How to Add Shortcuts to Your Desktop on Windows 10

Create time-saving desktop shortcuts

Windows 10 Desktop with Shortcuts

Shortcuts on your Windows desktop are a convenient way to use your computer. You can use them to access applications, to navigate to a website quickly, or to open a file buried somewhere in My Documents. 

When you install a new application in Windows, you're often given an option to create a desktop shortcut for it, but there are several other ways to create a desktop shortcut in Windows 10, too.

How to Create a Desktop Shortcut From the Start Menu

  1. Select the Windows icon to open the Start Menu.

    Start Menu on Windows 10
  2. In the app list, select and drag any application to your desktop.

    Click & Drag from Windows 10 Start Menu
  3. 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.

  1. Open File Explorer as you normally would, or press Windows+E.

  2. Navigate to C:/ > Program Files.

  3. Open the folder for the application you want to create a shortcut for. In this example, we're creating one for Notepad++.

  4. Find the .exe file for the application. Here, it's notepad++.exe. 

  5. Right-click the .exe file and select Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).

    Right-click menu in File Explorer in Windows 10
  6. Your shortcut is created and added to your desktop.

    New Shortcut on Windows 10 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. 

  1. Press Windows+E to open File Explorer.

  2. Right-click the file or folder name.

  3. Select Create shortcut.

    Create Shortcut in Same Directory Windows 10 via File Explorer
  4. Windows creates a shortcut in the same folder as the original file or folder.

  5. 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

  1. Press Windows+E to open File Explorer.

  2. Navigate to the location of the file or folder you wish to create a shortcut for.

  3. Select the address bar to reveal the location of the file or folder.

    Discover Location in File Explorer Windows 10
  4. Press Ctrl+C to copy the location to your clipboard.

  5. In the New section of the Home ribbon, select New Item > Shortcut.

    Ribbon Menu of File Explorer in Windows 10
  6. Press Ctrl+V to paste the location in the Type the location of the item field, then select Next.

    Item Path to Create Desktop Shortcut on Windows 10
  7. Type a name for the shortcut, then select Finish. Your shortcut is created.

  8. Select and drag the shortcut to your desktop and you're done.

Create a Desktop Shortcut From the Desktop

The final way to create shortcuts in Windows 10 is to do it directly on the desktop.

  1. Right-click a space on your desktop and select New > Shortcut.

    Right-click Space on Desktop of Windows 10
  2. Select Browse to find the item you're creating the shortcut for. 

    Browse for Item to Create Desktop Shortcut on Windows 10
  3. Select the file or application, then select OK

    Browse to Item on Windows 10
  4. The location will appear in the Type the location of the item field. Select Next to continue.

    Item Path to Create Desktop Shortcut on Windows 10
  5. Type a name for the shortcut.

    Choose Name for Desktop Shortcut on Windows 10
  6. Select Finish to create the desktop shortcut.