Create a Shortcut in Windows Using Winshell or PyWin32

The past couple of days, I’ve needed a way to create a shortcut on a user’s desktop during the login process. I had a way that worked for most shortcuts, but I just could not figure out how to do this one.

Here’s the setup: I required a way to make a shortcut that went to a specific website using a specific web browser. My first try is as follows:

import win32com.client
import winshell

userDesktop = winshell.desktop()
shell = win32com.client.Dispatch('WScript.Shell')

shortcut = shell.CreateShortCut(userDesktop + '\\Zimbra Webmail.lnk')
shortcut.Targetpath = r'C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe'
shortcut.Arguments = ''
shortcut.WorkingDirectory = r'C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox'

The problem with this code is that it creates the following as the Target Path for the shortcut:

“C:\”C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”

We’ll come back to the solution in a moment, but first I’m guessing that some of you may be wondering how I knew where Mozilla would be. Well, at my place of employment, we place Mozilla in a specific place on the hard drive and if one of my login scripts doesn’t detect that location, then the script will automatically reinstall the program. In talking about this subject with the very knowledgeable people on the pywin32 mailing list, they reminded me that I should be getting the location via the registry.

Tim Roberts pointed out this method of discovery:

import _winreg
ffkey = _winreg.OpenKey( _winreg.HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, 'SOFTWARE\\Mozilla\\Mozilla Firefox')
ffver = _winreg.QueryValueEx( ffkey, 'CurrentVersion' )[0]
print ffver
ffmainkey = _winreg.OpenKey( ffkey, sub + "\\Main" )
ffpath = _winreg.QueryValueEx( ffmainkey, 'PathToExe' )[0]
_winreg.CloseKey( ffkey )
_winreg.CloseKey( ffmainkey ) 

Whereas Duncan Booth on pointed out this method:

import _winreg
print _winreg.QueryValue(_winreg.HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,

It turns out there are 3 ways to do this, all of which are related.

  • You can use this recipe, which Gabriel Genellina shared with my on
  • You can add the change my code to include an Arguments parameter or
  • You can use Tim Golden’s winshell module to do it all.

We’ll look at the last two. First, we’ll fix my code. This method of adding an “Arguments” parameter was pointed out to me by Chris at and also by Roger Upole on the pywin32 list. See below:

import win32com.client
import winshell

shortcut = shell.CreateShortCut(userDesktop + '\\MyShortcut.lnk')
shortcut.TargetPath = r'Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe'
shortcut.Arguments = r''
shortcut.WorkingDirectory = r'C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox' 

Finally, Tim Golden pointed out that his winshell module can do what I wanted. He told me that winshell wraps “the IShellLink
functionality” over on the pywin32 list. You can see the results below:

import os
import winshell

winshell.CreateShortcut (
Path=os.path.join (winshell.desktop (), "Zimbra Monkeys.lnk"),
Target=r"c:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe",
Description="Open http://localhost with Firefox",
StartIn=r'C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox'

Now you have a couple of new tools to use in your projects too.

Additional Resources: