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Windows Legacy OS forum

General discussion

How does a shortcut work

by royeo / January 29, 2009 10:59 AM PST

I have Windows XP Pro, SP3.

Windows Help defines a shortcut as: "A link to any item accessible on your computer or on a network, such as a program, file, folder, disk drive, Web page, printer, or another computer. You can put shortcuts in various areas, such as on the desktop, on the Start menu, or in specific folders."

I want to know how they work. Can somebody please tell me how a shortcut works?



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Another name for a macro . . .
by Coryphaeus / January 29, 2009 7:04 PM PST

A shortcut is simply a command taken to a single line of code. Sort of like a batch file in the old DOS days. You can write several lines of code and give it a name. Then, when typing the name, all the lines of code are executed. A shortcut is just another name for a simple DOS-like command.

Right click on any shortcut and click properties.

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Re: Shortcut....
by royeo / January 30, 2009 6:34 AM PST

Thank you.

Roy O'Neill

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Take a look at this helpful page
by Slikkster / January 29, 2009 7:17 PM PST
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Re: How does a shortcut work
by royeo / January 30, 2009 6:38 AM PST

Thank you.

Roy O'Neill

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Do you mean how the code works?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 29, 2009 7:21 PM PST

Or just in general terms?

I don't know how the code works, so I will stay away from that.

Have a look at a shortcut on your Desktop. You should have one or more. If you do, right click it, (place your mouse over the icon, and click the right hand mouse button), and you will see a menu display. Select Properties.

A small dialog window will open headed "xxx Properties" where xxx is the name of the shortcut. There will be 2 or more tabs, and in the General tab you will see Location. This is where the shortcut is pointing to. The target is described under the Shortcut tab.

Software is stored on the hard disk in various locations. Windows allows us to see these locations as files, eg googleearth.exe is a file for software on my computer that opens Google Earth. Windows also allows us to group together files into folders, a useful tool, otherwise software files would all be grouped together in one long list, and that would be difficult to navigate.

It's a bit like a filing cabinet. You have a cabinet with 4 pull out drawers, and each drawer has separate compartments, usually cardboard containers, or similar. If a drawer is a hard drive, then the cardboard containers are folders, and inside each folders are files. If you need to find a file, you go hunting through the drawers. But if you had an "Index Card" system, that would tell you precisely where you stored any particular file. That's what a shortcut is, an index card.

Imagine a filing cabinet with 4 drawers but nothing else. When you file a piece of paper, you just open a drawer and throw it inside. Do that a few hundred or thousand times, then come back later looking for a specific piece of paper. How would you manage to find that?

What a shortcut does is to allow us to quickly point Windows to a file and open it. That file may be a document, or a photo, music, video, etc, or it may be a file that opens into an application. Without the shortcut, we would have to search the hard drive for the file in question and double click it to open it.

That's all it does. It 'points' to a location. The location is usually somewhere on the hard disk, but it can also be a web site, or a location on another computer, eg a network.

Does that help?


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Re: How does a shortcut work
by royeo / January 30, 2009 6:41 AM PST

Thank you.

Roy O'Neill

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