How to Add App Shortcuts to Windows Desktop Context Menu

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Context menu on the Windows desktopWindows context menus constantly change depending on where you're using them. On a desktop, the context menu has a standard format with subtle differences across different versions of Windows. And, within applications, we may have an entirely different and highly customized context menu. Today, we're going to learn how we can add custom application shortcuts to the standard desktop context menu we activate through a right-click of the mouse. It's a simple and easy-to-follow process that enables you to add just about any application provided you know its exact folder location on the hard disk drive.

Context menu on the Windows desktop
Although there's no limit on the number of such shortcuts one can add to the context menu, I'll recommend keeping them to absolute essentials as it kind of clogs it, if done aggressively.

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So, let's get started and learn how we can add accessible shortcuts within the desktop context menu on a Windows PC. Although it's a safe process, I'll still recommend creating a restore point before doing so.

First of all, open the Windows search box by pressing the Windows + S key. Thereafter, type Registery editor in the search text field.

Registry editor option in Windows search result
It'll present you with the Registry Editor option (as shown above) in the search result. Click it to open the registry editor.

Now go to the Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell path within the registry editor.

Registry path in the registry editor
Once you reach here, it's time to create a new key under the shell key. Right-click on the shell key and click the New > Key option as shown below.

Option to add new key in registry editor
For demo purposes, I'll add the Firefox web browser shortcut option in the context menu. After selecting the option mentioned above, you'll get a text field. Type in the name of the application you want to add.

Typing new key name in the registry editor
Now, right-click on the right-side pane and click the New > String Value option.

Option to add a string value in the registry key
Type in Icon in the text field and save it. This string data is added to the Firefox key to provide a path to the icon that'll be displayed in the context menu along with the shortcut.

Create icon data field within a registry key
The next step is to find the directory path where the executable file of the application you're adding to the context menu resides. In my case, it's the Firefox web browser.

Directory of the Firefox web browser executable file
Right-click on the address bar and click the Copy address option. It'll push the directory path to the clipboard. The directory path doesn't contain the application's executable file. We add it manually.

For example, the path I copied was C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox.

After I added the Firefox main executable to it, the path became C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe.

Icon path entry in registry key
Double-click on the icon entry created earlier and paste the path you've created for your application. In my example, I've pasted the path to the executable file of Firefox.

Tip: The addition of icon entry is optional. If you do not care for an icon in the context menu, you can skip this icon configuration step, altogether.


Now, in the left pane, right-click on the Firefox key created earlier and once again go for the New > Key option as shown below.

command key in registry editor
Type in the name command for this new sub-key created under the Firefox entry.

Adding shell command key data in registry
The next step involves double-clicking the Default entry in the right pane for the command subkey and thereafter pasting in the path to the executable of your application key.

Press the OK button to complete the process.

Firefox shortcut in Windows context menu
And, there you have it! You can see, there's a Firefox option in the context menu with an icon to its left.

Delete key in registry editor
In case, you do not want the option in the context menu you've added earlier, simply right-click on the application's key and select the Delete option. It'll remove its entry from the desktop context menu.

This way, you can freely add or delete multiple application shortcuts from the desktop context menu.