Changing Shortcut Properties

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 11, 2018)


Every Windows object possesses properties that control its behavior or use. Shortcuts are no exception. You can view the properties for a shortcut by right-clicking on the shortcut icon and choosing Properties from the context menu. The Properties dialog box appears. The Shortcut tab of the Properties dialog box is displayed by default. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Shortcut tab of the Properties dialog box.

This tab contains information about the shortcut's target, or the file to which it points. In addition, it contains information about how the target should be run.

The first field in the dialog box is the Target field. The information contained here was derived when you first created the shortcut. This is the path and name of the file to which the shortcut points. If you change the information in the field, then you change the nature of the shortcut by changing to what it points. Changing the target also changes the icon that is used for the shortcut, but it does not change the name of the shortcut itself.

The next four fields in the dialog box allow you to control how the target is executed. First, in the Start In field, you can specify what directory to use when starting the program or opening the file. This path does not have meaning for shortcuts to documents, but it can mean quite a bit in shortcuts to programs. By changing the value in this field, you can control what data are immediately available to a program when it is started. For instance, you may create three shortcuts to your accounting program, one each for the years 2016, 2017, and 2018. The only difference between the three may be the value set in the Start In field. In the first shortcut, the field should be set to the path that contains the 2016 accounting data. In the second, the path to the 2017 data is used, and the third contains the path of the 2018 data.

The next field, Shortcut Key, allows you to specify a keyboard combination that runs the shortcut. This combination can also be used to switch to the program window if you have already opened the shortcut. By default, the Shortcut key field is set to None, meaning that no key combination is specified. If you choose to change the value of this field, enter the characters CTRL, ALT, or CTRL+ALT, followed by the key to be used in combination with these. As an example, if you wanted to use the key combination of Ctrl+R, then you would enter CTRL+R in the Shortcut Key field.

When choosing a shortcut key for a shortcut (sounds redundant, doesn't it?), don't use a key combination that is already used by a different Windows program. Doing so makes the shortcut key in the Windows program unavailable.

The next field in the dialog box, Run, allows you to specify how the program that is being indirectly run by the shortcut should begin. You can make three choices here: Normal window, Minimized, and Maximized. You can pick the one that reflects how you want the program to be started.

The final field in the dialog box, Comment, allows you to make a note to yourself that explains something about your shortcut. This can be very helpful for jogging your memory a couple of months down the road when you've completely forgotten why you ever created this shortcut in the first place.

Finally, at the bottom of the dialog box are three buttons. These allow you to make the following customizations:

  • Open File Location. This button opens a folder window that shows the file that is used as the target.
  • Change Icon. This button allows you to change the base icon that is used for the shortcut. Notice that I said the "base icon." Changing the icon does not eliminate the shortcut identifier (the upturned arrow) on the icon. This is included automatically for all shortcuts.
  • Advanced. This button allows you to control a few advanced configuration options for how the program pointed to by the shortcut is run within Windows.

Most of the time you'll only want to modify the properties made available in the Shortcut tab. You can, if you desire, explore the other tabs in the dialog box. Each of them provides a number of pieces of information and controls that affect how the shortcut is used by Windows.

 This tip (10869) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 7 - 4?

2019-01-29 11:00:42

J. Woolley


Try this. Open an elevated command prompt (described later), then type the following commands to create a symbolic link (symlink):
MKLINK /D "petrolvalves forms" "Data\petrolvalves forms"
DIR "petrolvalves forms"
Now see if your old shortcuts work. If you need to delete the symlink, use the following commands:
RD "petrolvalves forms"

To open an elevated command prompt using Windows File Explorer, right-click C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe and pick "Run as administrator."

2019-01-28 14:25:26


Is there a way to change the shortcut paths of multiple shortcuts at once?

We have a new server and now ALL my old shortcuts paths are no longer valid.

they used to be "F:\petrolvalves forms\"

Now the path is "F:\Data\petrolvalves forms\"

It would be a nightmare to change all paths individually...

Hope you can help.


2018-12-07 03:55:07


Hello Sir
I need help to remove the keyboard shortcuts for office 2010 which I have removed from my computer. Earlier when Office 2010 was installed, I had assigned Ctrl+Alt+E for MS Excel and Ctrl+Atl+W for MS word. I am Win 10.
Thanks in advance

2018-07-11 03:24:27


Can you do this programmatically? i.e. via a script (batch, Powershell).

2017-07-10 08:09:39


Is it possible to make "run" itself always run as administrator? When I go to shortcut advanced properties "always run as administrator" checkbox is grayed.

2016-11-18 09:43:41


If properties doesn't have the shortcut/change icon option how do I change the icon?
Windows 10
Program: Libreoffice
The shortcut has the change icon option but the target file does not therefore the shortcut icon is changed on the desktop but the old icon is displayed on the taskbar.

2016-07-17 23:15:49


Still not clear on function of 'start in' folder. In your example, what actually is the difference of specifying the 3 different years you mention? How does this affect the program's functionality. What does it actually mean to "start in" a specific folder?

2016-05-23 13:30:56


What about shortcuts to web pages? When I assign a function key to one of these shortcuts a reboot seems to clear it. Any ideas?

2015-09-28 17:38:23

Dave Yule

Can version numbers be added to the shortcut so that a user would always know which version of the software was being used?

2015-08-19 12:07:42


I have a PC that allows remote access to several users. Each user has their own installation to the same application. So it's installed into c:users"userid"apps"appname". Each user has a shortcut on their desktop to the app. in a generic location under their ID. For example, when I right-click on the short cut and look at the properties the "Target" is set correctly to "C:Usersgreend11MapsbinStartOxygen.exe". However, the "Start in" folder contains the "userid" of the last person that updated the "Start in" property of the shortcut. For example, the "Start in" is set to "C:Userssellbj1AppsOxygen" instead off "C:Usersgreend11AppsOxygen" because the user "sellbj1" installed the app after greend11 did.

I would expect the "Start in" property would be unique per user just like the "Target" property. If that not how it should work?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.


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