Windows Desktop Shortcuts Give me Quick Access to Everything
Updated 2021-April-7

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2021-April-5  Published this evolving⁠[1] article.

What’s wrong with File Explorer

On Windows, you can use File Explorer and its Quick access sidebar to manage and launch files and folders. Unfortunately, this Quick access sidebar has some issues, including…

  • it’s a pain to reorder the Quick access items,

  • you cannot launch executables from it,

  • and you cannot give items meaningful aliases. For example, Visual Studio Code’s Roaming User directory is listed as simply User rather than something meaningful like VSCode Settings.

In the next section, I describe how I create and use a Desktop shortcut.


Example: qutebrowser’s config folder

When configuring qutebrowser, I often do things in my C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\qutebrowser\config\ folder. To make it easy to get there, I do the following.

  1. Use Windows File Explorer to navigate to this Roaming qutebrowser directory.

  2. Right click its config subdirectory and choose Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).

  3. View the Desktop by pressing Win+D.

  4. On the Desktop, right click this newly-created config - Shortcut, choose Rename, and name it something more meaningful like Roaming qb config.

After doing this, I can use Win+D to view the Desktop and then…

  • double click the shortcut to view the directory in Windows File Explorer,

  • or right click the shortcut and choose…

    • Open in Windows Terminal,

    • Git Bash Here,

    • Open with Code,

    • or Properties;

  • or Shift+right click the shortcut and choose…

    • Open PowerShell window here.


More examples

You can do the above for C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Code\User\ and any other directory that you regularly visit.

Another example, which includes editing a shortcut’s Properties, is in the Windows Desktop shortcut section of Infinite Ink’s Launching Git Bash.


Organizing your Windows Desktop

To configure your Desktop, right click anywhere on the Desktop that is not a shortcut and specify the settings you’d like. Here are some settings that I use:

  • View >

    • Uncheck Auto arrange icons

    • Check Align icons to grid

    • Check Show Desktop icons

With the above settings, I can use drag and drop to arrange my shortcuts however I like.⁠



1. Many Infinite Ink articles, including this one, are evergreen and regularly updated.

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