How To Find and Remove Broken Shortcuts Automatically

Karl L. Gechlik 13-06-2009

ChkLinksHead Microsoft has a nifty utility in it’s Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. It is called ChkLnks.exe and it not only works on Windows Server 2003 but on Windows XP and Vista as well. I have not tried it on my Windows 7 installation just yet but I am pretty sure it work there too. If you’ve tried it out on 7, let us know how it went for you.


What is ChkLnks.exe? Well, it is a simple application that will scour your computer for non-functional shortcuts. And every system I tried this on had a few of them, no matter how clean I thought they were!

If you do not want to grab the entire resource kit you can download the 364KB ChkLnks.exe file, zipped up on its own from here

Now, let’s see how ChkLnks.exe works.

You start the program there is no installation required. You will see the screen below, dubbed the “Link Check Wizard”


Hit the Next button to start scanning. The program will start and display results as it discovers them. Each line has a check box next to the title of the broken link. Broken links can come from uninstalling program, deleting applications or files and any number of other ways.



Simply check the box next to each link which you want to permanently remove. Or, just hit the select all button like I did. These are broken links and will not effect your machine.


It will take a few seconds for ChkLnks.exe to do its magic but when it is complete, you will get a dialogue box stating it did what it had to do. And you are one step closer to a lean, clean computing machine!


I decided to run it on another machine which I use for testing freeware and wound up with a huge list of orphaned links as you can see below:


I hit Finish and in a few seconds all my non-functional links were no longer on my machine. Not too shabby! Thanks for helping me out with my spring cleaning Microsoft!

Did you have lots of dead shortcuts on your computer? Surprised? Have you tried ChkLnks.exe on Windows 7? Let us know how it went.

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  1. Ohmster
    April 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Doesn't work on Windows 7 Ultimate x64. When checking for dead links, I get a lot of links show and then program stops working, Close. Before I get the full list and can make my selection. Ran as user and Admin. Same thing. I wish it would have finished so I can remove the broken links. My special folders, My Pictures, My Videos, etc. keep disappearing every few weeks and I have to run the attrib repair batch file to restore all special folders.

    :: @echo off

    :: Tutorial:

    attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Music /S /D

    attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Pictures /S /D

    attrib +r -s -h %USERPROFILE%\Videos /S /D

  2. Rob
    February 8, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Missed desktop shortcuts on vista that were broken. Not terribly impressed as the computer hangs for a good 10-20 seconds every time i try to delete these links :(

  3. gary
    July 9, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    ChkLnks.exe did no work in my copy of win7 running on a dell dimension 4700 however you can make a short cut to user/your name/appdata/roaming/Microsoft/windows/recent items and make a shortcut desktop and it is there to use any time.

  4. Don Stichert
    June 16, 2009 at 8:06 am
    started "flashing" a window but would not let me open or run it!! I'm using Vista Ultimate, and my computer is a custom build... what's up with this link??

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      June 19, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      I just clicked on that link and it opens a download windows for me. Maybe your AV is blocking the download?

      This is the page it resides on:

    • Aibek
      June 20, 2009 at 4:09 am

      just checked, the link works

  5. ahenobarbus
    June 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

    i just wasted 10 seconds i'll never get back to find i have no dead links, and another minute typing this, and another...

    • Jennifer
      June 15, 2009 at 12:11 pm

      that's like saying i wasted 4 hours doing a virus scan to find out i have no viruses....

  6. Kenshin304
    June 13, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Tried it on Windows 7RC and it works perfectly.

  7. Teillu
    June 13, 2009 at 9:19 am

    My PC is abput 5 years old. No dead links found. Thanks, CCleaner!

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      June 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

      Wow you run a tight ship - eh?

  8. Danny Keith James
    June 13, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Didn't work for me using Windows Vista Ultimate. It found the dead links. I selected all of them and hit finish but when I ran the app again all the dead links were still there. :-(

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      June 13, 2009 at 10:45 am

      Try running it as administrator.

  9. Vijay
    June 13, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I have tried it on Windows 7 and it worked perfectly well.

  10. manboo
    June 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

    will try on my vista..

  11. comstone
    June 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Spelling error -- "Microsoft has a nifty utility in it’s Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit." >> possessive "its," not contraction "it's."

    • Jackson Chung
      June 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

      Keen eye. Thanks!

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      June 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

      I swear it wasn't me - musta beeen my grammmmmer checkah. :P

      Can we fix that up Jackson?

    • PhantomTa2
      December 24, 2014 at 5:43 am

      You forgot that it's supposed to be Affect, not Effect

  12. ag
    June 13, 2009 at 8:09 am

    i was going to try on windows 7 but it found no dead links at all. my system is squeaky clean

    • Aibek
      June 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

      I think that's because it's still new, let it run for another 3-4 months and give this tool a try again.