Windows doesn’t readily allow you to drag folder shortcuts to the taskbar – but it can be done

Shortcut SignIt is useful to be able to drag desktop shortcuts onto the taskbar so that they are easily found whether or not the desktop is being displayed. If, however, you have desktop shortcuts that are shortcuts to folders, then it doesn’t work. Dragging the folder shortcut to the taskbar simply creates another shortcut to File Explorer (known as Windows Explorer in earlier versions of Windows). Admittedly, you can right-click on this shortcut and find that your folder is “pinned” for easy access, but this isn’t as convenient as having a taskbar shortcut that you simply have to click on once in order to open one specific folder.

What we have to do instead is to create a desktop shortcut that opens File Explorer with the special instruction that File Explorer is to open the folder of your choice. Since that shortcut opens a program, it can be dragged onto the taskbar, where it will perform exactly like other taskbar shortcuts that open programs – ie it will open the program File Explorer at the folder specified in the “special instruction”.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Right-click on an “empty” part of the desktop (ie somewhere other than on top of an existing shortcut)
  • Left-click on “New” and then left-click on “Shortcut”
  • Left-click on “Browse” and locate the folder for which you would like to create the shortcut
  • Click on the lefthand end of the folder name as it now appears in the box and add the text “explorer” (without the quotes) and then a space (as illustrated below)
  • Click on the “Next” button
  • (Optionally) rename the shortcut to the name of the folder. Note, though, that you can not include “special characters” in the name of a shortcut, so you can not rename the shortcut to the full “pathname” of the folder (such as “d:\downloads”). You have to settle for something simpler (like “Downloads”)
  • Click on the “Finish” button
  • Drag the shortcut down onto the taskbar

Folder Shortcut
However, before taking the last step above, you might like to change the icon of the shortcut as, otherwise, your new folder-specific Explorer shortcut will just have the default Explorer icon, making it indistinguishable from the normal, default, File Explorer shortcut that has always been present on the taskbar.

To change the icon of a shortcut:

  • Right-click on the shortcut
  • Left-click on “Properties”
  • Left-click on the “Shortcut” tab at the top of the dialogue box that has now opened
  • Left-click on the “Change Icon” button
  • Left-click on a desired icon and then click on “OK” twice to close both the open dialogue boxes

You can now now drag the shortcut onto the taskbar.

Green Windows FolderIf you want to get even more clever with it, you can choose from a much bigger range of available icons for your shortcut. After clicking on the “Change Icon” button (above), if you click on the “Browse” button, you can select any “.exe” or “.dll” file on your computer to see if it has icons in it that you can use. Not all dll files have icons, so just try another if you select one that doesn’t have any. Possibly the largest selection of icons are to be found in the file C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll. Changing the icon of a shortcut in this way won’t affect the functionality of the shortcut and it won’t affect the dll or exe file from which the icon has been “lifted”.

I think you will find that this method of creating a taskbar shortcut for folders works in Windows 7, 8, and 10.

© 2011-2018 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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