Group PolicyWindows Server

Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy (GPO)

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.

Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy (GPO)
Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy (GPO)

You can name this policy as deploy desktop shortcuts or app shortcuts or anything meaningful. Click OK.

Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy (GPO)
Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy (GPO)

Edit the GPO that you just created.

Edit the Group Policy
Edit the Group Policy

In the GPMC editor, expand User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Shortcuts. Right click Shortcuts > New > click Shortcut.

Create a Shortcut
Create a 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.

Create Desktop Shortcut using Group Policy GPO Snap8

Click OK. The GPO desktop shortcut is now ready. You can still go back and edit the shortcut if required.

Group Policy to add Shortcuts
Group Policy to add Shortcuts

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.

Web URL Desktop Shortcut
Web URL Desktop Shortcut

If you want to modify GPO refresh interval time, refer Modify Group Policy Refresh Interval for Windows computers.

Prajwal Desai

Hi, I am Prajwal Desai. For last few years I have been working on multiple technologies such as SCCM / Configuration Manager, Intune, Azure, Security etc. I created this site so that I can share valuable information with everyone.

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  1. I added custom icon for desktop url shortcut and applied gpupdate.
    on server icon appears but on client machines icon not appearing

    Could you please help me how icons should be appears in all client machine as well ?

  2. Is it possible to define compatibility settings via GPO on specific shortcuts such as “Override high DPI scaling behavior”?

    1. You can’t pin a URL shortcut to the taskbar as it will only pin the broswer used.
      google how to make a website an app, its available in chrome and edge as far as i know

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