In this post I will show you how to create desktop shortcut using Group Policy. An easy way to deploy or add desktop shortcuts is use a GPO and deploy it to domain users.
Group Policies allow you to create a shortcut to a specific app on the desktops of all (or some) domain users. Using GPO you can create an application shortcut that’s installed locally on computers.
In addition you can specify a company URL, an executable file on a shared network folder or a domain controller. When you deploy the GPO in your domain, the shortcuts appear on the user desktop of each domain joined computer.
Since the icons are deployed via Group Policy, the icons will automatically appear when manually deleted by users. However a log off may be required to see the deleted icon back on desktop.
Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy
Here are the steps to create a desktop shortcut using Group Policy. On your Windows Server, open the Group Policy Management Console. You can do this either on your domain controller or a member server installed with GPMC console.
In the GPMC console, expand Domains. Right click your domain and click Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here.
You can name this policy as deploy desktop shortcuts or app shortcuts or anything meaningful. Click OK.
Edit the GPO that you just created.
In the GPMC editor, expand User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Shortcuts. Right click Shortcuts > New > click Shortcut.
In the New Shortcut Properties window, specify the Action as Create. Type the name of the shortcut and specify the Target Type as URL.
Set the Location as All Users Desktop and specify the Target URL. In this example, I am creating a shortcut that links to my blog.
Finally you must specify a Icon File.
Click OK. The GPO desktop shortcut is now ready. You can still go back and edit the shortcut if required.
Run a gpupdate on the client computers or log off and login. You should see the desktop icon on the desktop. Clicking the icon takes you to the target URL in default browser.
If you want to modify GPO refresh interval time, refer Modify Group Policy Refresh Interval for Windows computers.