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Creating Shortcuts

This post from Walter Zackery shows how to create shortcuts using .INF files and RUNDLL:

From: Walter Zackery (
Subject: Creating LNK shortcuts from a batch file without Shortcut.exe 
Newsgroups: alt.msdos.batch
Date: 1999/12/02 

I didn't think that it was possible, but today I finally had a
breakthrough in getting a batch file to programatically create LNK
files (shortcuts). The secret lies in one of the best-kept, most
mysterious secrets in Windows, the INF file. I've always puzzled over
how it is that installation programs manage to create Start Menu
shortcuts, and after a careful examination of the INF file structure,
it finally dawned on me how they do it. If you look at a inf file for
a program that's been installed on your system, you may see a section
that looks something like this:

setup.ini, progman.groups,, "group0=%ShortName%"
setup.ini, group0,, ""%ShortName%""
setup.ini, group0,, """%icon1name%"",""%49002%\jscript5.chm"",,0,"

This may look like jibberish, but that's the sort of syntax that
programmers use in an INF file to create start menu shortcuts. Once
you divine the syntax, you can easily create a start menu shortcut to
any file or folder on your system and then move it from the start menu
to the folder of your choice. That's exactly what the following batch
file does. It takes four parameters, which must all be passed to the
batch file, and in exact order.

Parameter number one must be the complete path of the file or folder
that you're trying to create a shortcut to.

Parameter number two must be the complete path of the folder that you
wish to locate the shortcut in.

Parameter number three is the trickiest. It must be the complete path
to the Programs folder. The Programs folder is the folder that
contains your Start Menu shortcuts. It's normal location is
c:\windows\start menu\programs, or possibly
c:\windows\profiles\xxx\start menu\programs, where xxx is your user
name if you're using profiles. It's possible to obtain the location of
the Programs folder using a batch file, but doing so would more than
double the size of the batch file, so I refrained.

Parameter number four must be the name that you wish to give to the
shortcut. Don't attach the LNK extension to this name, because Windows
will do it for you when it creates the shortcut.

Here's an example command line for the batch file.

link.bat c:\windows\notepad.exe c:\windows\desktop "c:\windows\start
menu\programs" "A Notepad Shortcut"

When the batch file is run with those parameters, it will create a
shortcut with the name "A Notepad Shortcut". The shortcut will point
to c:\windows\notepad.exe, and it will be located in the
c:\windows\desktop  folder. Note that parameters that contain spaces
must be enclosed in quotation marks. This batch file is for Windows
95/98 only. I will post the NT equivalent in the NT newsgroup soon.

@echo off
::A batch file for Windows 95/98 that creates LNK shortcuts.
::Author: Walter Zackery
::December 2,1999
if %4[==[ goto syntax
if not exist %1 if not exist %1\nul goto syntax
for %%? in (%2 %3) do if not exist %%?\nul goto syntax
%5 %0 %1 %2 %3 %4 rem "{newfolder}" InstallHinfSection
echo > %temp%\#path#.bat path %path%
path %1
echo > %temp%\#k#.inf [version]
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf signature="$chicago$"
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf [DefaultInstall]
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf UpdateInis=Addlink
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf [Addlink]
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf setup.ini, progman.groups,, "group0=%6"
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf setup.ini, group0,, ""%6""
echo >>%temp%\#k#.inf setup.ini, group0,,""%4",""%path%"",,0,"
for %%? in (call del) do %%? %temp%\#path#.bat
start/w rundll setupx.dll,%7 DefaultInstall 132 %temp%\#k#.inf
del %temp%\#k#.inf
move "%3\{newfolder}\*.*" %2 > nul
rd "%3\{newfolder}"
goto end
for %%? in (cls echo[) do %%?
echo Four parameters must be passed to the batch file, and they
echo have to be passed in exact order. Do not put backslashes at
echo the end of any parameter that is passed to the batch file.
echo All long filename paths must be enclosed in quotation marks.
echo The first parameter must be the name of the file or folder
echo that you are trying to create a shortcut to.
echo The second parameter must be the location of the folder
echo in which you want to place the created shortcut.
for %%? in (pause cls echo[) do %%?
echo The third parameter must be the location of your Programs
echo folder. The Programs folder is the folder that holds most
echo of your Start Menu shortcuts. It's normal location is
echo C:\windows\start menu\programs. If you are using profiles
echo then its location may be
echo c:\windows\profiles\%%username%%\start menu\programs, where
echo %%username%% is your user name. Note that if you list the
echo wrong location for the Programs folder, then the shortcut
echo will be created, but it will not be moved to the folder
echo that you specified. Instead, it will remain on the Start
echo Menu in a folder named {newfolder}.
echo The fourth parameter must be the name that you want to give
echo to the shortcut. Do not add an extension to the name unless
echo you want the extension to be part of the shortcut's name.


This post was later followed by an NT version.

More information on .INF files and shortcuts can be found in this article by Daniel U. Thibault.


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