Adding shortcuts on desktop using Group Policy Preferences in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

Adding shortcuts on desktop using Group Policy Preferences in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

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Hi All!

My name is Saurabh Koshta and I am with the Core Team at Microsoft. Currently I work in the client space so supporting all aspects of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 is my primary role.

We very often get calls from customers who are evaluating Windows 8/Windows 8.1 for deployment, but are concerned about some of the changes in the UI that may confuse their users. A typical concern we hear is that users are used to having shortcuts on the desktop for Computer, Documents, and Network. So, I wanted to take a minute to show you how you can easily add those shortcuts (or others) to desktops using Group Policy Preferences.

I have an OU in my domain called “Domain Computers”, which has Windows 8 machines.

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The next step is to create a policy and link in to the “Domain Computers” OU. In this case it is called “Shortcut”

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Edit the policy and go to the following location:

Computer Configuration -- > Preferences -- > Windows Settings -- > Shortcuts

Highlight Shortcuts and on the right pane, right click and select new Shortcut

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In the ‘New Shortcut Properties’, make the following changes so the values look like below:

1. Action : Update

2. Target type : Shell Object

3. Location : All Users Desktop

4. For Target object, click on the browse option and then chose ‘Computer’

5. Name : My Computer

Leave rest of the options as default. Once you have made all the changes, it would look like below:

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Similarly for Network the options are:

1. Action : Update

2. Target type : Shell Object

3. Location : All Users Desktop

4. For Target object, click on the browse option and then chose ‘Network’

5. Name : My Network Places

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And for Libraries the options are:

1. Action : Update

2. Target type : Shell Object

3. Location : All Users Desktop

4. For Target object, click on the browse option and then chose ‘Libraries’

5. Name : My Documents

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So we have the following three shortcuts

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Restart the client and once logged in with a domain user, the desktop would have the three shortcuts as listed above and it would look something like below:

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The above steps also work with Windows 8.1. Here is how it looks:

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Hope you all find this information useful.

Thanks,

Saurabh Koshta

  • Desktop shortcuts are a bit old fashion, how do I use GPPs to pin apps to the taskbar or the modern start screen?

  • Hey Jason - that is a *really* good question and probably merits its own blog post. I'm going to go pester some folks and see if we can get that one written and posted up for you.

  • Thanks David! GPP is an underappreciated feature, even on this blog. This is the first post tagged with Group Policy Preferences in almost two years. :)

  • Thank you for sharing these details!

    - Ashok

  • @David and Jason - I'd like to see a post to pin apps to the taskbar and start screen too.

  • Incredibly helpful! Thank you!
    When I went looking for this functionality, my first thought was "surely this is a policy setting".