How to Add an Icon to the Desktop

Level of difficulty: Beginner

In computer terms, an icon is a graphical representation of files, programs, folders, devices, or Web links supported by the underlying Operating System platform. Computer icons were introduced in 1970 as part of the research efforts of Xerox which later on became a primary component of GUI-based computing environments initially introduced by Apple Macintosh and the Microsoft Windows platforms. In modern computer systems, an icon can be found in almost every aspect, from the desktop, toolbars, and menus among others to support the developer’s attempt to provide a user-friendly environment. Every icon may contain its own set of unifying feature which allows for the grouping of similar or related icons.

Materials Needed:
- Computer
- GUI-based Operating System
Step 1
Every computing environment handles the creation or addition of desktop icons differently. For the Linux Operating System, proceed to Step 5. Mac OS-based machines create desktop icons based on the method outlined on Step 12. Under the Microsoft Windows Operating System platform, right click on the 'Start' button and choose 'Explore'.
Step 2
From the newly opened window, locate the file, application, or folder that will be added to the desktop.
Step 3
Right click on its icon and choose the 'Send To' option from the context menu.
Step 4
From the dropdown context menu, click on the 'Desktop' (create shortcut) option which will automatically place a corresponding icon on the user’s desktop.
Step 5
In Linux, a desktop icon can be created from the 'KDE' menu. Simply click on the 'K' menu and locate the icon that will be included into the desktop.
Step 6
Right click on the chosen icon and select the 'Add Item to Desktop' option which will place a copy on the desktop.
Step 7
An alternative for Linux-based machines is to right click on any blank area of the KDE desktop which will display the menu options.
Step 8
Select the 'Create New' and choose the 'Link to Application' option which opens its Properties box.
Step 9
Click on the 'General' tab and change the 'Link to Application' text with the name that describes the icon representation.
Step 10
Select the 'Application' tab and accomplish the Description, Command, and Comment fields relevant to the program of the icon. The 'Command' field should contain the text as it would appear when launching the program from the command line.
Step 11
The icon can be modified from the 'General' tab. When everything is done, save all changes by clicking on the 'OK' button which creates the desktop icon.
Step 12
From the 'Finder' tool of the Mac OS X, double click the hard drive icon and go to the 'Menu Extras' folder found in the 'CoreServices' menu by clicking on the 'System' Menu and choosing the 'Library' option.
Step 13
The 'Menu Extras' folder contains different files that normally use the 'MENU' file extension. Double clicking on these files will cause the appearance of associated icons on the Menu Bar.
Step 14
Pressing the 'Command' key while simultaneously clicking on the icon allows the user to position the icon on any place in the Menu Bar.


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