How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on Windows 11

Shortcuts help you quickly get to the items you need without searching through stacks of files or menus full of options. Creating shortcuts for your most used apps, files, or folders on your desktop is a great way to save time. This guide shows you the ways to create desktop shortcuts on Windows 11.

Use the Context Menu

  1. Locate the app, file, or folder for which you want to create a shortcut. Right-click it and select Show more options.

    Select Show more options.
    Select Show more options.
  2. Go to Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).

    Go to Send to > Desktop (create shortcut)
    Go to Send to > Desktop (create shortcut)
  3. If you want to rename the shortcut, right-click it > Show more options > Rename. Type in the name you want.

    Rename the shortcut.
    Rename the shortcut.

Drag and Drop from the Start Menu

  1. Go to Start > All apps.

    Go to Start > All apps. 
    Go to Start > All apps.
  2. Find the app you want to create a shortcut for. Click and drag the app icon from the Start menu onto your desktop.

    Click and drag the app icon from the Start menu onto your desktop.
    Click and drag the app icon to your desktop.

Using the Applications Folder

You can find a list of all applications in the Applications folder.

  1. Search for “command prompt” in the Start menu. Right-click the result and select Run as administrator.

    Right-click the Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
    Run Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Type the following command and press Enter:
    explorer shell:AppsFolder

    Enter the command.
    Enter the command.
  3. The command above will open the Applications folder. Now, you have two options. You can drag and drop the app icon from the Applications folder onto your desktop or right-click it and select Create shortcut.

    Select Create shortcut.
    Select Create shortcut.

Using the Create Shortcut Wizard

Apps such as portable apps can’t be found in the Start menu or Applications folder. You can create a desktop shortcut for them manually.

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your desktop. In the context menu, select New Shortcut.

    select New > Shortcut.
    Select New > Shortcut.
  2. The “Create Shortcut” wizard will launch. Click Browse, navigate to the app’s .exe file, and click Ok, then Next.

    Navigate to the app's .exe file
    Navigate to the app’s .exe file
  3. Type a name for the shortcut and click Finish.

    Type a name for the shortcut and click Finish.
    Type a name and click Finish.

Using Registry Editor

Registry Editor can create shortcuts for any app, file, or folder. However, this method is a bit more complicated and not recommended for beginners.

  1. Right-click the file, app, or folder you want to create a shortcut for and select Copy as path.

    Select Copy as a path.
    Select Copy as a path.
  2. Search for “regedit” in the Start menu and open it.

    Open regedit.
    Open regedit.
  3. Navigate to the following key:
    Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell
  4. Right-click the shell folder and select New Key.

    Right-click shell and select New > Key.
    Right-click shell and select New > Key.
  5. Give the new key any name, then press Enter. I will name it “Acrobat” as the application name.

    Give the new key a name.
    Give the new key a name.
  6. Right-click the new key you just created and select New Key.

    Right-click the new key you just created and select New > Key.
    Right-click the new key you just created and select New > Key.
  7. Name the new key “Command.”
  8. Select the Command key. In the right panel, double-click (Default). In the “Value data” box, paste the path you copied in the first step, then click OK.

    Paste the path, then click OK.
    Paste the path, then click OK.
  9. You will find the shortcut you just created in the desktop context menu.

    The shortcut located in the desktop context menu.
    The shortcut is located in the desktop context menu.

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