How to Delete a Shortcut on the Desktop Without Deleting the Folder

Shortcuts are a convenient solution for quick access to folders you use frequently, but if you’ve gone overboard or installed a lot of new programs recently, your desktop can quickly become cluttered. Fortunately, you can remove shortcuts easily without removing the original folder or program linked to it. Deleting them is like deleting anything else on your computer in most cases. Even if you run into issues, using admin privileges will likely enable you to delete the file.

Shortcut Basics

The key reason that deleting a shortcut won’t delete the folder is that the shortcut icon is not the folder. It’s a redirect for your click to save you time, like a signpost that tells your computer where you mean to go when you click on it. If you remove the signpost, you don’t remove the destination – it might just take a bit more work to find it.

You can recognize a shortcut from the icon, which contains a small arrow in a box in the corner to show that it’s a shortcut. It is possible to change the shortcut arrow icon in Windows 10 and other versions by editing the registry explains How-To Geek, but unless you’ve already done this, you will have the default symbol. Your files are never saved directly to your desktop unless you intentionally download them there.

Deleting a Shortcut on Windows

With this in mind, deleting a shortcut is as simple as deleting anything else from your computer, as described by Computer Hope. First, highlight the icon you want to remove by clicking on it. From here, you can either press “Delete,” right-click the icon and choose “Delete” from the options that appear, or click and drag the icon to your recycle bin. These approaches work equally well for both folder and program shortcuts, so you can use whichever one feels most natural.

If you can’t delete a shortcut from your desktop in Windows 10, it might be because the program was created with administrator privileges, and you can only delete it as an admin. Log in as an admin, and you’ll be able to delete it using the same method as above.

Deleting a Standard Windows Shortcut

Shortcuts on Windows for things like “This PC,” “Network” and “Recycle Bin” are added in a different way than most icons, as Digital Citizen details. Right-click an empty space on your desktop and go to “Personalize” and choose “Themes” from the options on the left of the window. Scroll down on this tab and click the option that says “Desktop icon settings.”

This action takes you to “Desktop Icon Settings,” which has a list of the main standard Windows shortcuts with checkboxes at the side. Check or uncheck any of the options to add or delete the icon corresponding to them. If you already have the icon on your desktop, you can use the approaches listed above to remove them too.

Deleting a Shortcut on Mac

Deleting a shortcut on Mac works like using the click-and-drag method on Windows, as explained by VisiHow. Hover over the icon you want to remove, click on it, hold the button down (or keep your finger on the touchpad), and then drag the icon to the bottom of the screen, releasing it over the “Trash” icon.

If your other Mac desktop icons are invisible, this is likely because they’re not set to be displayed, according to TeachThought. Go to “Finder” and then “Preferences,” and you’ll be presented with a list under “Show these items on the desktop.” Check the options – hard discs or external discs, for example – to display on the desktop or uncheck them to remove them from the desktop.