1.3 Overview

The Shell Link Binary File Format specifies a structure called a shell link. That structure is used to store a reference to a location in a link target namespace, which is referred to as a link target. The most important component of a link target namespace is a link target in the form of an item ID list (IDList).

The shell link structure stores various information that is useful to end users, including:

  • A keyboard shortcut that can be used to launch an application.

  • A descriptive comment.

  • Settings that control application behavior.

  • Optional data stored in extra data sections.

Optional data can include a property store that contains an extensible set of properties in the format that is described in [MS-PROPSTORE].

The Shell Link Binary File Format can be managed using a COM object, programmed using the IShellLink interface, and saved into its persistence format using the IPersistStream or IPersistFile interface. It is most common for shell links to be stored in a file with the .LNK file extension. By using the IPersistStream interface, a shell link can be saved into another storage system, for example a database or the registry, or embedded in another file format. For more information, see [MSDN-ISHELLLINK].

Multi-byte data values in the Shell Link Binary File Format are stored in little-endian format.