How to Create a Desktop Shortcut on Windows

Set up easy access to programs and files you frequently use

What to Know

  • Quickest way: Select Start > locate program > left-click and drag program onto the desktop.
  • Next fastest: Open File Explorer > locate program > right-click the program > Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).
  • For web pages, select and drag the padlock in the address bar to the desktop.

This article explains how to create desktop shortcuts for applications, folders, and files. Additional information covers how to create shortcuts from your web browser. Instructions apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Create a Shortcut From the Desktop

When you create a shortcut on the Windows desktop, you get easy access to any file or program installed on your computer. There are two requirements for creating a shortcut. First, you must know the file or program path or be able to navigate to it. Second, you must have permission to access the file or program. There are multiple ways to create shortcuts. Below are the steps to create a shortcut on your desktop by using the Create Shortcut wizard.

  1. On your desktop screen, right-click any empty space.

    Windows desktop display.
  2. In the drop-down menu that appears, select New.

    Selecting New from the right-click context menu on a Windows 10 desktop.
  3. Select Shortcut.

    Selecting Shortcut from the right-click context menu on a Windows 10 desktop.
  4. In the Create Shortcut wizard, select Browse to find the file or program that needs a shortcut.

    If you already know the path to the file or program, type it and proceed to step five.

    Selecting Browser in the Create Shortcut wizard in Windows 10.
  5. Navigate to the file or program you want to create a shortcut for. Select OK.

    Create shortcut target file selection in Windows 10.
  6. Select Next.

    Choosing Next after selecting the application for creating a shortcut on a Windows 10 desktop.
  7. Type the name you want to assign to the shortcut, then select Finish.

    Naming and finishing shortcut creation on a Windows 10 desktop.
  8. Your new shortcut appears on your desktop. You can use it as you would the other shortcuts.

    New shortcut on Windows 10 desktop.

Create a Desktop Shortcut in File Explorer With a Right-Click

There are three ways to create a desktop shortcut from File Explorer. The first method includes using the right-click context menu. See the next two sections for alternative ways.

  1. From your taskbar, launch File Explorer.

    File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar in Windows 10.
  2. Navigate to the file or program, then select it.

    Selecting a program within File Explorer to create a shortcut.
  3. Right-click the name of the file. From the menu that appears, select Send to.

    Selecting Send to from the right-click context menu within File Explorer.
  4. Select Desktop (create shortcut).

    Selecting Desktop to create a shortcut from File Explorer.
  5. Your new shortcut appears on your desktop. You can use it as you would the other shortcuts.

    New shortcut appears on desktop display

Create a Desktop Shortcut Using the Alt Key

The second way to create a desktop shortcut from the File Explorer is by using the Alt key:

  1. From your taskbar, launch File Explorer.

    File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar in Windows 10.
  2. Locate the program or file.

    Selecting a program within File Explorer to create a shortcut.
  3. While pressing the Alt key, left-click and drag the app to your desktop and release.

    Dragging a shortcut to the desktop in Windows 10.

Create From File Explorer Using Right-Click and Drag

The last way to create a shortcut from File Explorer is by using right-click and dragging to the desktop:

  1. From your taskbar, launch File Explorer.

    File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar in Windows 10.
  2. Locate the program or file.

    Selecting a program within File Explorer to create a shortcut.
  3. Right-click and drag the program to the desktop and release.

    Dragging a copy of a program from File Explorer to the desktop.
  4. From the right-click context menu, select Create shortcuts here.

    The right-click context menu after dragging a program shortcut to the desktop.

Create a Shortcut From the Start Menu

Another way to create an application shortcut is from the Start menu. See the steps below.

  1. Select Start in the lower-left corner. Alternatively, press the Windows key.

    The Windows 10 Start Menu.
  2. Locate the app that needs a desktop shortcut.

    Viewing programs on the Windows 10 Start Menu.
  3. Left-click and drag the app to your desktop, then select Link.

    Dragging a Program shortcut from the Start Menu to the Desktop.

Create a Shortcut of a Web Page

If you have a favorite web page you visit frequently, you can create a desktop shortcut in a few steps. The steps below apply to Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox.

  1. Open your favorite browser and navigate to your favorite website.

    The Google search webpage in Chrome.
  2. In the address bar, select the padlock and drag it to the Desktop.

    Dragging a webpage URL to the desktop.
  3. Release your mouse button. A shortcut should appear.

    Creating the webpage shortcut on Windows 10 Desktop.
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