Thoughts About Desktop Shortcuts to Web Sites in Windows 10

MS Windows 10
MS Windows 10

If you have sites that you access routinely (like my site: http://jwcooney.com), then you’ll likely want a quicker solution to opening up the browser of your choice and then searching through your bookmarks for the site you want to go to. It’s often easier just to directly type the URL into your browser than using awkward bookmarks. Luckily you have a few options in Windows 10.

Overview: What’s faster than browser bookmarks

The Windows 10 Operating System desktop is a pretty important part of working with your computer on a day-to-day basis. With the latest versions of Windows, Microsoft has added the ability to show Web sites as ‘Apps’, but these are specific to the start menu or to the taskbar. Obviously this isn’t an optimal solution if you want a quick link on your desktop for sites that you frequently access.

So what are your options:

To the point: your options are either to write a command yourself as a desktop shortcut, or you can leverage the option to save a site as an App. I’m not really in favor of one option or the other, but you can make up your own mind based on the pros and cons that I’ll explain below.

Option #1: Save the Web Site as an App

Both Internet Explorer 11 and Chrome support saving Web sites as apps to your start menu or desktop. Surprisingly as of today, this functionality isn’t supported in Microsoft’s Edge browser. I honestly wonder what the future holds for solutions like this… Microsoft’s strategy seems strangely inconsistent.

In both browsers you can simply:

  1. Browse to the site you want to go to
  2. Click under tools in the top right of your browser
  3. Then select the option: Add site to Apps.
  4. Open the start menu (click on the start menu button on the bottom left)
  5. You should see the site listed as an app. Right click on it and select the option: Pin to Start
  6. Now that the app is in your start menu, you can arrange it by dragging and dropping to a location you find makes sense.

Like I mentioned earlier, the adding Web sites as Apps functionality exists in IE11 and Chrome, but not in Firefox or MS Edge. Also, this will not add the App to where it’s quickest to access: your desktop

How to Show your New App on the Desktop:

The easiest way to link to your newly created App is to open your start menu, and to drag the App to the desktop. This creates a simple shortcut that you can click.

Downsides of Adding Web Sites as Apps

The obvious downside is that adding sites as Apps only supports opening sites as an App from IE11 or Chrome. Also, I have my doubts about Microsoft’s vision for this technology, so who can say what the future holds for Web sites as Apps. Finally, I have noticed that calling a site as an App is somewhat slower than calling the site from a desktop shortcut.

Option #2: Manually Create your Own Shortcut

If you want to use the browser of your choice, the simplest solution is to create a shortcut manually that launches a Web site in the browser you prefer.

Some Pros and Cons of Manually Creating a ShortCut to a Web Site:

  1. The benefit of this is obviously that you have more control.
  2. Another benefit (along the path of having more control) is that you can manage the permissions and can run as administrator
  3. If you really want your manually created shortcut in your start menu, you also have the option to add it when you right-click on your shortcut on the desktop.
  4. The downside is that you have to figure out the path to use (this shouldn’t be too difficult though, just look at the properties of your existing auto-created links to your browser for the full path)

For Example: if you want to create a shortcut that launches the site: example.com in Firefox:

First you need to figure out what command you need to use:

  1. First find out the complete path that launches the main FireFox executable (firefox.exe). For example, on a 64 bit system, the path might be:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe
  2. Test your command by opening up a command prompt (ie: type cmd in Cortana)
  3. Adjust the above command to pass your site as a parameter. Also note that you’ll need to encapsulate your call in quotes… one pair of quotes for the complete command you are executing, and quotes to surround both the full path and also the optional parameters
  4. The command top open up FireFox automatically to the site example.com becomes:
    cmd /c “”C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” “http://example.com””
  5. Alternately if you want to call the same site in Internet Explorer 11, you’d adjust the path as follows:
    cmd /c “”C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” “http://example.com””
  6. Note that obviously this path will vary depending on your system, the browser you are calling, and the site you want to start up.

Then you need to set up your Shortcut to execute your command:

  1. Right-click on your desktop, expand the New option, and select the option to create a new shortcut
  2. In the new shortcut dialog window that pops up, paste in the command that you want to run that will open FireFox with the site you are interested in
  3. Click the Next button
  4. Give the Shortcut a new name that you will recognize
  5. Click the Finish button

Note that there are a bunch of options available to you to customize the behavior of you new shortcut. You will likely also want to give it a picture of your choosing so that it doesn’t show up as the default black command prompt square on your desktop.

Summary:

I hope this article has helped you in deciding what option you want to use to add desktop quick links to Web sites that you frequently use. I hope that in the future Microsoft continues to add neat new ways to improve efficiency and customizability of its OS.

If you have any thoughts on this article, or if I’ve missed any options, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Please note that I have deliberately omitted using third party solutions for reasons that would likely take several articles to discuss.

 

 

One thought on “Thoughts About Desktop Shortcuts to Web Sites in Windows 10

  1. It is really helpful to everyone with step by step instruction. With two steps we can create desktop shortcuts. We can use Office 365 apps also.

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