NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2009
A Slightly Different Kind of Shortcut
Written by Vinny La Bash,
Regular Columnist, Sarasota PCUG, Florida

vlabash (at) Comcast.net (click to email author)

This article has been obtained from APCUG with the authorís permission for publication by APCUG member groups; all other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

Whenever you select a menu item or activate an icon on your desktop, you are most likely opening a file called a shortcut. This is a great time saver for the average person who uses computers on a regular basis. A computer shortcut is a file similar to any other file that resides on your computer, with one big difference. Itís only function is to direct the operating system to the location of another file so you donít have to go exploring through layers of folders to find it, assuming you even know its location. As mentioned above, itís a great time saver.

Wouldnít it be handy to have a desktop shortcut icon that would bring you to your favorite web site without having to go through all the intermediate steps to get there? First you need to open your browser. Then itís a matter of getting the URL into the address bar. There is more than one way to do this. You can use the mouse to select an item from the Favorites bar or Command bar. You can also type in the address manually, which is prone to error and can be cumbersome if the URL is long and complex. Suffice to say that Microsoft has provided the ability to create many paths to the same destination. No matter which path you take, the first time you visit a web site is the most time consuming. Only once do you need to take the longest journey. Subsequent visits can be made via a desktop shortcut. Letís take the path of least resistance.

The illustration shows the web address (URL) of a web site weíll presume you visit frequently. The easiest way to create a desktop shortcut to this location is to:

1. Right click the icon immediately to the left of the web site address. In this example, itís the red down-pointing triangle with the white B inside.
2. Minimize any open windows blocking access to the desktop.
3. While holding the right mouse button, drag the icon to an empty portion of your desktop.
4. Release the right mouse button and a dialog box will appear prompting you to create a shortcut on the desktop.
5. Click on the Create Shortcuts Here option.

Your desktop icon will resemble the illustration on the left. Customizing the icon is easy. Right-click on the icon, and select Properties from the popup menu.

Activate the Web Document tab. From here you can change the icon by clicking on the Change Icon button and choosing from a large selection provided by Microsoft. If you donít care for any of these, you can browse through folders on your computer until you find one you prefer.

The Security tab allows you to grant or deny access to anyone who also shares your computer. Information on the Details tab will vary with the web site. The General tab, (which should be the Details tab), is where you get the detailed information about the icon.

Change whatever you think needs changing or leave everything alone. The choice is yours.

As always, the devil is in the details. If the website you wish to access through the shortcut requires authorization, the shortcut may not work. If a user ID and password are needed you will most likely get a message telling you that youíre not getting in until you provide proper identification.

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