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 an online email system like Gmail from 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.
Find out below how to make this happen in a few brief clicks of the mouse. This should work for Windows 10 and all earlier versions. We’re using Gmail as it’s a common example, but this will work if you are using Outlook online, as well.
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 either ‘Add to desktop’ or ‘Create application shortcuts’. Just click on that option and follow the quick instructions in there.
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.
- Go to your Gmail inbox using your browser of choice
- Copy the text that is in the address bar (see below if you don’t know what that is)
- Go to the desktop and right-click, then choose New>Shortcut
- Paste the webpage address you copied into the ‘Create Shortcut‘ dialogue. Click ‘next’
- Type a name for the shortcut. ‘Gmail’ is the obvious one. Click ‘Finish’.
- 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.
- The shortcut is now on your desktop. Leave it there, or we suggest drag it to the taskbar (the taskbar is the row of icons at the bottom of the screen that are always there) or start menu, 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’.
- (Optional) For earlier Windows versions, the quick launch bar is the best place to keep icons you want to use regularly. In Windows 7 onwards it’s less useful. The taskbar does a similar job anyway, and so in Windows 7, 8 and 10, 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 unless you’re using an old version of Windows 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/putting-gmail-shortcut-desktop/
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. It’s called gmail-icon.ico. 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.
- 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.
- Right-click on the new shortcut you made earlier and choose Properties>Change icon
- Choose ‘Browse…‘ and navigate to where you saved the gmail-icon.ico file
- 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? Or make a shortcut to Outlook instead.
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 prefer to use Microsoft Outlook, this will work too. if you are using the online version (Office 365). Just follow the above instructions, using your Outlook email inbox page instead of Gmail. We’ve even found you a free Outlook icon you can download here.
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!