I use Data Validation with List from a range set up on all my rows in a column to be able to choose a "Category"

The arrows however, are annoying to see - especially on cells I haven't yet filled.

Is there a way I can hide those arrows and just be able to either start typing or double click in the box to see the options - without ever showing the arrows)

image showing dropdown arrows


Yes you can, just un-check the "Show dropdown list in cell" checkbox on the data validation dialog.

data validation settings


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