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How to put a Gmail shortcut on the desktop and icon on the taskbar or quick launch toolbar

Let's assume you're using Windows, and, like us monkeys at Pinkeye Graphics, you also use Gmail for email. If so, you might well want to have a convenient shortcut to Gmail on your desktop - you know, just like the one that used to go to Outlook Express, all those years ago? In fact, for those changing over to Gmail from Outlook, Windows Mail or a similar desktop POP email client, having an email icon in the quick launch bar is a nice bit of comfort. Even if it just opens up a browser it still retains some of that offline look and feel which is reassuring and easy to use.

By clicknathan.com

Find out below how to make this happen in a few brief clicks of the mouse.

Follow up:

If you don't know which browser you are using, find out at the "What browser am I using?" website.

First of all, if you're using the Chrome browser, it's almost all done for you. Just go to the Gmail home page, then choose 'More Tools' from Chrome's drop-down menu. In the tools menu you'll see 'Create application shortcuts'. Just follow the instructions in there. Or install the Google Apps launcher which is easier still - although it does give you a different-looking icon.

If you're not using Chrome, don't worry! It's still easy. There are two stages, and you don't even have to do the second one if you don't want to. Here's the first.

Making a shortcut to Gmail

You can put a shortcut to any webpage on your desktop or quick launch bar, so Gmail, being just a webpage, is a doddle. This will work with any website at all, but we're using Gmail as an example.

  1. 1. Go to your Google inbox using your browser of choice
  2. 2. Copy the text that is in the address bar (see below if you don't know what that is)
  3. 3. Go to the desktop and right-click, then choose New>Shortcut
  4. 4. Paste the webpage address you copied into the 'Create Shortcut' dialogue. Click 'next'
  5. 5. Type a name for the shortcut. 'Gmail' is the obvious one. Click 'Finish'.
  6. 6. Test your new shortcut and make sure it works. A window or tab should open showing Gmail. If not, delete it and have another try.
  7. 7. The shortcut is now on your desktop. Leave it there, or we suggest drag it to the taskbar or quick launch toolbar, and that's where it will stay. Or if your version of Windows supports it, you can sometimes just right click on the icon and get the option to 'Pin to taskbar' or 'Pin to start menu'.  For earlier Windows versions, the quick launch bar is the best place to keep icons you want to use regularly. In Windows 7 and 8 it's less useful. The taskbar does a similar job anyway, and so  in Windows 7 and 8, the quick launch bar isn't turned on by default although it's still available. So if you want to use it, first you'll need to turn it on. But it's probably not worth the bother.


What's the address bar? It's the box at the top of the browser window that has the address of the webpage you are looking it. For this post, for example, it will read something like pinkeyegraphics.co.uk/blog/index.php/2009/

If you can't find that or it doesn't work, just type "http://mail.google.com" into the 'Create Shortcut' dialogue instead.

That's the basic bit done. It will now work, and if you don't care how it looks stop now.

Customise your new shortcut

But there's more! Still want more? OK, here's the second part. You'll notice that the icon is not the nice Gmail icon that you usually see. So you'll want to change that. Here's a file to download: Gmail icon file. If you know how to do that, go ahead. If not, follow these instructions (it's the same file, so you only need to do one). To download the file right-click on the icon file. In Internet Explorer, chose 'Save target as'; or in Chrome or Firefox 'Save link as'. Other browsers have similar options. Once you've downloaded the file, this is how to use it.

  1. 1. Save the gmail1.ico file on your computer. Anywhere is fine but a good place is C:/windows/system32 on many Windows systems, as that's where a lot of other icon files live. You probably shouldn't save it to the desktop as although it will work, you might mistake the icon file for your new shortcut, because they will look the same. The icon file's got a version of the icon for Gmail in it.
  2. 2. Right-click on the new shortcut you made earlier and choose Properties>Change icon
  3. 3. Choose 'Browse...' and navigate to where you saved the gmail1.ico file
  4. 4. Select the file and you should see the icon. Choose it! Click OK and then OK again.

 Your icon now has a real authentic Gmail look.

Why stop there?

Ok, so if you got that working you can do some more. Why not make a shortcut to Facebook on your desktop? Or Twitter? Or your local newspaper? The first steps above will work for any website, so go ahead and try it.

If you want to change the look of your new shortcuts, you will need to download icons that look good though, as otherwise all the shortcuts will look the same. It's not hard to find them though, just use Google!

Good luck!

 Published: 29th January 2009 by Matt.
Categories: From the Engine Room, How to


Comment from: Dar

Great help! And you did not make me feel like a techno-dinosaur at all! Thanks so much.

8th September, 2015
Comment from: khanaish

Nice. ….

3rd July, 2015
Comment from: nico

Gud staff

24th February, 2015
Comment from: Syretta Scott

Very helpful. Thanks so much.

16th February, 2015
Comment from: marnie mitchell

Thank you for a simple step by step explanation that worked

30th January, 2015
Comment from: Hank Sprong

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Finally found what I was looking for.
My last hard drive crashed and there were no survivors.
I tried digital CPR and disc to disc resuscitation but no luck.
Installed a new hybrid drive and, wow! super speed.
But after reinstalling my software I noticed my Gmail icon missing.
Went to Google to find a cure.
Sure thing, no problem, just install this and that client program and all will be alright. Hey, hello, I just wanted a simple icon on my desktop that linked me to Gmail. Been looking and looking and finally found the answer to my prayers on your site.
Simple and clear instructions that really work and thank for that great icon. Great tips and great advice, thank you very much.
Like meeting a sexy girl scout leader in the woods, this made me a happy camper.

17th January, 2015
Comment from: Fred Roven  

After reading many instructions on creating desktop shortcut for Gmail, yours was the only one quick, easy and actually worked.

18th December, 2014
Comment from: Susan

Thanks, easy and helpful tip. Far easier than chrome forums, Prettier too.

7th October, 2014
Comment from: Charles Shelton

I have not been able to get my gmail icon to come up.

15th March, 2014
Comment from: Lew

Make your own icon. Download and install Irfanview-very useful free program. Find a picture you ant to make into an icon, favorite cat, dog, person, car etc. Open it in Irfanview and save as .ico aka an icon. and use that for your shortcut icon.

Pinkeye responds: or dont. Use the one we’ve already made, link in article. Which is kinda the idea.

15th July, 2013
Comment from: Alek Cover

Everything works but when I change the icon, all it is is an Internet Explorer icon, I have Firefox too? Any help?

Pinkeye respond: you did save your gmail1.ico file to somewhere that wasn’t the desktop, didn’t you? Because if you left it on the desktop that’s what it could look like.

25th June, 2013
Comment from: OMJ

Thanks for these simple and effective instructions!

19th June, 2013
Comment from: Kismic

Thank you for your very useful and succinct instructions! Works beautiful.

31st January, 2013
Comment from: Sweet  

I followed the instructions above for putting the gmail shortcut on my desktop. However, it did not work. When I double clicked on the new icon it gave me this message: “This file does not have a program associated with it to perform this action. Create one in Folder Options in the Control Panel". Any step by step instructions from anyone? Thanks a bunch.

Matt responds: there are a number of reasons for getting that error, but probably you’re clicking on the icon file itself rather than the shortcut. Just delete the new icon you made and try again from the beginning. Make sure you don’t save the icon file to the desktop - the step by step instructions are in the article above.

26th September, 2012
Comment from: Lou

Thank you very much for info.

4th July, 2012
Comment from: Ruth

Great directions and what I wanted on the taskbar.
Thank you!

26th March, 2012
Comment from: PK Moy

Awesome, thank you!

20th February, 2012
Comment from: Kevin the wise.  

THANKS! i knew how 2 put it on the desktop, but didn’t know how 2 change the pic.

18th January, 2012
Comment from: Dee

Wunderbar! Just had to reformat the hard drive, and lost EVERYTHING, this tute was a warm fuzzy!

16th November, 2011
Comment from: s rajan kochhar

Great !! thanks ,,, :-) .. it works fine .. one can try this ..

20th June, 2011
Comment from: Carmela

Thank you so much! It was very helpful and easy to follow! I really appreciat it =).

7th June, 2011
Comment from: Brenda Harrison

Bless you for creating this fab how-to!! It was driving me absolutely NUTS not to have the GMAIL icon.

27th March, 2011
Comment from: GSW

Finally! Someone with clear, precise instructions! Thanks!

12th January, 2011
Comment from: sylvan

Nice work pinkeye but the larger icon is too blurry. I made one on my editor that is much clearer and nicer to me. But it won’t let me use mine!

2nd December, 2010
Comment from: mikica  

Yes, that thing with shorcut is new thing/feature that it was introduced ad standalone aplication, ad it is not just schortcut, and it is not, but it looks like it, so many users where disapointed with this widget , I hope this helps :)

16th October, 2010
Comment from: Rohan

Good - I can now launch Gmail from my desktop but I can’t change the icon. The dialogue on Firefox isn’t quite the same as you have written it and in browsing/navigating to Windows/System32, I can only “open” but not “save” the icon. Your icon is allegedly saved in Windows Photo Gallery (by default) but I can’t see it even when I select “see all". Any ideas? thanks and kind regards - Rohan

15th October, 2010
Comment from: visitor ;)

Hi i was wondering how you can get the shortcut in to the bottom toolbar in your desktop.
my friend has it but she moved away recentlyy so i dont know how to do it :\
please help
p.s i dont wish to be emailed anything thanks

Matt replies: just drag it from your desktop to the quick launch bar. It should stay there.

29th August, 2010
Comment from: Alan

Thank you, Sarah. That was a quick and easy solution. You get 4 stars
from me. After suffering many attempts to get a gmail shortcut icon on my desktop, your suggestion
worked well.

3rd March, 2010
Comment from: Sarah

Use Chrome, click the create application shortcut from the page menu. It’s even easier.

24th June, 2009
Comment from: TED STEINBERG

Thanks for getting my gmail icon looking snazzy!

I wonder why Firefox doesn’t have an add-on that lets a user select icons - which crate a macro and set this up as you suggested. Perhaps, they have a relationship with Yahoo, and that would be contrary to Google.


13th April, 2009

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Pinkeye Graphics Limited is a small and lively company which specialises in producing the distinctive collaborative design work of Matthew Chatfield and Cat James. Here's the blog where they publish news about Pinkeye Graphics as well as other matters which they feel worthy of drawing to your attention.