Shortcuts: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about shortcuts.

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What is a shortcut?

A shortcut is a link to a file or program, represented by an icon. If you double-click a shortcut, the file or program opens. It's a great way to keep frequently used files in a single, easily accessed location, such as a folder or the desktop.

How can I tell which files are shortcuts?

Shortcuts look different from ordinary files. Shortcut icons have an arrow in the lower-left corner, as in this example:

Picture of a typical file and its shortcut
A typical file and its shortcut

What kinds of files can have shortcuts?

You can create a shortcut for almost any kind of file. In addition to documents, pictures, music, folders, and programs, you can create shortcuts for links to websites.

Can I copy or move a shortcut?

Yes. You can either copy or move a shortcut to a new location and it will continue to open the original file. The easiest way to move a shortcut is to drag it to the new location.

What happens if I delete the shortcut or the original file?

If you delete the original file, the shortcut will no longer work, so you should delete the shortcut as well. If you delete the shortcut, the original file is not affected. You can delete a shortcut if you no longer need it.

Can I rename a shortcut?

Yes. You can rename a shortcut in the same way that you rename any other kind of file. Right-click the shortcut, and then click Rename. Type a new name for the shortcut, and then press ENTER.

Why has one of my shortcuts stopped working?

If you double-click a shortcut and the Missing Shortcut dialog box appears, it means the original file was moved or deleted. If you know where the original file is now located, you can click Browse and specify the new location. If not, delete the shortcut because it is no longer useful.

Can I change a shortcut icon?

Yes, although changing the icon does not remove the shortcut arrow. To change the icon, right-click the shortcut, and then click Properties. Click Change Icon, click a new icon in the list, and then click OK. The shortcut will be displayed with its new icon.


  • The Shortcut Properties dialog box includes other options that can cause your shortcut to stop working. If you change the file information in the Target box, for example, the shortcut will no longer point to the original program.

Can I remove the arrow from a shortcut icon?

No. Shortcut icons include small arrows to remind you that they are shortcuts. This makes it easy to identify whether an icon is for a shortcut or an original file so that you don't mistakenly delete an original file when you mean to delete a shortcut.