How to create shortcuts for apps, files, folders and web pages in Windows

One of the most efficient ways to access folders, files and web pages is through shortcuts. Because of that, many of us have lots of shortcuts on our Desktops, on top of the default ones made available in Windows. That's why, in this tutorial we will show you how to create all kinds of shortcuts in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. There’s quite a bit of ground to cover, so let’s get started:

NOTE: Before we move on with our tutorial, I would like to share that, in Windows 8.1, you cannot create shortcuts to modern apps. You can only pin tiles to the Start screen. To learn more about pinning apps, read this guide: The Complete Guide To Pinning Everything To The Windows 8.1 Start Screen

The procedure is similar in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. To simplify things, we will use screenshots only from Windows 10. Do remember that the same steps apply in all three versions of Windows.

How to create shortcuts to modern apps on the desktop (Windows 10 only)

Unlike Windows 8.1, Windows 10 allows users to create shortcuts to modern apps from the Store on their Desktop. It works with a simple drag and drop, like this:

Click or tap the Start Menu followed by All Apps. In the list of apps, find the modern app that you are interested in. Click and hold the shortcut of that app from the Start Menu and drag it to the Desktop. The shortcut will disappear temporarily from the Start Menu and show up on the Desktop, followed by the text Link. Drop the shortcut on the Desktop.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

The shortcut is now shown on the Desktop and you can move it anywhere on your Windows 10 computer or device. Also, you will see it back in the All Apps list.

How to create shortcuts for desktop applications and files, in Windows

The fastest way to create a shortcut is to right-click or press and hold on the empty space on the Desktop. From the menu that appears, choose "New -> Shortcut". The contents of your menu will look slightly different, depending on what you've got installed on your computer.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

This will open the Create Shortcut wizard. It will ask you the location of the item you want to create a shortcut for. Click Browse and navigate to the item you want. Here, I've chosen the Microsoft Edge browser.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

If you're creating a shortcut to a program, be sure you are choosing the program's executable file. While you can create a shortcut to pretty much anything this way, if you want the shortcut to actually run a program you have to be sure you've got the program itself and not some ancillary file.

When you're sure you've selected the right item, click or tap OK. This will take you back to the Create Shortcut wizard. Click or tap Next to continue.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

The next screen in the wizard will let you give your new shortcut a name. The default name is the name of the file you selected. Type in anything you prefer and click or tap Finish.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

Here is my new Microsoft Edge shortcut on the Desktop.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

How to create shortcuts to folders in Windows

The procedure works in exactly the same way for shortcuts to folders. The only difference is that, after you press Browse, you select a folder instead of a file.

create, shortcuts, files, folders, apps, Windows

All the steps involved are just as in the previous section.

Now you know how to create shortcuts to apps, desktop apps, files and folders. Move on to the second page and learn how to create shortcuts to web pages and some useful tips and tricks for creating all kinds of shortcuts in Windows.

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About the Author: Ciprian Adrian Rusen
I love technology and I work in IT for more than a decade. I am the co-founder of Digital Citizen and its chief editor. Alongside my work as an editor, I am also an author. I have written and published 7 books, most of them about Microsoft products and technologies. They are translated into more than 12 languages. In 2014, I have been recognized by Microsoft for my technical expertise and involvement in the community with the title of Microsoft MVP - Windows Consumer Expert.