How to Open Files That Became Shortcuts in Memory Card

Oh no! So you just came back from a wonderful photo shooting trip, removed the memory card out of your camera, and plugged it into your PC, hoping to transfer all the amazing photo – only to find that the folder that has all your pictures has now become a shortcut?

You tried to click on and open the shortcut file but it doesn’t work. So what’s the problem?

Well, most likely your Windows PC was infected with some funky virus, and that has affected your camera card as well when connected to your computer.

But do not worry! We are going to walk you through the process to fix the issue or at least recover your most valuable photos.

Things You’ll Need

  • Your camera memory card
  • A personal computer
  • Internet connection
  • Anti-Malware software for cleaning viruses
  • A photo recovery software (optional)

What Happened and Why?

Simply put, some “unethical” programmers out there (aka, hackers) just want to make PC users’ lives a bit unpleasant. They develop certain types of malware that can be easily spread over removable devices.

The issue was primarily caused by a USB virus, which can infect other flash drives and memory cards as well if they are plugged into the USB port of the same computer.

What the virus usually does is hide the files inside a folder by turning the folder into a shortcut – a few kilobytes (KBs) in size – when the actual size could be 500 megabytes or 2 gigabytes.

The good thing is, in most of the case the real data are still there. You’ll just need some tweaks to make the folder visible again so you can access the photographs stored inside.

How to Fix Shortcut Files: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Check if the photo folder is in hidden mode.

  • Open the Command prompt in your Windows operation system. For Windows XP, click Start > Run > type “cmd” and click OK to access the DOS window. For Windows 7/8/10, press the “Win” + “R” (or “Home” + “R”) to open RUN dialog box > type “cmd” and tap on OK.
  • Type the command: attrib -h -r -s /s /d h:*.*
  • Note: the -h flag assumes your camera memory card drive shows as H: under “My Computer” (or “This PC” if you’re on Windows 10), replace with appropriate drive letter if different. You can copy this command and paste there.
  • Press Enter and check your memory card to see if your photo folder is visible and accessible.

You can also check out this video if you prefer a visual guide:

If it works, you can simply delete the shortcut. Otherwise, move on to step two.

Step 2: Clean the virus using antivirus software.

You can find many available options online including Microsoft’s Windows Defender, but we recommend using Bitdefender Antivirus Plus because it’s more powerful and easier to use. Just run the program to have a thorough scan of your PC and remove any malware it might find.

Now check your memory card folder; is it still a shortcut? Hopefully not. If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Step 3: Recover your photos and format the memory card.

  • Before you format the card, try to retrieve your data with a photo recovery software. Here we’re assuming the files are important to you.
  • Format the memory card via your digital camera’s internal format option or Windows formatting function (My Computer > Disk Management > Select your memory card and format.) This helps wipe everything out, including the virus.
  • Now rerun the recovery software to see if you can recover more photos. Note: a quick card reformatting won’t erase the data permanently, see unformat solution here.

I hope you are able to resolve the folder shortcut issue successfully. At least you’ll have gotten your precious photographs back.

Pro Tips

  • It’s essential that you keep your computer clean and virus-free. These days a computer acts as a post-production hub for photographers. Any viruses with the PC can ruin the stuff we’ve spent hours working on.
  • If possible, try not to plug in your camera cards to a public computer. And do not lend your computer to a friend as you never know what they’ll do.
  • Also, take a look at these tips to keep your camera data safe, you should find some of them helpful.

Anyway, we hope you find this troubleshooting article helpful. Let us know if you’ve fixed the shortcut issue and restored your precious photos.

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