The Windows Shell offers a facility – properly called a Shell Link but most commonly referred to as a shortcut – to link to a shell item, most commonly a file. This is not the same as a hardlink or a symlink, bot of which are implemented in an underlying file system. Shortcuts are Shell objects which only behave differently when accessed via a Shell interface (most commonly Windows Explorer) and can refer to non-filesystem shell objects such as printers and networks.

Shortcuts are managed by means of a Shortcut class. This is returned from the shortcut() factory function which can be called with the path to a shortcut file (typically ending in .lnk) which may or may not already exist, or with the path to a target file. If the shortcut already exists, the corresponding attributes will be populated inside the shortcut object.


Returns a Shortcut object representing a shell link

Parameters:path_or_object – this is either an existing Shortcut object, in which case it is returned unaltered, or the path to a file which may or may not exist. If the path refers to an existing shortcut, the returned object will represent that shortcut; otherwise, the returned object will represent a shortcut to that path.
Returns:a Shortcut object
class winshell.Shortcut

An object which represents a shell link on the filesystem. The shell link may or may not already exist. The object acts as its own context manager, allowing an existing shortcut to be modified in-place, or a new one created:

import os, sys
import winshell

link_filepath = os.path.join(winshell.desktop(), "python.lnk")
with winshell.shortcut(link_filepath) as link:
  link.path = sys.executable
  link.description = "Shortcut to python"
  link.arguments = "-m winshell"

The object has the following attributes. For the shortcut to make any sense, you must set Shortcut.path. In addition, Shortcut.lnk_filepath must either be set explicitly by assigning it a filepath or implicitly as the source of the Shortcut object or via the Shortcut.write() method.


The location of the shortcut (the .lnk file) on the filesystem


The target of the shortcut


The arguments, if any, to the executable which this shortcut represents, if any

A long description for this shortcut, not immediately visible to the user
can be used for storing arbitrary data).

The hotkey for this shortcuts .. TODO


A two-tuple representing the file containing the icon and the position of the icon within that file’s icon resources.


One of: “normal” (the default), “min” and “max”


The directory which should be made active before the shortcut’s target is executed.

The object has the following methods:


Write to sys.stdout a summary of the shortcut’s attributes offset by (level * 2) spaces


Return a string representing a summary of the shortcut’s attributes offset by (level * 2) spaces


Create or update the underlying shell link to disk. If filepath is given, the link is created there; otherwise, the shortcut’s original location is used. If the object was not created from a shortcut and has no location, an x_shell exception is raised.

For backwards compatibility, the following function is exposed:

winshell.CreateShortcut(Path, Target, Arguments="", StartIn="", Icon=("", 0), Description="")

Create a shortcut

  • Path – As what file should the shortcut be created?
  • Target – What command should the desktop use?
  • Arguments – What arguments should be supplied to the command?
  • StartIn – What folder should the command start in?
  • Icon – (filename, index) What icon should be used for the shortcut?
  • Description – What description should the shortcut be given?


  Path=os.path.join(desktop(), "PythonI.lnk"),
  Icon=(r"c:\python\python.exe", 0),
  Description="Python Interpreter"

but new code should use the shortcut() factory function and a with-block to update or create a shortcut:

desktop = winshell.desktop()
with winshell.shortcut(os.path.join(desktop, "PythonI.lnk")) as shortcut:
  shortcut.path = sys.executable
  shortcut.icon = sys.executable, 0
  shortcut.description = "Python Interpreter"


See also

Managing shortcuts
Cookbook examples of using shortcuts
Shell Links Overview
Shell Links on MSDN