How to Create Shortcuts for Desktop: A Step-by-Step Guide


If you have ever found yourself sifting through dozens of files and folders in search of a frequently used app or document, you understand how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, creating shortcuts for the desktop can alleviate this problem. It can significantly reduce the time spent navigating through files and folders, thereby improving productivity.

This article is a step-by-step guide on how to create desktop shortcuts for frequently-used apps, documents, and files. Throughout this article, you will learn how to use keyboard shortcuts, third-party tools, and how to customize your shortcuts to suit your individual needs.

Step-by-step guide

Creating a desktop shortcut is relatively simple and the following instructions will guide you through the process:

  1. Locate the app, file or folder for which you want to create a shortcut and right-click on it.
    Step 1
  2. Hover over the “Send to” option on the context menu.
  3. Select “Desktop (create shortcut)”.
  4. Step 2

  5. Your shortcut will be created, and you can now easily access the app, file or folder from your desktop.
  6. Step 3


  • Customize your shortcut name for clarity and ease of access.
  • Use the right-click context menu to create new shortcuts quickly.
  • Group similar shortcuts by creating folders on your desktop.
  • For frequently used applications, consider pinning them to the taskbar to reduce clutter on your desktop.

Comparing shortcuts vs. bookmarks

Desktop shortcuts and browser bookmarks offer similar functionality, but the former is reserved for files and applications stored on your computer, while the latter is used to save web pages for future reference.

The primary benefit of using desktop shortcuts is improved productivity. Instead of having to navigate through several folders and applications, the user can quickly locate a shortcut on the desktop and open or access it. Additionally, customized shortcut names make it easier to identify and locate shortcuts on the desktop.

Creating shortcuts for various purposes:

Desktop shortcuts can be used to access various applications, files, and folders on your computer. The following are some common uses of desktop shortcuts:

Shortcuts for frequently used applications:

Follow the steps outlined above for creating shortcuts for commonly used applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and any other applications you frequently use. You can rename these shortcuts with custom names that help you locate them easily.

Shortcuts for frequently used documents and files:

Desktop shortcuts can help you access frequently used documents, folders, and files quickly. For example, if you have a file that you frequently edit, you can create a shortcut on your desktop to access it more quickly.

To create shortcuts for frequently used documents and files, you follow the same steps outlined above for creating shortcuts for applications.

Keyboard shortcuts

Windows operating system comes with several keyboard shortcuts that can make it easier and quicker for users to create desktop shortcuts. Some of these shortcuts include:

  • Windows key + D: show the desktop, allowing the user to see all shortcuts and folders on the desktop quickly.
  • Windows key + H: create a shortcut for sharing content or files from an active window.
  • Windows key + E: open File Explorer to create a new folder or document and create a desktop shortcut to this folder or document.
  • Windows key + Ctrl + D: create a desktop shortcut for a new virtual desktop.
  • Windows key + Shift + S: create a screen clipping and set it up as a shortcut on the desktop.

Use of third-party tools

While Windows offers a simple process for creating desktop shortcuts, some third-party tools provide a more advanced interface and additional functionality. These tools include:


SharpKeys is an excellent third-party tool that allows users to create custom keyboard shortcuts that can open any program or file on the desktop. SharpKeys interface is similar to the Windows registry editor, which means it’s easy to navigate and use. To create custom keyboard shortcuts on SharpKeys:

  1. Download and install SharpKeys from their official website.
  2. Launch SharpKeys and click on the Add button.
  3. Select the key you want to assign to a shortcut, then select the program or file you want to open when you press the key.


Pencil allows users to create drawings and sketches that can be saved as shortcuts on the desktop. Pencil is a third-party tool worth mentioning for people who frequently use diagramming or sketching software. To create custom shortcuts using Pencil:

  1. Download and install Pencil from their official website.
  2. Launch Pencil and create a new project.
  3. Create drawings or sketches that you want to save as shortcuts on your desktop.
  4. Save the drawings or sketches as shortcuts on your desktop from the File menu.

Common shortcuts for productivity

Keyboard shortcuts are powerful tools that can significantly boost your productivity. Below are some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts that can improve your workflow:

  • Ctrl + C: copy selected text, files, or images.
  • Ctrl + X: cut selected text, files, or images.
  • Ctrl + V: paste selected text, files, or images.
  • Ctrl + Z: undo the last action.
  • Ctrl + Y: redo the last action.
  • Alt + Tab: switch between open windows.
  • Windows key + L: lock the computer screen.
  • Windows key + R: open the Run dialog box.

Shortcuts for frequently used apps

If some applications are frequently used, it’s a good idea to create shortcuts on the desktop for ease of access. To create shortcuts for frequently used apps:

  1. Click on the start menu and locate the application you wish to create a shortcut for.
  2. Right-click on the app, then click on “More”.
  3. Select “Pin to taskbar” to add the app to your taskbar, or select “Open file location” to locate the app’s executable file.
  4. Right-click on the app’s .exe file and click on “Create shortcut”.
  5. Select “Yes” to add the shortcut to your desktop.


  • Create folders on your desktop to form a custom and easily accessible Start Menu.
  • Organize shortcuts relative to the frequency of use. Frequently used apps should always be near the top or in a dedicated folder on the desktop.

Shortcuts for documents and files

Desktop shortcuts can eliminate the need to navigate through several folders to locate frequently-used documents. To create shortcuts for frequently-used documents:

  1. Locate the file or folder you wish to create a shortcut for.
  2. Press and hold the Alt key, then drag the file or folder to your desktop. Alternatively, right-click on the file or folder and select “Create shortcut”, then drag the shortcut to your desktop.
  3. Customize the shortcut name to make it more recognizable.


  • Use relative folders to organize your shortcuts, or group documents for different project needs in one folder.
  • Update shortcuts when a document is changed or moved.


Desktop shortcuts are a powerful tool to increase productivity and reduce the time spent navigating through several files and folders. This article provided step-by-step guidance through creating desktop shortcuts, using keyboard shortcuts, third-party tools, organizing shortcuts, frequently used applications, documents, and files.

We encourage users to create their shortcuts and to seek optimized arrangements that ease work and save time. Start by creating shortcuts for commonly accessed files, apps, and folders on your computer today, thus taking the first step towards a more efficient workflow.

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