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Stupid Geek Tricks: Add Apps to the Windows 7 Explorer Favorites List

00_custom_favorites_list

Do you spend a lot of time using Windows Explorer? Wouldn’t it be handy if you could start your favorite program right from within the Explorer window? There’s an easy way to add applications to your Favorites List in Explorer.

We have previously shown you how to add your own folders to the Favorites list for quick access to often-used files. However, if you try to drag an application to the Favorites list, a message displays telling you the link cannot be placed in Favorites. However, you can get around this limitation.

To add a program to the Favorites list, open Windows Explorer and enter %userprofile%\Links or C:\Users\[user name]\Links in the address bar and press Enter. Replace “[user name]” with your account user name, as shown below.

01_opening_links_folder

Drag a program shortcut from the Start menu, desktop, or other location to the Links folder. You can also copy shortcuts and paste them into the Links folder.

02_dragging_program_to_links_folder

The program links are immediately available in the Favorites list in the left pane of the Explorer window. Simply click on a link in the list to start that program.

03_programs_added_to_favorites

You can drag and drop the links in the Favorites list in the left pane (not in the Links folder in the right pane) to reorder them.

04_reordering_favorites_list_custom

You can also sort the Favorites list alphabetically by name. To do this, right-click on Favorites in the left pane and select Sort by name from the popup menu.

05_sorting_favorites_by_name

To remove custom program links from the Favorites list, simply delete the appropriate shortcuts from the Links folder. If you accidentally delete the Desktop, Downloads, or Recent Places shortcuts, you can easily restore them by right-clicking on the Favorites heading again and select Restore favorite links.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 08/29/11

Comments (14)

  1. thenonhacker

    I wouldn’t recommend that.

    So now I have to click Windows Explorer and click the App Shortcut from the Explorer Favorites? Why do that, when I can pin app shortcuts to the Start Menu and Taskbar?

    The Explorer Favorites are best used for Folder Locations, it’s very handy when you Open or Save files, you can pick the locations from the Explorer Favorites with one click.

  2. AndreasFrom

    @thenonhacker

    It is a Stupid geek trick, nevertheless.

  3. Kevalin

    God! Add ANYTHING to Windows Explorer–and watch it blow up (“Windows Explorer had stopped working…”). I’m still trying to figure out why Explorer ends up with multiple versions of itself running when I have the nerve to open more than one window on my freakin’ desktop. I sure the heck don’t need to further complicate my life.

  4. framplot

    I agree with “thenonhacker” – this really is a stupid tip. It’s being clever for no good reason. Life is too short for rubbish like this. The How-To Geek is one of my favourite news letters. I would prefer to read tips that solve problems or help to improve my use of my computer and the Internet.

  5. john3347

    The more I used Windows 7 the less I used the run around game called “Favorites”. Eventually, I removed “Favorites” altogether and added a couple of items to the Quick Launch bar and my computer runs much smoother. (“Windows key in combination with the Quick Launch icon location beats “Favorites” by a country mile.)

  6. E.W.

    Instead, show me a good trick to finally get rid of Libraries without messing up browsing from Personalization of the Desktop not to mention the Start Menu.

    I don’t use the Navigation Pane in Windows Explorer. I have it unticked. It drives me batty to have a bunch of windows open with each selection at the same time.. and yes, I have ‘use the same window’ ticked in preferences.

  7. Ivydapple

    I just dragged and dropped, but I suppose this works too. :3

  8. dlgn

    Why are you complaining? It’s not supposed to be especially useful, just geeky.

  9. melhimshaker

    this is the most stupid trick I’ve ever wasted my time on it , Please people , make this tricks worth spending our time, Thanks

  10. Steelwells

    Not sure why people think this is stupid – while I don’t use it much from Windows Explorer directly, it populates in the save dialog boxes. THAT is where I find it most useful – especially because several of the locations I save to are nested deeply on networked drives.

    Makes saving things there much easier – I definitely appreciated the tip. Thanks!

  11. Durban

    There should be a limit to stupid.

  12. kim

    Man, tough crowd. :)

  13. Frederic Lalonde

    john3347 doesn’t catch something. I used on vista the favorite links to point to 4 different folders on my enterprise network (internal, customers, masters and some others). I go from one to another hundreds of times everyday. It was very fast and easy, Win-E, a single click on an ALWAYS VISIBLE Favorite links and click on customers, a search on the upper right of the name and then goto in the customer, estimates. click back on Masters, copy an excel and backspace to come back on estimate, CTRL-V. All these within 10 seconds.

    But now, with Windows 7, it’s not always visible, it scrolls with the rest. What a big loss from Vista. If someone has something, I hope Windows Azure will bring back the Favorite Links as a distinct pane, like Vista.

  14. Seasider

    There seem to be a lot of people who do not understand the phrase “Stupid Geeks Tricks”.
    Allow me to enlighten the ignorant.
    “Stupid” is what those who do not understand the phrase are.
    “Geeks” are generally considered to have at least an above average intelligence, so why are you reading this as you obviously do not fit into this category. Perhaps you should stay with Facebook.
    “Tricks” refers to interesting and entertaining manipulation of data that allows you to perform some task a little differently.

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