|HOW TO CREATE A SHORTCUT ICON|
In the Start Menu section I briefly explained and exampled the Shortcut Icon, with regards to the Start Menu and Desktop Shortcut Links, so in this section I will go into a little more detail so that you have a better understanding of the shortcut icon.
A standard icon is basically an image file in its own right, that has a file name extension of .ico, which in normal circumstances you never get to see.
You normally only see the image (.ico) file when it has been attached to a program (executable/code file), folder or shortcut icon already. This is
because an image (.ico) file is normally designed/created by a programmer or Windows 7, but not by you.
In the case of a programmer. When they have designed the image, using Icon Editor software, they then save that image as an .ico file before then attaching it to a program (executable/code file) using their Code Editor/Compiler. Whereas in the case of Windows 7. Microsoft has already pre-designed and pre-programmed Windows 7 with a set of standard image (.ico) files that are automatically created/used when need be. For example. When you create a New Folder it automatically has the standard Yellow Folder icon (folder .ico file) attached to it.
The diagram in Fig 1.0 above, line one, represents how Microsoft Word 2010 attaches its default .ico file (e.g. Word2010.ico) to a Letter written with
Microsoft Word 2010 to produce a Document (.docx) file called Letter.docx.
When a Letter is saved, using the SAVE (or SAVE AS) file option, Microsoft Word 2010 first saves that letter's content (wording/images/settings/etc) inside a newly created document (.docx) file. At this point though that .docx file has no icon (image/.ico file) attached to it. So the next task for Microsoft Word 2010, before actually saving the .docx file, is to attach its default W icon (Word2010 .ico file) to the .docx file. When that is done and the .docx file is actually saved, onto your hard drive for example, you end up with a .docx file that has a Microsoft Word 2010 icon on it that when double clicked on opens up the Microsoft Word 2010 program and displays the Letter.
The Letter is displayed by the program (Microsoft Word 2010) and not the icon. Windows 7 is the one that says "When an icon is double clicked on open up its associated program". In turn, that associated program then reads the Letter file (which is attached to the icon remember and is therefore part of the .docx file). Windows 7 knows which program is the associated program because that information is stored inside the icon (alongside the image). So the icon (.ico file) stores the Associated Program information as well as the Image. And the .docx file stores the Icon (.ico file) and the Letter (its wording, inserted pictures, settings and so on).
You can tell what associated program will be opened when you double click on a file (i.e. on the Letter.docx file) either by looking at the, distinctive, icon attached to the file (i.e. the WORD2010 logo icon) or by right clicking over the file (over the Letter.docx icon) to view its PROPERTIES. Right click over an icon to bring up its Options menu and then left click on the PROPERTIES menu-item. Note: "Clicking on a file" and "Clicking on an icon" are treated as the same thing because of the fact the two are attached/associated to each other.
Fig 1.1 Right click over an icon to select its PROPERTIES
Fig 1.2 Click on CHANGE to change the associated program an icon refers to
Looking at the PROPERTIES of the Letter.docx file (Fig 1.2 above) you can see it OPENS WITH Microsoft Office Word by default. Or put another way. Its
associated program is Microsoft Office Word. This is because the file itself is of FILE TYPE Microsoft Office Word Document and because Windows 7 is
currently set to associate any file with the .docx file extension to OPEN WITH Microsoft Word 2010. This association can be changed though by clicking
on the CHANGE button. Doing so will bring up the OPEN WITH requester whereby you can change the default associated program that opens Microsoft Word 2010
The CHANGE (OPEN WITH) option is especially good if you want to change the associated program for .jpg (picture) files or .mp3 (music) files for example but not really good for .docx (Word 2010) files as not many programs can open Word 2010 files....yet. Program Association can also be tackled using the Default Programs control panel.
A shortcut icon is the same as a normal icon, as described above, except that it is not attached to a file directly. It is associated via a Link instead
and more precisely links to a path name or file. Hence why it is also known as Shortcut
An .ico file is attached directly to a file in the case of a WORD 2010 document for example but if you wanted to create a shortcut icon for that WORD 2010 document it would only be a link to that document, which is not a bad thing. In fact, a shortcut icon can be very helpful. For example. Imagine you have the Letter.docx file on your Flash Drive in a sub-sub-folder called WordDocs in a sub-folder called OfficeFiles but cannot be bothered to double click through that folder path (Flash Drive >> OfficeFiles >> WordDocs) all the time just to open the Letter.docx file. A better solution would be to create a shortcut icon for that file.
To create a shortcut icon for a file simply right click over the file you want to create a shortcut icon for, to bring up its Options menu, and then select (left click on) the CREATE SHORTCUT menu-item. This will then create a shortcut icon inside that file's folder (Fig 1.4 below).
Once the shortcut icon has been created you then cut & paste it onto your desktop
or into another folder on your hard drive for example. In those cases where you need to edit/update a file from more than one computer (i.e. from your
computer, from an Internet Cafe computer, from your Friend's Laptop and so on) it is better to create a shortcut icon that is placed on each desktop of
those particular computers. That way when you unplug your flash drive from your computer and plug it into your friend's laptop for example, in order to
continue working on your file from their laptop, the shortcut icon you created on their laptop will work each time (as long as your file remains in the
same place on your flash drive).
Creating a shortcut icon that is automatically placed on the desktop for you, as opposed to you cutting & pasting it onto the desktop, is created in the same way as the above shortcut icon except you select the DESKTOP (CREATE SHORTCUT) sub-menu-item from the SEND TO sub-menu.
The above methods of creating shortcut icons, Figures 1.3 and Fig 1.5 above, can also be used to create shortcuts icons for a folder or sub-folder.
Another way to create a shortcut icon specifically for the desktop is to drag the file out of its folder and onto the desktop (Fig 1.7 below). As you drag the file out of the folder a little message (tooltip) appears stating COPY TO DESKTOP. When you see this message stop dragging (release the left mouse button) in order to drop the file and thus create the desktop shortcut icon. The same dragging technique can be done with a file, folder or program on the Start Menu (Fig 1.8 below).
A file, folder or program on the Start Menu is already a shortcut icon, with a link to its respective file, folder or program. So dragging one of these, Start Menu item, shortcut icons onto the desktop is exactly the same as copying & pasting that shortcut icon onto the desktop.
Be careful not to release the left mouse button too soon when dragging a start menu item (file, folder or program shortcut icon), otherwise you might drop it into a main folder by mistake. You can drop a start menu item into a main folder if you want to though. In this example (Fig 1.9 below) I have dragged the start menu item (Microsoft Word 2010 shortcut icon) from its original start menu position (the Pin-To-Menu area) over to the desktop, passing over the DOCUMENTS folder on my way (Fig 1.8 below).
Each shortcut icon is represented by an ARROW in its bottom-left corner, - shortcut in its name and behind the scenes it has a file extension name of
.lnk (link). Hence why a shortcut icon is also known as shortcut link. If you right click on a shortcut icon, to bring up its Options menu, and then
select the PROPERTIES menu-item you will see the path name of the link itself. In this example D:\Users\Yoingco\Pictures\john.jpg.
When you click (Start Menu) or double click (Desktop) on a shortcut icon its link (shortcut) is followed in order to find the actual file belonging to the shortcut icon and in turn to launch the program associated with the actual file, so that its data can be read/viewed.
Fig 1.12 Right click over a shortcut icon to view its PROPERTIES
Fig 1.13 TARGET is the actual shortcut link
The main aim for creating and using a shortcut icon is to avoid clicking through many folders just to get to one file. For example. The PICTURES shortcut
icon on the Start Menu is a shortcut link to your hard drive (root/main) folder (D: in this example), USERS sub-folder, USERNAME (i.e. Yoingco) sub-sub-folder
and PICTURES sub-sub-sub-folder. So instead of clicking through four folders just to view your picture files Windows 7 has provided you with the PICTURES shortcut icon
(link) to make life easier.
And it can be the same for your own files. If you use a folder or file regularly why not create a desktop shortcut icon for it. You can always store shortcut icons inside a folder on your desktop, called Shortcuts for example, if your desktop becomes full of shortcut icons.
In some cases you have a shortcut icon and want to get to its file or folder (path name) location fast. One way to do this is to click on the OPEN FILE LOCATION button of the SHORTCUT Tab (window) - see the Shortcut Properties window in Fig 1.13 above. And if you want to know which associated program opens the actual file all you need to do is click on the GENERAL Tab (window).
In the following example the Windows Photo Viewer program opens the john.jpg picture file. To change the associated program of a file you would click on the CHANGE button, as described in the paragraph immediately above Fig 1.1 above.
The path name (link) is also changable. I could for example change the path name of the john.jpg picture file to D:\computer.png, simply by clicking inside the TARGET edit box on the SHORTCUT Tab (window) and editing the path name, but I would have to make sure the path name is valid first (make sure the computer.png picture file exists on the D:\ hard drive) if I don't want Windows 7 to complain at editing time with the error: Problem With Shortcut.
Going back to the .ico (icon) file. If you remember, a data file (i.e. Letter) has an .ico file (i.e. Word2010.ico) attached to it by the program creating
its own kind of file (i.e. Letter.docx). The example below shows how a paint program uses its picture icon (picture.ico file) with your picture/photo data
(i.e. picture of john) to create a .jpg picture file.
It works in the same way as the Word2010 icon (Fig 1.0 above) but with one small difference. Windows 7 changes the picture icon (i.e. jar and paint brush) for that of your picture/photo data when the picture file (i.e. john.jpg) is viewed as a Thumbnail (i.e. as a Large Icon) only. When you are not viewing the picture file (i.e. john.jpg) as a Thumbnail Windows 7 normally reverts to using the icon of the default paint package instead.
Fig 1.15 A .jpg file created from the Picture icon and Picture data
Fig 1.16 The .jpg file and its shortcut icon
When a file has no program associated with it, perhaps because you do not have the correct software/program installed on your computer or you renamed the
file with an unknown file extension (i.e. john.123az), its icon will be viewable as a psuedo (default or unknown) icon only with no shortcut link due to
no program being associated with it.
If it's a case of you renaming the file by mistake with a bad file extension name you can easily rename the file of course, and if the associated program is not installed (i.e. you have a .pdf file but not Adobe Reader installed) you can easily download and install the program, but if the file has no immediately identifiable program associated with it then you will need to double click on the file in order to bring up the OPEN WITH message requester.
Fig 1.17 An unknown file with an extension name of .123az
Fig 1.18 Search for an associated program for this unknown file
The above will also apply when you get e-mailed an attachment whereby its file type (file extension) is unknown. In that case you would download (save) the unknown file to your DOWNLOADS folder for example and then try an open it with the OPEN WITH program requester. For more general information about this see the paragraph immediately above Fig 1.11 in the Set Default Programs section. That section and its related sections will also give you a better understanding of how file associations and program associations work.
As well as creating a shortcut icon for a file, folder and program you can also create a shortcut icon for a website simply by dragging its website icon
from internet explorer's address bar (www.???.com bar) over to the desktop or onto the taskbar. In the above example I have already clicked on the black
and white logo (icon) of www.bbc.co.uk and proceeded to drag it over to the desktop.
Normally you would add a website to your Internet Favorites list but sometimes you may want your favorite website as a desktop shortcut icon instead.
Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation. As stated here by the Microsoft Corporation.