Desktop shortcuts not working / Problem with shortcut [FIX]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Users report that after updating to Windows 10 their app shortcuts stopped working properly.
  • We will show you in this article what steps you can do in order to solve this issue, so keep reading.
  • Don't forget to bookmark our Antivirus Hub for more helpful guides and news.
  • Check out our dedicated Fix section for more related information.
Fix: Shortcuts not working in Windows 10

After updating their system, a number of users have reported problems with shortcuts on Windows 10.

Both app shortcuts in Modern UI and in Desktop mode became unresponsive and failed to launch the necessary programs.

If your Windows 10 shortcuts are not working, this can cause a lot of issues, considering that you won’t be able to access the specific software easily, thus wasting valuable time.

Even though Windows 10 offers troubleshooters to deal with these issues, for some systems, these tools were not able to find solutions, resulting in many unhappy customers.

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.
  • Desktop icons not working, won’t open, unresponsive.
  • Shortcuts not responding on desktop.

These errors can be easily fixed, and in this guide, we’ll show you how to do it.

How can I fix broken shortcuts in Windows 10?

1. Remove your antivirus

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It can happen that this problems with your shortcuts occur due to the antivirus software you are using. To fix the issue, we are suggesting to use another antivirus, such as Bitdefender.

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Moreover, this antivirus has the lowest number of false-positive alerts, compared to other software.

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2. Check Application Shortcuts directory

  1. Open the root folder where the Modern UI app are installed.
  2. 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
  3. In this folder, you will find all the apps you’ve installed on your system, each in a separate folder.
  4. Locate the apps which no longer work and open their corresponding folder.
  5. In it, you will see a shortcut named App.
  6. Delete the shortcut and do so for all the apps that are not working.
  7. After you’ve finished, reboot your system and all should be fine.

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


3. Recreate the shortcut

Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10

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 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.


4. Check if the path to the application is correct

  1. Locate the problematic shortcut, right-click it, and choose Properties.
    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.
  3. 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).
  4. Click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Desktop icons won't open

5. Leave the Homegroup

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter control panel.
  2. Select Control Panel from the list.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  3. Next, navigate to HomeGroup.
    Desktop icons won't open
  4. Now click on Leave the homegroup.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  5. Click on Leave the homegroup.
    Desktop icons unresponsive
  6. When the confirmation message appears, click on Finish.

6. Use PowerShell

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter powershell.
  2. Now right click Windows PowerShell and choose Run as administrator.
    Desktop icons not working
  3. When PowerShell opens, enter the following command and press Enter to run it:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers |Where-Object {$_.InstallLocation -like "*SystemApps*"} | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

Shortcuts not responding on desktop


7. Perform a Clean Boot

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

8. Fix file associations

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit.
  2. Press Enter or click OK.
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  3. 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 and select Export.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  4. Set Export range as All and enter the desired file name.
  5. Choose a save location and click the Save button.
    Desktop icons unresponsiveNote: In case anything goes wrong after modifying the registry, simply run this file to revert the changes.
  6. In the left pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.lnk
    Shortcuts not responding on desktop
  7. Expand the .lnk key and locate UserChoice key.
  8. Right-click it and choose Delete from the menu.
    Desktop shortcuts not working Windows 10
  9. When the confirmation dialog appears, click on Yes.
    Desktop icons not working
  10. After removing this key, restart your PC and check if the issue reappears.

You can also fix the problem simply by running a .reg file:

  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
  4. 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.

If you have further suggestions or recommendations, please let us know in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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