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Create a Desktop shortcut to an Outlook folder

With previous versions of Outlook, I was able to create Desktop shortcuts to Outlook folders simply by dragging a folder out of Outlook and onto my Desktop (or any other folder in Explorer). This allowed me to quickly go to or open Outlook in a specific folder.

When I do this in Outlook 2010, my mouse pointer turns into a blocked shield.

Is it still possible to create Desktop shortcuts to Outlook folders in another way?

These type of shortcuts are xnk-files and support for these was officially dropped with Outlook 2007 but their function could still be revived via a Registry key.

However, you can still create a Desktop shortcut to a specific folder in Outlook by using a command line switch.

Creating the shortcut with a command line switch

The example below shows you how to create a Desktop shortcut to the Calendar folder in Outlook.

  1. Create a new Outlook shortcut:
    • Windows XP
      Right click on the Outlook shortcut and choose:
      Send To-> Desktop (create shortcut)
    • Windows Vista and Windows 7
      Type outlook.exe in the Search field of the Start Menu. Right click on it and choose; Send To-> Desktop (create shortcut)
    • Windows 8
      Creating an Outlook Desktop shortcut is sadly a bit more cumbersome. For instructions see: Creating an Outlook Desktop shortcut in Windows 8
  2. Right-click the shortcut you just created, and from the shortcut menu click Properties.
  3. On the Shortcut tab, locate the Target box. It contains the path for Outlook.exe.
  4. Press the SPACEBAR once to type a space after the path, and then type;
    /select outlook:calendar
    • For Outlook 2007 on a 32-bit version of Windows, the full command should now look like this;
      "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Outlook.exe" /select outlook:calendar
  5. Click OK.
  6. On the desktop, double-click the Outlook shortcut you created.

Creating a custom shortcut with the command line to start Outlook in the Calendar folder. (click on the image to enlarge)
Creating a custom shortcut with the command line to start
Outlook in the Calendar folder (click on the image to enlarge).

How to specify a folder

Specifying a folder quite easy, but there are a couple of things to note:

  • If the folder is in the main mailbox, simply type the name.
    Example: /select outlook:calendar
  • If the folder contains spaces, contain it in quotes.
    Example: /select "outlook:Sent Items"
  • If the folder is a subfolder, separate by a forward slash (/).
    Example: /select outlook:Inbox/Newsletters
  • If the folder is in a different mailbox, you’ll need to precede the folder name with 2 forward slashes and specify the name of that mailbox as shown in the Navigation Pane.
    Example: /select outlook://Archive/Inbox

If you’d want to create a Desktop shortcut to your corporate Public Folders, you can combine the above set of rules in the following way;

  • Outlook 2007 and previous
    /select "outlook://Public Folders/All Public Folders"
  • Outlook 2010  and Outlook 2013
    /select "outlook://Public Folders - Public Folders"

Extra tip:
If you do not want to open the folder in new Outlook window, you can add the /recycle switch as well. The example would then become;

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Outlook.exe" /select outlook:calendar /recycle

Changing the shortcut icon

When you create the Desktop shortcut, it will have the default Outlook icon. You can change the icon to match it with the folder type it points to in the following way;

  1. Right click on the Desktop shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. Select the Shortcut tab.
  3. Press the button: Change Icon…
  4. Select the icon of choice.
  5. Press OK.

For more command line switches to use with Outlook see the guide: How to use command line switches

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