Microsoft

How do I copy shortcuts to the All Users folders in Vista or Windows 7?

Alan Norton shows you how to copy shortcuts to the All Users folders in Windows 7 - it is not the same procedure as in Windows XP.
If you are used to copying shortcuts to the Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop or the Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu folders in Windows XP, you might be wondering how to do this in Windows Vista or Windows 7. You may have run across the Users\All Users\Desktop folder and thought that this is where the shortcut should go. But Figure A shows what you will see when you try to open it to view its contents.

Figure A

You will get an Access Is Denied error when you try to open the Users\All Users\Desktop folder in Windows 7 Explorer.

If you look closer at the Desktop folder icon in Figure A, you will see a small arrow in the lower left corner. This signifies a shortcut to a folder. Actually, it is what Microsoft calls a Junction Point. A Junction Point is a way to automatically redirect access requests and provide backward compatibility.

Since the Desktop and Start Menu folders are not actual folders, you get an Access Is Denied error when you try to open them in Windows Explorer.

Note: Junction Points are visible in Windows Explorer only when Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives is selected and Hide Protected Operating System Files is deselected. To change these options, open Windows Explorer and select Organize then Folder and Search Options. Alternatively, press the [Alt] key and select Tools | Folder Options... from the menu. In the Folder Options window, select the View tab. Click to select the Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives radio button under Hidden Files and Folders. Click the Hide Protected Operating System Files check box to deselect it.

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There are two ways you can copy a shortcut to the Desktop or Start Menu folders.

Method One - Copy and paste shortcut to Junction Point

While you cannot open a Junction Point in Explorer to view its contents, you can copy and paste files to it. To do this, copy a shortcut and paste it to the Junction Point in the tree structure in the left pane. You can also click All Users in the left pane to expand it and paste the shortcut to the Junction Point in the right pane, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Copy and paste a shortcut to the Junction Point, Desktop in this example, in the left or right pane.

You will be asked to provide administrator permission. If you are using Vista, you will also be prompted by the UAC.

Figure C

Click Continue to provide administrator permission.

The shortcut will be redirected and saved in the appropriate Vista or Windows 7 destination folder.

Note: You cannot move, delete, or view files from a Junction Point using Explorer. Use method two to perform these functions.

Method Two - Copy to new folder location

Use the table below to find the new folder location for the Desktop and Start Menu folders. Other new folder locations can be found at this Web page.

Table A

Table B

These are the old and new locations for the Desktop and Start Menu folders and the Junction Point location that links them.
Copy the shortcut. Navigate to the new folder in Explorer and paste it, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

You can copy the shortcut directly to the Users\Public\Public Desktop folder.

Just as in method one, you will need to provide administrator permission. If you are using Vista, you will also be prompted by the UAC.

As you can see in Figure D, Users\Public\Public Desktop is where the actual desktop shortcut files now reside in Vista and Windows 7.

Author's Note

Thanks to TechRepublic member Charlie Spencer (Palmetto) for the How do I question.

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About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

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