Windows Desktop Shortcuts Give me Quick Access to Everything
Updated 2021-June-1

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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 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.


File Explorer’s sidebar is also known as the Navigation pane. To control whether it is displayed, do the following.

  1. Click File Explorer’s View tab, which is the right-most tab.

  2. Click Navigation pane, which is the left-most item.

  3. In the dropdown checklist, check or uncheck Navigation pane.


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 the newly-created shortcut icon that’s labeled config - Shortcut, choose Rename, and name it something more meaningful, for example qutebrowser config.

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

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

  • or Right click the shortcut and in the context menu choose either…

    • Open in Windows Terminal,

    • Git Bash Here,

    • Open Folder as IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition Project

    • 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 desktop shortcut section of Infinite Ink’s Launching Git Bash.


Organizing your Windows Desktop

To configure your Desktop, Right click an open spot on it and specify the settings you’d like. Here are some of the Desktop View > settings that I use:

  • Auto arrange icons

  • Align icons to grid

  • Show Desktop icons

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



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

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