A novel scheme essentially eliminates side-reading while maintaining on-track magnetic sensitivity for spin-valve read heads. By directly patterning a magnetic layer that is antiparallelly coupled with the free layer beyond the track edges, the magnetic torque generated by signal field in the wing regions of the free layer can be counterbalanced by the torque generated by the patterned layer via the antiparallel coupling. The magnetic read width of the sensor becomes essentially the same as the physical track width for track widths as low as 50 nm. With this scheme, the on-track magnetic sensitivity exhibits virtually no reduction as track width reduces from 200 to 50 nm. In addition, the scheme enables recessing the contact leads from the track edges to reduce shield-to-shield widening at the track edges.