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 their Desktop, on top of the default ones made available in Windows. That's why, in this tutorial we will show how to create shortcuts in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.
NOTE: Before we move on with our tutorial, I would like to share that, in Windows 8 and 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.
How to Create Shortcuts for Desktop Applications in Windows 7 & Windows 8.1
The fastest way to create a shortcut is to right-click 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.
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 Calibre e-book management program, which I use a lot.
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 OK. This will take you back to the Create Shortcut wizard. Click Next to continue.
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 Finish.
Here is my new Calibre shortcut on the Desktop.
How to Create Shortcuts to Folders in Windows 7 & Windows 8.1
The procedure works in exactly the same way for shortcuts to folders. The only difference is that, after you click Browse, you select a folder instead of a file.
All the steps involved are just as in the previous section.
How to Create Shortcuts to Web Pages in Windows 7 & Windows 8.1
To create a shortcut to a web page, instead of clicking Browse in the Shortcut Wizard, you type in the web address of the site you want. Then, click Next.
The default name is New Internet Shortcut, so you'll want to change that to something a lot more descriptive. When done, press Finish and the shortcut is created.
Note that when you create a shortcut to a web page in Windows 7, the default icon for your newly created shortcut is the icon for your default browser. In Windows 8.1, the default icon is that of the website you have chosen.
To change the icon to something else, right-click on your new shortcut and choose Properties. In the Web Document tab, click Change icon.
If your browser includes alternate icons, you'll be offered those as an alternative to the default.
If none of your browser's built-in icons appeals to you, there's a reasonable selection of icons stored in "C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll". You will have to type this location yourself, since the image .dll is a hidden file and you may not be able to browse for it.
If you want to play a prank on someone, this would be a good place to exchange their default browser's icon for that little blue E. :)
Another Way of Creating Quick Shortcuts
There's another method for creating quick shortcuts in Windows. Open Windows Explorer in Windows 7 or File Explorer in Windows 8.1. Go to the location of the file or folder you want to create a shortcut to.
Right-click or press and hold on it and then choose "Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut)".
A shortcut is created on the Desktop pointing to the item you have selected.
In the right click menu, you can also choose "Create shortcut" farther down the list.
A shortcut to the selected item is created in the same folder. You can move that shortcut to anywhere you wish and use it.
When you use this method for creating a shortcut to a file found in a folder where your user account doesn't have permissions to create new files, you'll get an error message saying you can't create a shortcut in that location and asking if you want to put it on the Desktop instead. Select Yes and the shortcut will be moved there.
You don't have to rely on Windows to supply you with shortcuts to your favorite programs and files. Creating your own shortcuts is easy and, as you can see from this tutorial, the procedures involved are same in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
Have you found some shortcuts that are particularly useful? Do you know where to find good, safe icons? Let us know in the comments.