by Anthony 

April 19, 2021

If you use Google Drive regularly for creating and storing your work, you’ll know traversing folders and accessing documents can be quite a slow tedious process navigating each folder requires the page to reload in your browser. That’s why creating desktop shortcuts to your most frequently accessed Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides in Google Drive is one way to speed up the process.

To create a desktop shortcut to a document in Google Drive, open the file in your browser and drag the URL to the desktop. This approach will work for any file in your Google Drive on both PC and Mac.

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In this article, we’ll walk through the steps to create shortcuts to specific documents and folders, as well as a neat trick for creating links to create a blank new Google Doc, Slide, or Sheet with just one click. 

Creating a Desktop Shortcut to a Google Doc Using the Create Shortcut Option

There are two ways you can create a link to specific files in Google Drive. In fact, both the methods we’ll cover in this article can be used to link to any webpage that you wish to create a shortcut for, not just for your Google documents. For the methods discussed in this article to work correctly, you will need to be signed in to your Google account in your browser.

  • Start by opening the Google doc, spreadsheet, or slide presentation in Chrome.
an open google document
  • To link to a folder rather than a file, open the folder in Chrome.
  • Click on the ellipsis icon in the top right corner of the browser.
  • Choose More Tools followed by Create Shortcut.
  • Give your shortcut a name and click Create.
  • The shortcut will appear on your Desktop.

Creating a Desktop Shortcut to a Google Doc Using the Drag and Drop Method

  • Open the Google doc, spreadsheet, or slide presentation in Chrome.
  • Drag the URL of the file or folder you have open to your Desktop.
drag url to the desktop to create a quick shortcut
  • Rename the shortcut to suit your needs.

How To Change A Shortcut Icon

You’ll notice that by default the shortcut you created is given the same icon as the browser you are using. You can change the icon by downloading an alternative from sites such as IconFinder.com. If I browse to iconfinder.com and search for Google, you can download icons for Google Docs and Google Sheets.

On Windows:

  • Download your chosen icons in the ICO file format.
download an ico file from icon finder to replace existing icon
  • Right-click on your shortcut, select Properties and choose Change Icon.
click on change icon in the properties of the shortcut
  • Browse to the ICO file you downloaded from iconfinder.com
click on browse to replace the existing icon with a new downloaded one
  • Click OK, and away you go.

Alternatively, instead of downloading an icon, you can use a pre-installed icon from the choices provided when you click on Change Icon in the Properties window.

use pre-installed icons as alternatives to default icons

On Mac:

  • Find a suitable icon from iconfinder.com
  • Download the icon in the ICNS file type.
download an icns file to replace existing icon on ma
  • Right-click on your shortcut and select Get Info.
  • Click on it so it is highlighted in blue, then drop your replacement icon over the top.
Drag new icon over existing one in Mac to replace it

It’s the same for folders. Open the folder in Googe Drive, drag the URL to the desktop, and change the icon by dropping a replacement over the top of the existing icon in Info.

Creating Desktop Shortcuts for Blank New Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Google recently introduced URLs for creating new files. If you open your browser and type https://doc.new, this will create a new blank Google doc. Again, you need to be signed in to Google for this to work. This format also works for spreadsheets and slide presentations. You would use https://sheet.new to create a blank Spreadsheet and https://slide.new for a Slide presentation.

On Windows:

To create desktop shortcuts to new Google docs, sheets, and slides in Windows, right-click on a blank area of your desktop, choose new shortcut, and type in the URL in the format shown above, for example, https://doc.new. Give your shortcut a name and change the icon if you wish.

context menu displaying how to create a new shortcut

On Mac:

Unlike in Windows, I don’t think it’s possible to manually add URLs to shortcuts on Mac, so I don’t think it possible to create desktop shortcuts to new Google docs, spreadsheets, and slides. Instead, we can add them as favorites to the Address bar of our browser. It’s not as efficient as having the link on your desktop but it still eliminates the need to first load Google Drive. If you wish to try this alternative approach, follow these steps:

  • Type the URL into your browser in the format shown above. For example - https://doc.new.
  • Once the page has finished loading, click on the star icon (Chrome) to the right of the address.
  • Give the new link a name and click on More.
  • Google replaces the URL of new the document with a unique string, so it is necessary to re-enter the original URL of https://doc.new or the alternative for sheets or slides. 
replace the bookmark url to create shortcut to a new google doc

Creating Shortcuts to Google Docs in iOS.

For iOS things are completely different. You can create a Home Screen link to a specific document, by opening the document in Safari, clicking on the Share icon, and choosing Add To Home Screen.

create a home screen link on iOS from the Share options

However, this requires you to use Google Docs through Safari rather than the dedicated Google Docs app, which offers a better user experience and is probably just as quick for accessing your documents. The same is true for creating new Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. You’re much better off downloading the dedicated app from the app store and creating your new documents using the dedicated app.

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