Creating a desktop shortcut programatically

Posted on 2002-07-22
Last Modified: 2013-12-03
How do I create a desktop shortcut (.lnk) programatically? either fron an application (c++) or from the shell (command line).
Question by:aarone
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Roshan Davis
ID: 7169192
Find "Using Shell Links in Windows 95" in MSDN, You can find a GOOD Sample ...

Good Luck
LVL 86

Accepted Solution

jkr earned 200 total points
ID: 7169207
See ("Shell Links") - it comes with sample code:

// CreateLink - uses the Shell's IShellLink and IPersistFile interfaces
//              to create and store a shortcut to the specified object.
// Returns the result of calling the member functions of the interfaces.
// Parameters:
// lpszPathObj  - address of a buffer containing the path of the object.
// lpszPathLink - address of a buffer containing the path where the
//                Shell link is to be stored.
// lpszDesc     - address of a buffer containing the description of the
//                Shell link.

HRESULT CreateLink(LPCSTR lpszPathObj, LPCSTR lpszPathLink, LPCSTR lpszDesc)
   HRESULT hres;
   IShellLink* psl;

   // Get a pointer to the IShellLink interface.
   hres = CoCreateInstance(CLSID_ShellLink, NULL, CLSCTX_INPROC_SERVER,
                           IID_IShellLink, (LPVOID*)&psl);
   if (SUCCEEDED(hres))
       IPersistFile* ppf;

       // Set the path to the shortcut target and add the description.

       // Query IShellLink for the IPersistFile interface for saving the
       // shortcut in persistent storage.
       hres = psl->QueryInterface(&IID_IPersistFile, (LPVOID*)&ppf);

       if (SUCCEEDED(hres))
           WCHAR wsz[MAX_PATH];

           // Ensure that the string is Unicode.
           MultiByteToWideChar(CP_ACP, 0, lpszPathLink, -1, wsz, MAX_PATH);
           // TODO: Check return value from MultiByteWideChar to ensure

           // Save the link by calling IPersistFile::Save.
           hres = ppf->Save(wsz, TRUE);
   return hres;
From: jhance  Date: 07/04/2002 12:44PM PST  
To make a shortcut anywhere, use the IShellLink COM interface exported by the Windows Shell.

By the way, you may want to get a copy of Dino Esposito's book, Windows Shell Programming...

Anyway, a nice sample from that book:

 LPTSTR pszTarget;
 LPTSTR pszDesc;
 WORD wHotKey;
 LPTSTR pszIconPath;
 WORD wIconIndex;

 WCHAR wszLinkFile[MAX_PATH] = {0];
IShellLink* pShellLink = NULL;
IPersistFile* pPF = NULL;

if(lpss == NULL){
 return E_FAIL;

HRESULT hr = CoCreateInstance(CLSID_ShellLink, NULL, CLSCTX_INPROC_SERVER, IID_IShellLink, reinterpret_cast<LPVOID*>(&pShellLink));

 return hr;

pShellLink->SetIconLocation(lpss->pszIconPath, lpss->wIconIndex);

hr = pShellLink->QueryInterface(IID_IPersistFile, reinterpret_cast<LPVOID*>(&pPF));

 return hr;

MultiByteToWideChar(CP_ACP, MB_PRECOMPOSED, szLnkFile, 01, wszLinkFile, MAX_PATH);

hr = pPF->Save(wszLnkFile, TRUE);

return hr;


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