Win7: Dragging a “Normal” Internet Shortcut

I have been a hardcore Firefox user since at least 2005. But I still use Internet Explorer from time to time. For example, because my netbook has limited CPU and RAM, I usually close Firefox (and its 6-15 open tabs) when I’m not using it. If I want a web browser to check one thing really quickly, I’ll typically just use Internet Explorer rather than wait for Firefox to open and load all those tabs.

Because I mostly use Firefox, if I happen to be using IE for whatever reason and see something I want to bookmark, I’ll usually just drag the favicon from the IE address bar to the desktop. This has traditionally created a standard desktop shortcut that’ll open in the user’s default browser. I can click on the shortcut later to open the link in Firefox, or drag the shortcut to my Dropbox folder so I can use it on my desktop machine or Android phone.

Web Shortcut

But then Microsoft went and screwed this up. In Windows 7, Microsoft changed this behavior so that if you drag an icon from the IE address bar to the desktop you create a “pinned shortcut” instead, one that only opens in IE… which is a nifty feature if you’re an IE user. But what if you want to create a good, old-fashioned shortcut that opens in the default browser?

You have two options.

The first is to hold down the SHIFT key as you drag and drop. This will create a “normal” shortcut that will open in Firefox, Chrome or whatever your default browser is.

The second is to drag and drop as usual, but then change the shortcut’s extension from .website to .url. Unfortunately, there’s no way (that I can see) to do this from the Windows UI. So you’ll have to break out the command-line and type something like

ren *.website *.url

at the desktop (or wherever you saved the .website shortcut). You can also, of course, do this with any existing pinned shortcuts, too.

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