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Creating Shell Links (Shortcuts) in .NET Programs Using WSH

, 3 Apr 2003
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It's easy to create shortcuts using the Windows Script Host Object Model

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Introduction

It should be a simple matter to programatically create a shortcut on the desktop that links to a particular file. Unfortunately, as far as I know, the .NET Framework does not support this directly. However, by using the Windows Scripting Host Object Model, it takes only a few lines of code to create a shortcut anywhere within the file system. The purpose of this article is to show how to do this and to provide a class with methods that make it even simpler. The demonstration program uses this class to test for the existence of shortcuts and create or delete them with the click of a checkbox.

Shell Links

A standard feature of the Windows operating system is the ability to create a file that provides a link to any other file within the Windows file system. These so-called "Shortcuts" or "Shell Links" are used in many ways. Examples include the shortcuts that appear as icons on the Windows Desktop, the Start menu, the Quick Launch area within the Task Bar, and the "Send To" menu that appears when right-clicking a file in Explorer. These shortcuts are easy to create manually in the Windows GUI, but within a .NET program they typically require the programmer to use Interop.

Windows Scripting Host

The Windows Scripting Host (WSH) enables a number of file system and network operations to be performed from a script file. Fortunately, it is very simple to directly program the WSH in a .NET program by including a reference to the WSH runtime library (IWshRuntimeLibrary). To do this within the Visual Studio .NET IDE, do the following: after creating a new project, right-click on the project name within the Solution Explorer, select "Add Reference", select the "COM" tab, find and select the "Windows Script Host Object Model" in the listbox, click "Select", and then click "OK". Next, include a reference to the library, for example, within a C# file use the following:

            
  using IWshRuntimeLibrary;

Once this groundwork is done, it is nearly trivial to create a Shell Link. 

Creating a Shell Link

The following code is all that is necessary to create a Shell Link using the Windows Scripting Host.

            
  WshShell shell = new WshShell();
  IWshShortcut link = (IWshShortcut)shell.CreateShortcut(LinkPathName);
  link.TargetPath=TargetPathName;
  link.Save();

The IWshShortcut object has a number of properties that allow the programmer to set things like the target path, the icon, the file name, the arguments, etc. You can explore these within Visual Studio using the Object Browser or Intellisense.

The Link Class

The demonstration program includes a class named Link that encapsulates static methods to test for the presence of a shortcut and to create or delete one if necessary. For example, to test for the presence of a desktop shortcut named "Shell Link", use the following code:

                
  DesktopFolder=Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.DesktopDirectory);
  if(Link.Exists(DesktopFolder, "Shell Link"))DoSomething();
  

 

To create or delete a desktop shortcut named "Shell Link" that points to a file whose path is given by TargetPathName, use the following code:

                
  DesktopFolder=Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.DesktopDirectory);
  Link.Update(DesktopFolder, TargetPathName, "Shell Link", Create);

This will create a link if Create is true and delete it if Create is false. If no change is needed, the code will do nothing.

Conclusion

That's all there is to it! It is simple to incorporate WSH in a .NET program. Creating Shell Links is one good reason to do so. You may find other uses for WSH in your programs such as mapping network drives, setting up printer connections, determining the free space on a disk, or any other tasks that can be automated with the Windows Scripting Host.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Jim Hollenhorst
Researcher
United States United States
Ultrapico Website: http://www.ultrapico.com
 
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Comments and Discussions

 
Questionreference not available in VS 2012 PinprofessionalHusam khiry28-Oct-14 23:52 
AnswerRe: reference not available in VS 2012 PinmemberJim Hollenhorst30-Nov-14 16:11 
QuestionException coming when creating shortcut for remote PDF file PinmemberAarvey17-Jul-13 4:46 
AnswerRe: Exception coming when creating shortcut for remote PDF file PinmemberAarvey18-Jul-13 2:23 
QuestionError Creating a Link Pinmemberarbh8921-Nov-12 5:22 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberAndrewpeter16-Sep-12 18:04 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmemberJim Hollenhorst27-Sep-12 16:45 
QuestionHow to create shortcut without refercene "Windows Script Host"? PinmemberAndrewpeter16-Sep-12 18:04 
AnswerRe: How to create shortcut without refercene "Windows Script Host"? PinmemberJim Hollenhorst27-Sep-12 16:49 
AnswerRe: How to create shortcut without refercene "Windows Script Host"? PinmemberKerem Guemruekcue14-Nov-12 0:43 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmembergeekbond11-Aug-12 23:49 
GeneralMy vote of 4 PinmemberBurak Tunçbilek17-Jun-12 3:24 
QuestionMyShortcut.TargetPath with a space to make a parameter for the target app PinmemberMember 31040542-Feb-10 2:00 
AnswerRe: MyShortcut.TargetPath with a space to make a parameter for the target app PinmemberMember 31040542-Feb-10 2:11 
GeneralGreat Method PinmemberHiteshSharma13-Aug-09 7:47 
GeneralRe: Great Method PinmemberJim Hollenhorst16-Aug-09 11:00 
GeneralRe: Great Method PinmemberHiteshSharma16-Aug-09 11:29 
GeneralRe: Great Method Pinmemberjimpar10-Feb-11 6:53 
GeneralRe: Great Method PinmemberJim Hollenhorst13-Mar-11 16:35 
Thanks for the kind words.
 
Jim
GeneralShortcut but no update Pinmembermrpdude5-Aug-09 18:28 
GeneralShortcut but no update Pinmembermrpdude5-Aug-09 18:27 
GeneralAdding to customer start menu directory PinmemberMember 35762719-Aug-08 14:08 
GeneralRe: Adding to customer start menu directory PinmemberJim Hollenhorst19-Aug-08 17:17 
QuestionAlternate credentials Pinmemberpattarom11-Apr-08 3:07 
GeneralHelp Plz Pinmemberdjsoul12-Mar-08 12:06 
GeneralSpecified cast is not valid Pinmemberlianaent3-Nov-06 11:12 
GeneralAll Users PinmemberGfw9-Sep-06 6:04 
QuestionHow to Read lnk files through WSH using C#.net Pinmembervipinkpr8-Sep-06 3:04 
GeneralProblems on creating shortcuts Pinmembermirceat13-Mar-06 9:05 
GeneralRe: Problems on creating shortcuts PinmemberJim Hollenhorst14-Mar-06 6:51 
GeneralRe: Problems on creating shortcuts Pinmembermirceat14-Mar-06 9:50 
GeneralRe: Problems on creating shortcuts Pinmembermirceat14-Mar-06 9:59 
GeneralRe: Problems on creating shortcuts PinmemberTapas Das17-Aug-07 0:13 
NewsMC++ PinsussAnonymous26-Aug-05 16:03 
GeneralRe: MC++ Pinmemberdborgohain3-Feb-06 10:48 
GeneralRe: MS VC++ .NET PinmemberAlan Hsieh29-Mar-06 12:43 
GeneralOS Pinmemberthiaguera1-Feb-05 2:54 
QuestionCan we use WSH to find highlighted icons on desktop? Pinmemberu999nik1-Oct-04 9:06 
QuestionCan this be done without a DLL being created? PinmemberJordan Bradford20-Sep-04 15:30 
AnswerRe: Can this be done without a DLL being created? PinmemberJim Hollenhorst20-Sep-04 18:29 
AnswerRe: Can this be done without a DLL being created? PinsussAnonymous20-Sep-04 20:30 
GeneralNice, but here is a better way... PinsussAnonymous4-Apr-03 3:31 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... PinmemberJim Hollenhorst4-Apr-03 5:19 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... PinmemberDynamite Jones6-Apr-03 8:16 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... Pinmembermlavenne22-Oct-04 10:29 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... Pinmemberstrabu14-Jul-05 4:27 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... Pinmemberpapadi1-Apr-07 21:55 
GeneralRe: Nice, but here is a better way... [modified] PinmemberRichardCollins222-Oct-07 2:34 

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