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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Shortcut and a Detour

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

And now for something completely different.

I get several regular visitors to my sites by way of search engines. That baffles me, because a bookmark/favorite/desktop shortcut is so much more efficient.

It seems that a basic browser detail has been forgotten by many. Now, I assume that most of us know that Control (or Command) + D will add a bookmark (or favorite, the terminology differs with browser makers) into your bookmarks/favorites. Many know that we can modify our settings to have folders for our favorites. (I've gone as far as to tell the browser to show the "bookmarks bar", then add favorites, and folders of favorites, to that.) 

But sometimes, we do not want the bookmark in our browser. In that case, some of us like to save shortcuts to our desktops. In my case, I often want a desktop shortcut because I'll be deleting it soon, such as after using it for reference when composing an article. Internet Explorer ("The number one browser for downloading a better browser"; but let's be fair. After the increasing popularity of Firefox, then Chrome and some of the others, Microsoft did make significant improvements in function and safety for IE), it pretty much has this nailed down with a right-click and select "Create shortcut". For some reason, Mozilla did not see fit to add this shortcut function to Firefox, but there are add-ons like "deskCut" that will do the job quite nicely.

But why didn't Google's Chrome add this function, or allow add-ons? Google is very proprietary, too, and I cannot find a good, fast shortcut maker to add to the browser. Sure, they have an awkward process where you can create an "application shortcut". This is in a Menuland maze, which is annoying enough, but also launches the shortcut in Chrome (even if it's not your default browser) with menu settings at the top clipped off. I don't like that. Also, many people are furious that add-ons from other companies have been disabled by Google. They say it's for our safety. It's interesting that add-ons are only available in the Chrome Store, where people have to pay a fee to make their products available.

Sometimes I use Chrome or Dragon and do not want to switch over to my default browser for the sake of making a shortcut. In my opinion, the fastest way to get a Chrome shortcut is also the oldest way, which seems to have been forgotten by many people. At least, people I showed this to had forgotten it or never even known about it.

"Get on with it, Cowboy Bob!"

Right. I'm using screenshots of Chrome, because that what brought this article on in the first place. The method works with IE, Firefox, Comodo Dragon, Chrome, and probably with most others.

This will not be possible if you have your browser in full screen mode. We want to see empty space in the desktop. I can't tell you what to use on a Mac, but Windows calls it "Restore Down". That is, click on the thing that looks like double boxes so the browser gets smaller. 

You may have to use your mouse pointer, get it to show double arrows <---> , grab sides or corners of the browser to adjust it so that it doesn't take up your entire screen. Here is mine with some of my Windows 7 desktop showing (click for larger): 

From here, you want to find the icon next to the URL in the Address Bar. In this case, a green padlock because the site is secure (https):

Click, hold and drag it off the browser onto the desktop. You should see a shortcut arrow (did not appear in the screenshot) and the name of the site:

Sometimes they get fussy, so if you don't see any sign of shortcut-making activity, release and try again. When it is completely off the browser, you have your desktop shortcut, showing in Firefox because that is my current default browser, like so:

Bonus fun fact: This works in reverse. If you have an existing shortcut and do not wish to double-click on it, you can drag the shortcut onto the browser, release it, and it will toddle off to the site as ordered. 

Although there are several steps involved (resize the browser, drag the icon to the desktop, release, restore the browser to the way you want it), this series of steps is easy to master and the shortcut process ends up taking only a few seconds.