Adding Windows App Shortcuts to the Desktop

In the Free Windows class today, we discovered you can’t create a Desktop shortcut to a Windows app in the Windows Start Menu.

This, of course, intrigued me. I did my due diligence and am happy to explain how to add a Windows App shortcut to the Windows Desktop!

Follow these steps:

Open the Windows Apps folder in the Run dialog

  • Open the Run dialog (Windows Key-R)
  • Type: shell:AppsFolder
  • Press ENTER

The Windows Apps Folder opens with an icon view. You can change the view in the View menu:

  • Open the View menu (ALT-V)
  • Press UP and DOWN ARROW to select an alternative view
  • Press ENTER on a view
    • I suggest “List”

Navigate the icons with Windows list view navigation:

  • ALL FOUR ARROW KEYS
  • PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN
  • HOME and END
  • First letter navigation
  • First several letter navigation

Focus on an application for which you want to create a shortcut.

One note on Mail! If you have Apple iCloud installed, there are two mail apps. One takes you to the Apple Mail online interface. The second is the Windows Mail app.

Copy and paste the shortcut to the Windows Desktop:

  • Focus on the application for which you want to create a Desktop Shortcut
  • Copy the shortcut to the Windows Clipboard (CTRL-C)
  • Close the Windows Apps folder (ALT-F4)
  • Focus on the Windows Desktop (WINDOWS KEY-D)
  • Paste the shortcut to the Windows Desktop (CTRL-V)

The shortcut is available for immediate use!

You can also use the Windows Application Menu to pin the app to the Start Menu or Taskbar:

  • Focus on an app
  • Open the Windows Application Menu (WINDOWS APPLICATION KEY or SHIFT-F10)
  • Activate:
    • Pin to Taskbar
    • Pin to Start Menu

Close the Apps list (ALT-F4).

You’re done!

Thanks to all who attended the Free Windows Training Course, you’re encouraging me to learn new things as well!

Disable Task View Timeline

When you open the Windows Task View (WINDOWS KEY-TAB), there are three elements.

  • Virtual Desktop Management – Add New Virtual Desktops and Navigate open Desktops (Press SHIFT-TAB to focus in Virtual Desktops)
  • Open Applications – This is the default focus
  • Task View Timeline – Application Windows you’ve opened on previous dates (Press TAB to access the Timeline)

If you don’t want the Task View Timeline, you can disable it in Windows Privacy Settings.

To disable the Task View timeline:

  • Open the Start Menu (WINDOWS KEY or CTRL-ESCAPE)
  • Search for and activate “Privacy Settings” without the quotes

By default, focus is on the first General Privacy setting control.

  • Press SHIFT-TAB once to focus in the settings group list
  • Press UP and DOWN ARROW to navigate the list
  • Press ENTER on “Activity History”

Focus is placed on Activity History settings. Press TAB and SHIFT-TAB to navigate controls.

There are several check boxes that manage how your activity history is shared with Microsoft. Press SPACEBAR to toggle checkboxes.

Configure the following:

  • Store my activity history on this device – Windows saves applications, websites and services you’ve accessed
  • Send my activity history to Microsoft – Your activity history is saved to Microsoft and available on all your Windows devices
  • Show Activities from these accounts – Accounts associated with your computer are listed. You can toggle activity sharing off for one or more accounts
  • Clear – Activate this button to clear activity history from Microsoft’s servers. Your history is removed and isn’t retrievable

If you uncheck all the check boxes, the Timeline is removed.

After configuring these settings, close the settings window (ALT-F4).

The Task View timeline is removed and your activity as tracked according to your specifications.

There are other options in Privacy Settings you may find useful. I encourage exploration!

Open a Web Page Desktop Shortcut in a Specific Browser

When discussing Desktop shortcuts in the Free Windows class, someone asked how to open a web page in a specific browser.

As it turns out, this is easier than it seems.

By default, Desktop shortcuts open the Windows default browser. If you like using a specific browser for some web pages, follow the steps below to create a shortcut that opens in the browser you specify!

What You’ll Need

You’ll need some information before you create your Desktop shortcut. Before moving to the Desktop, gather this information:

  • The path to the browser executable you want to use in the shortcut
  • The web page address

Finding a browser path is easier than it looks. I’ll show you how to find the browser path, find a web page address and create your shortcut.

Find a Browser Path

There are a variety of browsers available on the Internet. Whether you opt to use Edge, Chrome, Firefox or another browser, you’ll find the browser path in the same way.

Just one quick tip… make sure the browser is installed on your computer!

To find a browser path:

  • Open the Start Menu (WINDOWS KEY or CTRL-ESCAPE)
  • Search for the browser you want to use (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, etc.)
  • Focus on the browser name and open the Windows Application Menu (WINDOWS APPLICATION KEY or SHIFT-F10)
  • Press UP and DOWN ARROW to navigate the menu
  • Press ENTER on “Open File Location”

File Explorer opens with focus on the browser shortcut. You can verify the selected shortcut with your screen reader.

To read the selected item:

  • JAWS for Windows
    • Desktop layout SHIFT-JAWS KEY-NUMBER ROW 2
    • Laptop layout SHIFT-JAWS KEY-DOWN ARROW
  • NVDA
    • SHIFT-NVDA-UP ARROW

With focus on the browser shortcut, open the Windows Application Menu with WINDOWS APPLICATION KEY or SHIFT-F10.

Press UP and DOWN ARROW to navigate the menu. Press ENTER on “Properties”

By default, focus is placed in the properties “Target” edit field. This field has the application path.

The path is selected. Press CTRL-C to copy to the Windows Clipboard.

Don’t press any ARROW KEYS to read the path. If you do, selection is removed. If you absolutely must read the path, press CTRL-A to select all field text.

After selecting the text, tap ESCAPE to close the shortcut properties.

Press CTRL-W to close the File Explorer Window.

Open the Shortcut Creation Wizard

Create Desktop a shortcut in the Shortcut Creation Wizard. To open the wizard, follow these steps:

  • Focus on the Windows Desktop (WINDOWS KEY-D or WINDOWS KEY-M)
  • Press ANY ARROW KEY to focus on a Desktop icon
  • Press CTRL-SPACEBAR to remove selection. This places focus on the Desktop rather than the Desktop icon
  • Open the Windows Application Menu (WINDOWS APPLICATION KEY or SHIFT-F10)
  • Press UP and DOWN ARROW to navigate the menu
  • Press ENTER on the “New” submenu
  • Within the “New” submenu, activate “Shortcut”

The Shortcut Creation Wizard opens.

Create the Shortcut

When the Shortcut Creation Wizard opens, focus is placed in an edit field.

This edit field accepts docuemnt and folder paths, website addresses, and more.

Paste the browser path into the edit field (CTRL-V). The path is inserted.

Press SPACEBAR to add a space after the browser path and input the web page you’d like to open in the selected browser.

For example: On my computer, the path to Firefox is: “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”

I want to create a shortcut to my website using Firefox so, I input the followign:

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” www.blind.training

After inputting the browser path and website address (make sure there’s a space between the two), press TAB until focus is on the “Next” button and activate it with SPACEBAR.

Focus is placed in another edit field. Type a name for your new shortcut.

Activate the “Finish” button and your new shortcut is created on the Desktop.

When you activate the shortcut, the designated web page opens in the selected browser.

Disable Cortana in Windows 10 Professional

When discussing the Start Menu and Taskbar, lots of students found Cortana got in the way. Personally, I tend to agree. There are so many devices that fill this role, I don’t use Cortana.

Windows 10 Home requires a registry hack to remove Cortana. I don’t recommend this.

I can help Windows 10 Professional users disable Cortana. To disable Cortana, follow the steps below:

  • Open the Group Policy Editor in the Windows Run Dialog:
    • Open the Run dialog (WINDOWS KEY-R)
    • Input “gpedit.msc” without the quotes
    • Press ENTER

The Group Policy Editor opens. The main display is split into two panes.

  • A tree view with system locations
  • A list view through which you can configure settings

By default, focus is in the list view. Press SHIFT-TAB once to focus in the tree view. Navigate the tree view with Windows tree view navigation commands:

  • UP and DOWN ARROW
  • PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN
  • HOME and END
  • First letter navigation
  • First several letter navigation

As you navigate the tree view, you’ll find that branch are “Open” and “Closed.” Open and close branches with Windows commands:

  • Press RIGHT ARROW to open a branch
  • Press LEFT ARROW to close a branch

Navigate the tree view with the above commands

  • Focus on and open the “Computer Configuration” tree branch
  • Within the Computer Configuration branch, open the “Administrative Templates” branch
  • Within “Administrative Templates,” open the “Windows Components” branch
  • Within “Windows Components,” focus on “Search”
    • Press S to quickly focus on this option

Press TAB to move to the right side of the Window. A list view has Search configurations

Navigate the list view with Windows list view navigation:

  • UP and DOWN ARROW
  • PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN
  • HOME and END
  • First letter navigation
  • First several letter navigation

Focus on “Allow Cortana.” Press ENTER to open the “Alllow Cortana” dialog.

Press TAB and SHIFT-TAB to navigate dialog controls.

Focus on the Radio buttons. Listen to your screen reader. There are three radio buttons. The “Enabled” radio button is selected.

Press UP and DOWN ARROW to select a radio button. When a radio button is selected, the other radio buttons are unselected.

Select the “Disabled” radio button.

Press TAB until focus is on the “OK” button. Press SPACEBAR to save the changes and exit the dialog.

Press ALT-F4 to close the Group Policy Editor.

Cortana is disabled in Windows 10 Professional.

Add a Path to the Windows Path Variable

This topic was brought up during my Free Windows Training Course. Rather than replying to everyone individually, I thought I’d post this information on my Blog for easy reference.

In the class, we discussed the Run dialog. I illustrated how you can add Desktop Shortcuts to the Windows folder and use the Shortcut names to launch documents and applications from the Windows Run dialog.

The topic was raised about creating a Desktop folder into which you can add the shortcuts and add the Desktop folder to the Windows Path.

I thought this was a brilliant idea and researched. To add a folder to the Windows path, follow the steps below:

Create a Folder on the Windows Desktop

You’ll need an administrator account to edit the Windows path variable.

Create a folder on the Windows Desktop to which you’d like to add Run dialog shortcuts.

  • Create a folder on the Windows Desktop
    • Focus on the Windows Desktop (WINDOWS KEY-D or WINDOWS KEY-M)
    • Press CTRL-SHIFT-N
      1. This is the Windows command to create a new shortcut in a list view
    • The new folder is created
    • Type the new name
    • Press ENTER
    • The folder is created
  • Select the folder and open the Enhanced Windows Application Folder (SHIFT-WINDOWS KEY or CTRL-SHIFT-F10)
  • Activate “Copy as Path”

With the folder path copied to the Windows Clipboard, you’re ready to add it to the Windows path variable.

Edit the Windows Path Variable

To add the copied path to the Windows Path Variable, do one of the following:

  • Open System Properties in the Start Menu
    • Open the Windows Start Menu (WINDOWS KEY or CTRL-ESCAPE)
    • Type “Variable” without the quotes
    • The first option is “Edit the System Environment Variables”
    • Press ENTER on this option
    • The System Properties dialog opens
  • Open System Properties in the Control Panel
    • Open the Start Menu (WINDOWS KEY or CTRL-ESCAPE
    • Search for and open the Control Panel
    • Within the Control Panel, activate “System”
    • Within the System applet, activate “Advanced System Settings”
    • The System Properties dialog opens

Within the System Properties dialog, follow these steps:

  • Press TAB and SHIFT-TAB to navigate dialog controls
  • Focus on the “Environment Variables” button
  • Press SPACEBAR to activate the button
  • The Environmental Variables dialog opens

By default, focus is on a list of user variables.

  • Press UP and DOWN ARROW until focus is on “Path”
  • Your screen reader echoes “Path” followed by the Windows path variable
  • With focus on path, navigate to and activate the “Edit” button
  • Another dialog opens with a list of paths on the left and a series of buttons on the right
  • Navigate to and activate the “New” button
    • A new entry is added beneath the existing paths
  • Paste the path from the Windows clipboard (CTRL-V)
  • Navigate to and activate the OK button

Close the System Properties dialog by activating the OK button.

Close the system applet and Control Panel. You’re done!

Any shortcuts you add to your new folder will work in the run dialog. Just remember, don’t add spaces to the shortcut names! Keep it simple.

Have a wonderful day!