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

By Kevin Lee

Work efficiently by deleting unnecessary desktop folders.
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Although Windows warns you when you try to delete a folder, it's wise to ensure that the folder you're deleting isn't an important one. Your Windows desktop may consist of a mixture of real folders and shortcut files designated by the ".lnk" extension. A shortcut is a tiny file that points to an actual file or folder that resides on your hard drive. While it's safe to delete a shortcut, you should verify the folder you're about to delete is not a real folder before sending it to the Recycle Bin.

Press the "Windows" key and "D" to display your desktop.

Find a folder on the desktop that you would like to delete and observe its icon. If the folder is a shortcut to a real folder, you'll see a small blue arrow in the icon's lower-left corner. All shortcuts display this icon. You may also see the word "Shortcut" as part of the icon's name. That word may not always appear because people have the ability to rename icons.

Right-click the icon and select "Properties." The Properties dialog window opens. Click the "General" tab and review the text in the "Type of File" section. If the icon is a shortcut, you'll see Shortcut (.lnk) in that section.

Review the value in the Location section. This value is the path to the folder to which the shortcut points. For instance, if it points to a folder named "Printers" on your C drive, you'll see C:\Printers in the Location section.

Click "OK" to close the dialog window and return to the desktop. Right-click the icon and select "Delete" if the icon is a shortcut and you'd like to delete it. If the icon is not a shortcut, do not delete the icon if you do not want to delete the folder.


If you'd like to remove a real folder from your desktop, move it to a new location. Do that by pressing "Windows" and "E" to launch File Explorer and double-clicking your Desktop folder to open it. The Desktop folder will display all the sub-folders that you see when you view your desktop. Find the folder you'd like to move from the desktop, right-click it and select "Cut." Double-click the destination folder to open it, right-click an empty area in it and select "Paste." Windows moves the folder from your desktop to the destination folder.