Fix: Shortcuts not working in Windows 10, 8.1

John Nedelcu By: John Nedelcu
8 minute read

Home » Fix: Shortcuts not working in Windows 10, 8.1

After updating their system, a number of users have reported issues with their Windows 8  or Windows  8.1 shortcuts. Both app shortcuts in Modern UI and in Desktop mode became unresponsive and failed to launch the necessary programs.

Even though Windows 8 / 8.1 offers troubleshooters to deal with these issues, for some systems, these tools were not able to find solutions, resulting in many unhappy customers. Shortcuts in the Windows environment have always presented some kind of issues and it’s no surprise that both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 keep to this trend. But these errors can be fixed, and in this guide, we’ll show you how to do it.

How to fix broken shortcuts in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

We use shortcuts every day to access our favorite applications, but many Windows users reported that shortcuts are not working on their PC. Not being able to use your shortcuts can be a big problem, and in this article we’re going to cover the following issues:

  • Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10 – Not being able to use your desktop shortcuts can be a big problem, and many Windows 10 users reported this issue. However, you should be able to fix that problem using one of our solutions.
  • Desktop icons not working, won’t open, unresponsive – Many users reported that their desktop icons aren’t working. According to them, their icons are unresponsive and they won’t open at all.
  • Shortcuts not responding on desktop – Several users reported that shortcuts on their desktop are not responding. This can be an annoying problem, but out solutions should help you fix it.

If you’re experiencing issues with either your Windows 8 / 8.1 apps (after updating your system) or desktop shortcuts, don’t worry, as there is a simple solution that will fix your shortcuts, allowing them to work properly and you to go about your day without having to deal with broken apps.

Solution 1 – Check Application Shortcuts directory

To fix Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 Modern UI app shortcuts, you will need to open the root folder where they are installed. Navigate to the following path and locate the apps which are causing you issues:

  • C:\Users\Your Account Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts

Note: replace Your Account Name with the name of your local/MS account

In this folder, you will find all the apps you’ve installed on your system, each in a separate folder. You’ll have to locate the apps which no longer work and open their corresponding folder. In it, you will see a shortcut named “App“. Delete the shortcut and do so for all the apps that are not working. After you’ve finished, reboot your system and all should be fine. Your Windows 8 / 8.1 Modern UI app shortcuts should be working as intended.

Desktop shortcuts also have a tendency to stop working, usually due to a broken path to the program executable they should launch. This is due when the corresponding program is updated, uninstalled or moved. If you’ve uninstalled a certain program, then all you’re left is to delete the shortcut as well.


Solution 2 – Remove your antivirus

According to users, problems with your shortcuts can occur due to antivirus software. Users reported this issue with AVG, but other antivirus applications can also cause this problem to appear. To fix the issue, users are suggesting to completely remove your antivirus software.

Uninstalling the software isn’t enough, and if you want to remove all files associated with your antivirus it’s advised to download a dedicated removal tool for your antivirus. Almost all antivirus companies offer this tool for their products, so be sure to download and use one.

Once you remove your antivirus, check if the problem is resolved. Since using your PC without an antivirus isn’t safe, you might want to switch to a different antivirus solution. Currently the best antivirus tools on the market are Bitdefender and BullGuard so feel free to try any of them.


Solution 3 – Recreate the shortcut

On the other hand, if you’ve moved or updated the program and the corresponding shortcut no longer works, you have the option to either create a new one or try and fix the path of your old shortcut. The easiest way (if you ask me) is to navigate to where the software is installed (or moved) and locate the executable file, once you’ve done so, right click on it and select “Create Shortcut“. If you are in a system folder, Explorer will place the shortcut directly on your desktop and you can move anywhere you wish afterwords.

Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10


Solution 4 – Check if the path to the application is correct

If you’re desktop shortcut isn’t working, the problem might be related to its path. This isn’t a serious problem and it can be easily resolved by doing the following:

  1. Locate the problematic shortcut, right click it and choose Properties from the menu.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  2. In the windows which opens, you will see the Target field, under the Shortcut tab where the path to the program exe should be. If the path is not correct, locate the executable for the program and copy the path to this field, being careful to add it in quotation marks (example: “program path”). You can leave the other fields as they were. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Desktop icons won't open

After doing that, your shortcut will start working again. Keep in mind that you need to repeat this solution for all affected shortcuts.


Solution 4 – Leave the Homegroup

Many users tend to use Homegroup to connect two or more PCs in the same network, but sometimes your Homegroup can cause problems with your shortcuts. If your shortcuts are not working, you might be able to fix the problem simply by leaving the Homegroup. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel. To do that quickly, press Windows Key + S and enter control panel. Select Control Panel from the list.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  2. When Control Panel opens, navigate to HomeGroup.
    Desktop icons won't open
  3. Now click on Leave the homegroup.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  4. List of options will now appear, click on Leave the homegroup.
    Desktop icons unresponsive
  5. When the confirmation message appears, click on Finish.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop

After you leave the Homegroup, check if the problem still persists. Couple of users reported that the Homegroup caused this problem to appear, so try leaving your Homegroup and check if that helps.


Solution 5 – Use PowerShell

According to users, you might be able to fix this problem simply by using PowerShell. We have to warn you that PowerShell is an advanced and powerful tool, and by running certain commands you can cause problems with your Windows 10 installation. If shortcuts are not working on your PC, you just need to do the following to fix them:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter powershell. Now right click Windows PowerShell from the list of results and choose Run as administrator from the menu.
    Desktop icons not working
  2. When PowerShell opens, enter Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers |Where-Object {$_.InstallLocation -like “*SystemApps*”} | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”} and press Enter to run it.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop

After running this command, your problem should by completely resolved and your icons will start working again.


Solution 6 – Perform a Clean Boot

Windows relies on various services in order to work properly, but sometimes third-party services and applications can interfere with it and cause this and other errors to occur. If shortcuts are not working on your Windows PC, the problem might be a third-party application or service. To find a problematic application or a service, you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter msconfig. Now press Enter or click OK.
    Desktop icons won't open
  2. System Configuration window will now appear. Navigate to Services tab and check Hide all Microsoft services. Now click on Disable all button to disable all third-party services.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  3. Navigate to the Startup tab and click on Open Task Manager.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  4. When Task Manager opens, you’ll see a list of all startup applications. Right click the first entry on the list and choose Disable from the menu. Repeat this steps for all entries on the list.
    Desktop icons not working
  5. Once you disable all startup applications, go back to System Configuration window and click on Apply and OK.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  6. If asked to restart your PC, choose the option to restart it now.

Once your PC restarts, check if the issue reappears. If not, it means that one of your apps or services was causing it. To find out the problematic application or service, you need to enable all disabled services and apps one by one or in groups. Keep in mind that you need to restart your PC after enabling each set of apps or services.

Once you find the problematic application, you can disable it or remove it from your PC and the problem should be permanently resolved.


Solution 7 – Fix file associations

If shortcuts are not working, it’s most likely that associations for .lnk files are changed. To fix that, you need to make few changes in your registry by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  2. Since we’re going to modify the registry, it might be a good idea to back it up beforehand. To do that, just click on File > Export.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10Set Export range as All and enter the desired file name. Choose a save location and click the Save button.
    Desktop icons unresponsiveIn case anything goes wrong after modifying the registry, simply run this file to revert the changes.
  3. In the left pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.lnk
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  4. Expand the .lnk key and locate UserChoice key. Right click it and choose Delete from the menu.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  5. When the confirmation dialog appears, click on Yes.
    Desktop icons not working
  6. After removing this key, restart your PC and check if the issue reappears.

Few users also reported that you can fix the problem simply by running a .reg file. To do that, simply follow these steps:

  1. Download this zip archive.
  2. Open the archive and run lnk_fix_w10.reg file.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  3. When the confirmation message appears, click on Yes.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10

After doing that, file association for .lnk files should be fixed and your shortcuts should start working again.

Not being able to use your desktop shortcuts can be an annoying problem, but we hope you managed to solve it by using solutions from this article.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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