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How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on Windows 10 the Easy Way
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest , been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek. Read more...
Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree. Read more...
Windows 10 still lets you create desktop shortcuts to applications, files, folders, and even websites. Desktop icons may a little out of fashion, but they’re still useful as part of a nicely organized desktop .
How to Create a Shortcut to an Application
To do this the easy way, open Windows 10’s Start menu. Look for the application you want to use by scrolling through the Apps list at the left side of the menu. If it’s in the tiles list at the right side of the menu, you can also drag it from there.
Once you’ve found it, drag and drop the application’s shortcut from your Start menu to your desktop. You’ll see the word “Link” appear when you’re hovering over the desktop. Release the mouse button to create a link to the program, also known as a desktop shortcut.
Note that you can’t search for the application by name in the Start menu. Windows 10 won’t let you drag and drop anything from the search results. It should, but it doesn’t.
How to Create a Shortcut to a File or Folder
To create a desktop shortcut to a file, first, locate the file somewhere in File Explorer. Hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and then drag and drop the file or folder to your desktop. The words “Create Link in Desktop” will appear. Release the mouse button to create the link.
Holding down Alt is necessary. If you don’t hold down Alt, Windows will show the words “Move to Desktop,” and it will move the folder or file to your desktop rather than simply creating a link.
How to Create a Shortcut to a Website
In Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, you can quickly create desktop shortcuts to websites. With a web page open, drag and drop the icon to the left of the address bar—it’s generally a padlock or an “i” in a circle—to the desktop.
This doesn’t work in Microsoft Edge for some reason. Edge won’t let you directly create desktop shortcuts. However, you can create them in Chrome or Firefox, and they’ll automatically open in your default web browser—even if that’s Microsoft Edge.
Working With Your Shortcuts
Whatever type of shortcut you create, you can right-click it afterward, select “Rename,” and change the name to whatever you like.
You can use all the above methods to create shortcuts in other folders, too. Want to create a shortcut to a website or application in your Downloads folder? Go right ahead! Just drag and drop it to your desired location instead of the desktop.
If you don’t see any shortcuts on your desktop, they may be hidden. Right-click the desktop and select View > Show Desktop Icons to unhide them.
You can also choose the size of your desktop icons from here—large, medium, or small. For more size options, position your mouse cursor over the desktop, hold down the Ctrl key, and scroll up and down with your mouse wheel.
Tip: If you’re looking for the classic “My Computer” or “My PC” desktop icon, you can get it back using Settings .
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How to Add Shortcuts to Windows 10 Desktops
Create time-saving desktop shortcuts.
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What to Know
- Right-click anywhere on desktop. Select New > Shortcut > Browse > select file or app. Name shortcut > Finish .
- You can use desktop shortcuts to access applications, navigate to a website quickly, or open a file.
This article explains various methods for adding shortcuts directly to your Windows 10 desktop so you can quickly access applications, webpages, or files.
Create a Desktop Shortcut From the Desktop
Follow these steps to create a shortcut for an application or file directly on the desktop:
Right-click a space on your desktop and select New > Shortcut .
Select Browse to find the item you're creating the shortcut for.
Select the file or application, then select OK .
The location will appear in the Type the location of the item field. Select Next to continue.
Type a name for the shortcut.
Select Finish to create the desktop shortcut.
How to Create a Desktop Shortcut From the Start Menu
To create a desktop shortcut from Start:
Select the Windows icon to open the Start Menu .
In the app list, select and drag any application to your desktop.
Windows creates a shortcut to the application without removing the app from the Start Menu.
How to Create a Desktop Shortcut for an Application
If you're a little more tech-savvy or maybe you forgot to add a Start Menu item for the application when you installed it, you can create a desktop shortcut for it through File Explorer .
Open File Explorer as you normally would, or press Windows+E .
Navigate to C:/ > Program Files .
Open the folder for the application you want to create a shortcut for. In this example, we're creating one for Notepad++.
Find the .exe file for the application. Here, it's notepad++.exe.
Right-click the .exe file and select Send to > Desktop (create shortcut) .
Your shortcut is created and added to your desktop.
Create a Desktop Shortcut in Windows 10 for Files and Folders
Creating a desktop shortcut for a document or folder from File Explorer is the same as doing so for an application, but involves an extra step.
Press Windows+E to open File Explorer.
Right-click the file or folder name.
Select Create shortcut .
Windows creates a shortcut in the same folder as the original file or folder.
Select and drag, or copy and paste, the shortcut to your desktop.
How to Make a Desktop Shortcut for Any Item From the File Explorer Menu
In the previous methods, you created desktop shortcuts using the right-click menu and keyboard shortcuts. Here, we'll explain how to create them using the File Explorer menus
Navigate to the location of the file or folder you wish to create a shortcut for.
Select the address bar to reveal the location of the file or folder.
Press Ctrl+C to copy the location to your clipboard.
In the New section of the Home ribbon, select New Item > Shortcut .
Press Ctrl+V to paste the location in the Type the location of the item field, then select Next .
Type a name for the shortcut, then select Finish . Your shortcut is created.
Select and drag the shortcut to your desktop and you're done.
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How to Create Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 10
Any time you open a Windows app by rolling your mouse pointer over to an icon or lift your finger up and tapping on a tile, you're wasting time and putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder. The fastest and least physically-taxing way to launch any program is with a keyboard shortcut you can hit without even lifting your hands off of the homerow. Windows 10 allows you to create custom shortcuts for any program, whether it's a traditional "desktop" app, a new-fangled "universal app" or one of Windows 8's "metro apps." Here's how.
Method 1: Create a Desktop Shortcut
1. Open a command prompt window. You can get there by typing "cmd" into the Cortana / Search box and then right clicking on Command Prompt and selecting "Run as administrator."
2. Type "explorer shell:AppsFolder" (without quotes) at the command prompt and hit Enter. A window with a list of all your apps appears.
3. Right click on an app and select Create shortcut. It may be easier to find your app if you change the view setting to "detailed list" so you can see all the icons in a single column.
4. Click Yes when asked if you want the shortcut on the desktop. A new shortcut icon appears on your desktop.
5. Right click on the new shortcut icon and select Properties.
6. Enter a key combination in the Shortcut key field. The combination must be CTRL + ALT + a letter / number.
7. Click OK.
Note: Remember not to use the same key combination twice. Also note that some programs use CTRL + ALT + keyboard shortcuts that would also launch if you were in their windows. For example, in Photoshop Elements, CTRL + ALT + I brings up the resize menu.
Method 2: Use the Start Menu
If you're creating a keyboard shortcut for a "desktop app," any application that installs via direct download rather than Windows Store alone, you can create the shortcut directly from the Start Menu. By using this method, you can avoid creating a separate shortcut icon on the desktop.
1. Open the Start Menu.
2. Navigate to the icon or tile for the app you want. If the app is not pinned as a tile, you can find it by clicking on the All apps and scrolling through the alphabetical list.
3. Right click and select Open file location. A window opens with a shortcut icon. If Open file location doesn't appear on the menu, this is a modern or universal app and you'll have to follow method 1 above.
4. Right click on the shortcut icon and select Properties.
5. Enter a key combination in the "Shortcut key" box.
6. Click OK.
Customize Windows 10
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Customize keyboard shortcuts
You can customize keyboard shortcuts (or shortcut keys) by assigning them to a command, macro, font, style, or frequently used symbol. You can also remove keyboard shortcuts. You can assign or remove keyboard shortcuts by using a mouse or just the keyboard.
Use a mouse to assign or remove a keyboard shortcut
Go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon .
At the bottom of the Customize the Ribbon and keyboard shortcuts pane, select Customize .
In the Save changes in box, select the current document name or template that you want to save the keyboard shortcut changes in.
In the Categories box, select the category that contains the command or other item that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to or remove a keyboard shortcut from.
In the Commands box, select the name of the command or other item that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to or remove a keyboard shortcut from.
Any keyboard shortcuts that are currently assigned to that command or other item appear in the Current keys box, or below the box with the label Currently assigned to .
To assign a keyboard shortcut do the following:
Begin keyboard shortcuts with CTRL or a function key.
In the Press new shortcut key box, press the combination of keys that you want to assign. For example, press CTRL plus the key that you want to use.
Look at Current keys (or Currently assigned to ) to see whether the combination of keys is already assigned to a command or other item. If the combination is already assigned, type a different combination.
Important: Reassigning a combination of keys means that you can no longer use the combination for its original purpose. For example, pressing CTRL+B changes selected text to bold. If you reassign CTRL+B to a new command or other item, you will not be able to make text bold by pressing CTRL+B unless you restore the keyboard shortcut assignments to their original settings by selecting Reset All at the bottom of the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
Select Assign .
Note: If you use a programmable keyboard, the key combination CTRL+ALT+F8 might already be reserved for initiating keyboard programming.
Remove a keyboard shortcut
In the Current keys box, select the keyboard shortcut that you want to remove.
Select Remove .
Use just the keyboard to assign or remove a keyboard shortcut
Press ALT+F, T to open the Word Options dialog box.
Press DOWN ARROW to select Customize Ribbon .
Press the TAB key repeatedly until Customize is selected at the bottom of the dialog box, and then press ENTER.
In the Categories box, press DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW to select the category that contains the command or other item that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to or remove a keyboard shortcut from.
Press the TAB key to move to the Commands box.
Press DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW to select the name of the command or other item that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to or remove a keyboard shortcut from.
Any keyboard shortcuts that are currently assigned to that command or item appear in the Current keys box, or below the box with the label Currently assigned to .
Press the TAB key repeatedly until the cursor is in the Press new shortcut key box.
Press the combination of keys that you want to assign. For example, press CTRL plus the key that you want to use.
Press the TAB key repeatedly until the Save changes in box is selected.
Press DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW to highlight the current document name or template in which you want to save the keyboard shortcut changes, and then press ENTER.
Press the TAB key repeatedly until Assign is selected, and then press ENTER.
To remove a keyboard shortcut
Press the SHIFT+TAB key repeatedly until the cursor is in the Current keys box.
Press DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW to select the keyboard shortcut that you want to remove.
Press the TAB key repeatedly until Remove is selected, and then press ENTER.
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How to create a Windows shortcut key
Windows shortcut keys are a powerful, highly configurable tool that allow you to access frequently-used shortcuts using a key combination on your keyboard.
Create a shortcut for a program or file
- Open the folder or directory containing the program or file you want as a shortcut.
- Right-click the program/file and select Create Shortcut .
- Once done, this creates a shortcut named "Shortcut to <your program/file>" or "<your program/file> - Shortcut" in the current directory . If you want to rename this shortcut, right-click the file and select Rename .
- Once the steps above are completed, you can copy or cut this shortcut and paste it anywhere.
Assign a shortcut key to that Windows shortcut
Once the shortcut is created, to assign a shortcut key to that Windows shortcut, follow the steps below.
- Right-click the shortcut and select Properties .
- Click the Shortcut tab.
- Click in the Shortcut key box and press a letter. For example, if you press P , the key combination to run this shortcut is Ctrl + Alt + P .
How to create a shortcut key that performs a function
The steps above are great for those who want to create a shortcut key to open a commonly used program. However, what if you want to create a shortcut key that performs a specific function in a program? Some more advanced programs allow you to assign keyboard shortcuts in the program. For example, in Adobe Dreamweaver , you can click Edit and then Keyboard Shortcuts to define the keys you want to use for a shortcut.
Unfortunately, most programs do not offer this level of customization. If you're using Microsoft Windows, you can install AutoHotkey to create scripts that can be assigned to any shortcut key.
- How to create a Windows shortcut.
- Create a shortcut key for Internet web pages.
- Microsoft Windows help and support.
Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts for Anything in Windows 10
Speed up your workflow and get rid of repetitive tasks
Want to know how to create keyboard shortcuts to do anything on Windows 10? This guide will help. Surprisingly, it’s quite easy to create a quick keybind that can open programs, perform repeatable tasks, and speed up your workflow.
I’ll suggest a number of different options you can use to make keyboard shortcuts and provide some examples of how you can use them to their max potential.
Open Programs Quickly
I can see this shortcut option being useful for a large number of Windows 10 users. It’s quick and easy to set it up so that a quick shortcut can open any executable file. Here’s how to do it.
First, download the WinHotKey program from Directedge . It’s free to use. It’s a bit old, but it works and it’s clean. Once downloaded, go through the installer wizard, then launch WinHotKey. In WinHotKey, click New HotKey in the top left.
In the new window that appears, give the hotkey a name . After, choose what combination you’d like to trigger the shortcut. For example, I chose to do Windows+F2. After, you can click the Browse option to find the location of the executable you’d like to open.
Alternatively, you can just copy and paste the location. WinHotKey will automatically grab the application icon so that you are given visual context about it. You can now open your program with the hotkey you’ve specified.
You must make sure that your keyboard shortcut doesn’t conflict with any existing shortcuts, either Windows defaults or from within the WinHotKey interface. For example, Alt+F4 couldn’t be used. It’s best to stick to Windows + ’X’ combinations to avoid conflicts.
Automatically Type Text
If you consistently type the same sentences or words, you can automate it with WinHotKey too. To do this, click New Hotkey in WinHotKey, then click the drop down box under I want WinHotKey to: and select Type some text .
Now, type or paste the text into the box at the bottom of the new hotkey window. Finally, make sure to choose a new keyboard shortcut you haven’t used before.
There isn’t a limit on how many characters you use with this shortcut, but if there is a line break in anything you paste, it will end there. So, it’s best for copying single paragraphs, things like hashtags for Instagram or social links for YouTube descriptions.
Open Folders and Documents in Windows 10
WinHotKey can also be used to quickly open specific folders and documents within Windows 10. You can simply select the Open a Document or Open a Folder options under the I want WinHotKey to: dropdown box and then follow the same steps as above.
This time though, you’ll need to browse to a specific file or application. If you choose the open document option, most documents will work, so long as you have a supporting application defaulted to open those kinds of files. From my testing, I could get Photoshop, office apps like Excel, PDF files, and text files.
If a file didn’t work, Windows 10 will ask you to choose a default application for that file type, and then future hotkeys with that file type would then also work.
Use Autohotkey for Emojis
AutoHotkey is another application for Windows 10 that can help you to create more complex keyboard shortcuts. This software can be used to automate a large number of different tasks. You can download Autohotkey from their website for free.
Once you’ve downloaded it, extract the file to a memorable location. Then, in the directory, double click an .ahk file , then when asked, choose to browse what application should be used to open such files. Next, browse and navigate to AutoHotkeyU64 . This will allow you to run AutoHotkey scripts by double clicking them.
It’s very easy to use emojis on a smartphone, but there isn’t any easy way to do this on a computer by default. With Autohotkey, you can set up a number of emoji shortcuts. Here’s how to do it.
Creating a hotkey extension can be quite complex, but thankfully there are dozens of great autohotkey scripts on the internet. For creating emojis, we’d suggest this one .
On the page shared above, click the Raw button to be taken to a raw text file. Next, press Ctrl+A to select the entire code. Then press Ctrl+C to copy it all. After, open a Notepad file and paste the code there.
Now, click File in Notepad, then click Save as . Navigate to the directory you extracted Autohotkey. Next, click the Save as type drop down box and select All files. Now, name it Emoji.ahk and click Save.
To use this hotkey script, you’ll need to double click it each time you start your PC . After, you can type emoji codes like :smiley: to automatically use emojis. At any time, you can refer back to the Github link above to see which codes are used for each emoji.
More Advanced Autohotkey Scripts
The potential for more advanced Autohotkey scripts is quite impressive. You can read up on some of the best scripts here . Some examples include the following:
- Magnify the screen with keybinds
- Use mouse gestures
- Drag windows easily
- Quickly access your favorite folders
- View upload/download speed via a small on-screen overlay
I hope that this guide on using Windows keyboard shortcuts has been useful. Did you learn anything? I hope so. Did you struggle with any of the suggestions in this guide? If so, send me a Tweet and I’ll be happy to help out as soon as possible.
Ollie stumbled upon writing online whilst participating in a mobile network forum back in 2011. Since then, he has developed an incredible passion for writing about all sorts of tech from smartphones, PC hardware, software, and everything in between. Read Ollie's Full Bio
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How to Create a Desktop Shortcut
Last Updated: January 30, 2023
Using the Desktop Menu
Using the file location, expert q&a.
This article was co-authored by Yaffet Meshesha . Yaffet Meshesha is a Computer Specialist and the Founder of Techy, a full-service computer pickup, repair, and delivery service. With over eight years of experience, Yaffet specializes in computer repairs and technical support. Techy has been featured on TechCrunch and Time. This article has been viewed 194,368 times.
Desktop shortcuts are the shortcuts of a particular file present inside the complex folders and drives on the computer. Through desktop shortcuts, applications can be opened easily with just a click. Desktop shortcuts reduce the need to access your applications from the original file location and thus saving you precious and valuable time. Here are the steps to create desktop shortcuts:
- This will redirect you to another dialog box. From there, choose the Shortcut option.
- You can also type the address of the file but it is always better to choose the location as it minimizes the probability of mistakes.
- Type and search the application in Search , a logo with windows on the Taskbar .
- Right-click on the application and select Open file location .
- The shortcut is now at the end of the Programs list. For example, if you created a shortcut to Microsoft Word, the program will be present at the end of the list.
- You can also create a shortcut from a webpage. Try the steps in How to Put a Shortcut to a Website on Your Desktop . ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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To create a desktop shortcut for an app on Windows 10, drag the app icon from the Start Menu app list to your desktop. To create a shortcut to a file or folder, hold down Alt while dragging the icon to your desktop. Windows 10 still lets you create desktop shortcuts to applications, files, folders, and even websites.
Follow these steps to create a shortcut for an application or file directly on the desktop: Right-click a space on your desktop and select New > Shortcut . Select Browse to find the item you're creating the shortcut for. Select the file or application, then select OK . The location will appear in the Type the location of the item field.
Method 1: Create a Desktop Shortcut 1. Open a command prompt window. You can get there by typing "cmd" into the Cortana / Search box and then right clicking on Command Prompt and selecting...
To assign a keyboard shortcut do the following: Begin keyboard shortcuts with CTRL or a function key. Press the TAB key repeatedly until the cursor is in the Press new shortcut key box. Press the combination of keys that you want to assign. For example, press CTRL plus the key that you want to use.
Open the folder or directory containing the program or file you want as a shortcut. Right-click the program/file and select Create Shortcut. Once done, this creates a shortcut named "Shortcut to <your program/file>" or "<your program/file> - Shortcut" in the current directory.
Once downloaded, go through the installer wizard, then launch WinHotKey. In WinHotKey, click New HotKey in the top left. In the new window that appears, give the hotkey a name. After, choose what combination you’d like to trigger the shortcut. For example, I chose to do Windows+F2. After, you can click the Browse option to find the location ...
Right-click on that particular file or application for which you want to create shortcut. Make sure to select the file before right-clicking. 3 Look for a dialog box. From there, choose the "'Create Shortcut'" option. The shortcut is now at the end of the Programs list.