Recover files from formatted hard drive, emptied recycle bin, memory card, flash drive, digital camera, and camcorders
  • Support data recovery for sudden deletion, formatting, hard drive corruption, virus attack, system crash under different situations
 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

Now, download this data recovery program for free. Then, follow the step-by-step guides below to open shortcut files effectively. 

Step 1. Select the virus infected drive to scan

Run EaseUS virus file recovery software on your Windows PC. Select the disk attacked by the virus to scan for lost or hidden files. Note that:

  • If it's an HDD where files were hidden or deleted by virus, it's better to install the software on a different volume or an external USB drive to avoid data overwriting.
  • If the infected device is an external hard drive, flash drive or memory card, it doesn't matter to install the software on the local drive of the computer.
select a location to scan

Step 2. Check all scanned results

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will immediately start a scan process to find your deleted or hidden files on the virus infected hard drive. To quickly locate the wanted files, you can use the Filter or type grouping feature to display only the pictures, videos, documents, emails, etc.

filter deleted or hidden files

Step 3. Preview and recover deleted/hidden files

When the process finishes, you can preview the scanned files. Select the files you want and click the "Recover" button. You should save restored files to another secure location on your computer or storage device, not where they were lost.

Restore virus infected files

Method 3. Show Hidden Files to Open Shortcut Files

As said before, the shortcut virus usually hides your files then changes them to shortcut icons. So, you can recover and open shortcut files by showing the hidden files in the following ways. 

Step 1. Open your USB Drive. 

Step 2. Open Folder Options.

Step 3. In "Hidden files and folders" click "Show hidden files and folders".

Step 4. Remove and click "Hide protected operating system files".

Manual execution of the command line is suitable for computer professionals, since incorrect commands can do more harm than good. Therefore, for security and usability, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative - EaseUS CleanGenius. It is a practical tool that enables you to check and fix file system errors, enable/disable write protection and update your system with one-click instead of typing intricate command lines.

Follow the simple steps below to show hidden files with this 1-click-fix software. 

Step 1. DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius for Free.

Step 2. Start EaseUS CleanGenius, choose "Optimization" on the left panel. Next, click "File Showing" on the right panel. 

show hidden files - step 2

Step 3. Select the hard drive and click "Execute".

file fixing - step 2

Step 4. After the operation completes, click the here link to check the hidden files. 

show hidden files - step 3

If these two solutions don't work, it's possible that the virus/malware has deleted your files. In this way, you need to use a reliable EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard tool to help you recover the deleted files. 

How to Open Shortcut Files FAQs

Do you still have problems with the shortcut viruses? Read these questions and answers below to get more help.

1. How do I remove the shortcut virus from the device?

Follow the steps below to remove viruses using CMD.

  • Type cmd in the search bar, right-click Command Prompt and choose Run as an administrator
  • Type F: and press Enter
  • Type attrib -s -h -r /s /d *.* and hit Enter
  • Type dir and hit Enter
  • For your information, a virus name may contain words like autorun and with .inf as the extension

2. How do I find the original shortcut file?

To view the location of the original file that a shortcut points to:

  • Right-click the shortcut and select Open file location
  • Windows will open the folder and highlight the original file

3. Why did my files turn into shortcuts?

Why do my folders turn into shortcuts? Shortcut virus is a triggered issue. Once your device gets connected to the shortcuts virus, its malware will creep into your PC, USB pen drive, memory card, or other removable storage devices. And then it will immediately create a shortcut for your folders with the same names, hiding the real folder and files.

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Updated by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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Written by Jean

Jean has been working as a professional website editor for quite a long time. Her articles focus on topics of computer backup, data security tips, data recovery, and disk partitioning. Also, she writes many guides and tutorials on PC hardware & software troubleshooting. She keeps two lovely parrots and likes making vlogs of pets. With experience in video recording and video editing, she starts writing blogs on multimedia topics now.

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