Why don’t the shortcuts I put in the CSIDL_COMMON_FAVORITES folder show up in the Favorites menu?


A customer created some shortcuts in the CSIDL_COMMON_FAVORITES folder, expecting them to appear in the Favorites menu for all users. Instead, they appeared in the Favorites menu for no users. Why isn't CSIDL_COMMON_FAVORITES working?

The CSIDL_COMMON_FAVORITES value was added at the same time as the other CSIDL_COMMON_* values, and its name strongly suggests that its relationship to CSIDL_FAVORITES is the same as the relationship between CSIDL_COMMON_STARTMENU and CSIDL_STARTMENU, or between CSIDL_COMMON_PROGRAMS and CSIDL_PROGRAMS, or between CSIDL_COMMON_DESKTOP­DIRECTORY and CSIDL_DESKTOP­DIRECTORY.

That suggestion is a false one.

In fact, CSIDL_COMMON_FAVORITES is not hooked up to anything. It's another of those vestigial values that got created with the intent of actually doing something but that thing never actually happened. I don't think any version of Internet Explorer ever paid any attention to that folder. Maybe the designers decided that it was a bad idea and cut the feature. Maybe it was an oversight. Whatever the reason, it's just sitting there wasting space.

Sorry for the fake-out.

Exercise: Another customer wanted to know why creating a %ALL­USERS­PROFILE%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch directory and putting shortcuts into it did not result in those shortcuts appearing in every user's Quick Launch bar. Explain.

Comments (25)
  1. Henke37 says:

    This is the sort of "features" developers get bonuses for.

  2. Nick says:

    Taking a stab here…

    Quick launch toolbar is hooked up to only the Quick Launch directory for the current user?

    Quick launch is just a folder toolbar right? AFAIK you can't have a "multi"-folder toolbar… unlike the desktop which can get items from various folders.

  3. alegr1 says:

    As usual, neither documentation nor the include file don't mention anything about non-implementing this feature.

  4. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Clearly those features are sitting somewhere around -90 points or so (a little above the baseline -100, but not nearly enough to make it to 0).

  5. skSdnW says:

    I would pretty much consider this a good thing. There is a certain company (A???e) that likes to create a useless shortcut on the common desktop even when you apply updates etc and if you are not admin there is no way to remove it…

  6. xpclient says:

    Quick Launch was always per-user, it won't automagically turn all users. Neither are the "simplified" pinned shortcuts.

  7. Ian says:

    Yes, definitely a good thing that there is no such thing as 'all user favourites'. A favourite is by definition specific to a particular user, and being unable to remove items that you don't want would be a Bad Thing.

  8. stan says:

    because internet explorer is not the same as explorer

  9. John says:

    @stan:  Well, there's a funny story about that…

  10. Skyborne says:

    @WndSks, no point in calling out a single company.  Pretty much everyone does that by default.

  11. Joshua says:

    @Ian: does that apply to the Start Menu? *nix got it right in this regard. A globally placed start menu item can be removed by any user, and the removal only affects that user. If you think about it you know how it works.

  12. Muzer says:

    Joshua: "*nix got it right in this regard."

    Er, really? The whole of Unix-like OSes got it right? So you're telling me that every single start menu-like implementation in Unix-like OSes does what you say? ;)

    But, no, seriously speaking, I know what you mean (the freedesktop.org spec) – I didn't know about that feature as I've never used a Unix-like OS in a multi-user environment, so how DOES that work (I would completely guess that it just adds it to a list of "blacklisted" icons or something similar, I can't think of any other way it would work).

  13. JJJ says:

    @Muzer:  Everyone gets a symlink to the original, I would guess.  I don't know who is responsible for deleting the target item once all the symlinks are gone, though.

  14. Muzer says:

    I don't like that idea, that implies there must be some script that runs on login creating these symlinks. Then it would need to keep track of which symlinks have been deleted so it knows not to create them again. Before we know it, it's essentially back to the blacklist idea but with much more baggage.

  15. Cesar says:

    @Muzer: it works by creating a per-user .desktop file with Hidden=true. (For Windows people, a .desktop file in this context is sort of similar to a .lnk, only that it has a .ini-like text format. The global menu items use the same format.)

    See standards.freedesktop.org/…/ar01s05.html for that part of the spec.

  16. Matt says:

    @Joshua: Giving standard users full control over what they can see, isn't necessary the "correct" behaviour. Lots of IT departments go to a ton of effort to stop users changing settings that they'll regret.

    The All-user start menu contains items that the IT administrator thinks all users should see. If the IT administrator wanted users to be able to remove it, they'd push out the shortcut to the user's normal start-menu, not the all-users start menu.

    Otherwise the IT helpdesk get phone calls like "Hi – I right clicked on something in the start menu and then my mouse slipped, and now I can't find Microsoft Word anywhere"

  17. Matt says:

    @Raymond:

    Isn't this a good example of an define that Microsoft should remove? If the feature is unimplemented, any use of it in code must be incorrect, and can lead to problems (like your original customer discovered).

    All it's doing by sitting there is taking up bytes on developer machines and taking up cycles during each compilation and bloating up Intellisense with definitions that will cause people trouble if they use them.

  18. Having written a Windows Installer package before, the easiest way to get a shortcut on everyone's desktop by default is to just put it in All Users / common desktop.  There doesn't seem to be a better way of doing this that I know of.  Ideally there might be some kind of per-user "hide this common icon" option, but no such mechanism exists.

    Adding the icon to the current user's desktop when installing just smells wrong since other users then don't get the option of the icon – the install user might be different from the normal user.  And there would also be the problem of roaming profiles (what if software isn't on another computer?), and the problem of new users.

  19. Joshua says:

    @Matt:

    Giving standard users full control over what they can see, isn't necessary the "correct" behaviour. Lots of IT departments go to a ton of effort to stop users changing settings that they'll regret.

    Yeah, and break accessibility or worse in the process. I'm sick of this attitude (by said professionals).

    The All-user start menu contains items that the IT administrator thinks all users should see. If the IT administrator wanted users to be able to remove it, they'd push out the shortcut to the user's normal start-menu, not the all-users start menu.

    Probability of push-out script breaking exceeds 50% once the user begins customizing (in my experience it's more than 90%).

    Otherwise the IT helpdesk get phone calls like "Hi – I right clicked on something in the start menu and then my mouse slipped, and now I can't find Microsoft Word anywhere"

    That's a general usability problem. It shouldn't be possible to accidentally modify the start menu but it is.

  20. Stefan Kanthak says:

    Under NT5.x and earlier, the DIRID 16415 points to %ALLUSERSPROFILE%Favorites.

    Under NT6.x and later, the DIRID 16415 but points to %USERPROFILE%Favorites.

    DIRID: cf. msdn.microsoft.com/…/ff553598.aspx

  21. Veltas says:

    I've always assumed the quick launch was completely personal to a user.  It's a massive change to (especially small) screens to have the Taskbar suddenly get smaller in favour of a few shortcuts, imagine if you couldn't change them?

    As for IT trying to keep a lock on every detail to avoid users 'accidentalying the desktop' I can sympathise, but maybe you should give control of this permanent screen space to the users and avoid putting any important shortcuts anywhere other than the Start Menu or another place that's less invasive?

  22. Neil says:

    Sadly creating a toolbar for a library doesn't quite work; you just get each folder in the library as a separate item…

  23. Jerome says:

    "but maybe you should give control of this permanent screen space to the users and avoid putting any important shortcuts anywhere other than the Start Menu or another place that's less invasive?"

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the average user.

    I once worked in technical support (years ago, before I taught myself programming) and would frequently get calls like "I can't use MS Word! It's not installed! WTF is wrong with you people? Blah blah blah!"

    Then I'd show up at their desk and office was installed; Office shortcuts were in the start menu; *BUT there was no shortcut on the desktop.*

  24. Veltas says:

    "Then I'd show up at their desk and office was installed; Office shortcuts were in the start menu; *BUT there was no shortcut on the desktop.*"

    We can only hope that Windows 8 will resolve these issues!  The window system isn't exactly a trivial concept combined with the Taskbar, Start menu, desktop gadgets & shortcuts, notification area and possibly quick launch (or the Windows 7 equivalent).  I can empathise with users struggling to balance all of the concepts with little computer expertise.

  25. Veltas says:

    Behold, just saw a question and thought of this discussion in the comments.  This is a direct quote:

    "I cannot see the buttons at the bottom where I can open things.  Lots of changes lately.  Cannot see Sykp and more."

    I imagine this is pretty harsh on the user, as I said earlier I'm really hoping Windows 8 fixes this!

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