Application and Desktop Shortcuts in Citrix

Last Updated on August 16, 2021

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix provide a convenient way to access all subscribed applications and desktops from Start menu and/or Desktop of the client device without opening Citrix Workspace app/Receiver or Receiver for Web sites (RfW). With ease comes complexity that’s why it is critical to maintain and manage those shortcuts properly.

Application and Desktop Shortcuts in Citrix – Default Settings

Let’s first understand how to use Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix with their default settings.

If an application or a desktop is subscribed by a user (set as favorite) then it gets added to start menu of the endpoint.

Favorites tab in Citrix Workspace app
Subscribed apps in the start menu

Subscribed applications are placed inside a folder in the start menu. The name of the folder is the same as the category of published application. Category for an application is defined in the Delivery option.

Published application properties

Applications with no category and Desktops are placed in the start menu as standalone shortcuts. It is very hard to distinguish them from locally installed applications. However, the Target field in properties of the shortcut can reveal that this is a Citrix published application. The path will always start with “C:\Program Files (x86)\Citrix\ICA Client\SelfServicePlugin\SelfService.exe.

Shortcut properties 1
Shortcut properties 2

One more thing to note is that subscribed apps and desktops are added to Programs and Features also. Here, it is easier to differentiate them from locally installed applications because the publisher column will clearly say Delivered by Citrix.

Citrix Application shortcuts in programs and features

Although not sensible but users can force applications with category defined in properties to be placed in start menu without any parent folder. To do that, open Advanced Preferences/Preferences of Citrix workspace app/receiver and click Shortcuts and Reconnect (Settings option in Receiver).

Workspace App Advanced preferences

In Application Display tab, under Category Options, enable “Enable different path for Start Menu and Desktop” and disable Category as Start Menu Path. Click OK and then click Yes when prompted to restart. The restart process doesn’t impact applications that are already opened from Citrix. Now, all subscribed applications will be positioned as standalone shortcuts in the start menu. Notice that in second screenshot below, Acrobat Reader DC is not more a part of Common Apps folder.Note: Citrix receiver 4.5 and older don’t have “Shortcuts and Reconnect” or “Settings option” available in Preferences

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix
Citrix application shortcuts in the start menu

*Category as Desktop Path is explained later in this article.

In the Delivery tab of an application properties, enabling Add shortcut to user’s desktop will place the shortcut of the subscribed application on the desktop of the endpoint. If the user has not set the application as favorite (subscribed) then there won’t be any shortcut on the desktop even if “Add shortcut to user’s desktop” is enabled in application properties. Again, an application with a category defined will be placed inside a folder on the desktop.

Add shortcut to user's desktop
Application shortcuts on the desktop

Users can override the placement of application shortcuts in the start menu and desktop. To do that, open Citrix Workspace App/Receiver Advanced Preferences/Preference and click Shortcuts and Reconnect (Settings option in Receiver)

Under Start Menu Options in Application Display tab, uncheck Show Applications in Start Menu to stop the shortcut placement in the start menu even if applications and desktops are subscribed. This has no impact on the shortcuts placed on the desktop.

To place shortcuts of all subscribed applications and desktop inside a single folder in the start menu rather than allowing each application icon to be positioned inside its own folder (application category) and desktop icon to be positioned as standalone, select “Show Applications in Start Menu” and provide a Name for Start Menu Folder.

Click OK. Click Yes when receiver/workspace app prompts to restart. The restart doesn’t impact already opened application from Citrix.

In my opinion, this is the most convenient and clutter free method of managing application and desktop shortcuts in Citrix. Later in this article we will see how a Group policy setting can be leveraged to manage application and desktop shortcuts.

*If Start Menu folder name is defined and “Category as Start Menu Path” is also enabled then Start Menu Folder will override.

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix
Application shortcuts in the start menu in a folder

Enabling Show Applications on Desktop under Desktop Options in Application Display tab of Advanced preferences/Preferences of Citrix Workspace app/Receiver will place application and desktop shortcuts on the desktop of the endpoint even if “Add shortcut to user’s desktop” is not enabled for a published application, but the application has to be subscribed (set as favorite).

Show applications on Desktop
Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix
separate Application shortcuts on the desktop

To place all shortcuts of the subscribed applications inside a single folder on Desktop, enable “Show Application on Desktop” and provide a Name for Desktop Folder. Click OK and click Yes to restart workspace app/receiver.

Show applications on Desktop in a folder

Notice that Acrobat Reader DC still maintains its category folder (Common Apps) when placed in a single folder (Citrix) on Desktop whereas in start menu, its shortcut is directly placed in Citrix folder. This is the default behavior.

Application shortcuts on desktop in a folder 1

To override the placement of shortcuts of subscribed applications in their category folder on the desktop, enable “Enable different path for Start Menu and Desktop” and disable Category as Desktop Path. Click OK and click Yes when prompted to restart the workspace app/receiver.

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix

Notice that Acrobat Reader DC is no more a part of its Parent folder Common Apps.

Application shortcuts on desktop in a folder 2

Managing Application and Desktop Shortcuts in Citrix by using KEYWORDS

There are two keywords that, if appended to the description of a published application, will automatically subscribe the application to end users. We already know from previous topic that a subscribed application always creates a shortcut in the start menu at least unless specifically restricted.

Mandatory – Application with Mandatory keyword cannot be unsubscribed or user cannot remove it from Favorites.

KEYWORDS Mandatory

Notice that it is not possible to unsubscribe Citrix Health Assistant as there is no star symbol at the top left corner of the icon and no “Remove from favorites” option in the drop-down sub-menu.

No Add to favorite option in Workspace app

Auto – Application with Auto keyword can be unsubscribed or user can remove it from Favorites.

KEYWORDS Auto

Notice that Magnifier, which is published with KEYWORDS:Auto, can be easily unsubscribed or removed from favorites.

Automatically subscribed application in workspace app

Now in the start menu, the shortcuts of both applications will either appear as they are published (within or without a category folder)

Subscribed application shortcuts in the start menu

Or in a single folder if Start Menu Folder is defined in Workspace app/Receiver (Advanced Preferences/Preferences > Shortcuts and Reconnect (Settings option in Receiver)).

Start Menu folder for citrix application shortcuts
Citrix application shortcuts in start menu in a single folder

One Exception

Unless specifically denied/disabled or if only receiver for web sites (RfW) is used, applications that are subscribed or set as favorite would normally create a shortcut in the start menu. There is one exception to this rule – When a user subscribes to an application with KEYWORDS:prefer=”application” in the description, Citrix Workspace app searches for the specified name or path on the user’s device to determine whether the application is already installed locally. If the application is found, Citrix Workspace app subscribes the user to the delivered application, but does not create a shortcut. There is a workaround to this exception – create PreferTemplateDirectory in registry on client device, add a local or UNC path to that string, add shortcuts of locally installed applications to that path and then publish application with KEYWORDS:prefer=”shortcutname”. Visit Shortcut Creation for Locally Installed Apps Via Citrix Receiver for more detail.

Here application or shortcutname is either one or more complete words in the name of the local application as given by the shortcut file name, or the absolute path including the executable file name to the local application from the Start Menu folder.

For more information about prefer keyword, visit application delivery topic on configuration page of Workspace app documentation and scroll down to Configuring Local App Access applications.

Managing Application and Desktop Shortcuts in Citrix by using Registry

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix can be fully managed from Registry. The registry changes outlined in this topic can be either pushed through Configuration Manager or Group policy preferences.

Location – KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\Dazzle (or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\Dazzle)

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix

Name – UseCategoryAsStartMenuPath

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To place application shorts in their category folder in the start menu.

Default behavior – If category (folder) is defined in the Delivery tab of application properties then that application will be placed in the start menu inside a folder with the same name as category. Also see StartMenuDir and DesktopDir.

Name – StartMenuDir

Possible Values – Folder name.

Usage – To place all subscribed application and Desktop shortcuts in a folder (for example Citrix or Citrix Apps) in the start menu.

Default behavior – Application shortcuts are either placed in their category folder in the start menu or as standalone shortcuts if category is not defined in Delivery tab of application properties. Also see DesktopDir.

Name – SilentlyUninstallRemovedResources

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To remove shortcuts and Citrix Workspace icon for an application that was previously available from the Store but now is not available. Also see AutoReInstallModifiedApps.

Default Behavior –SilentlyUninstallRemovedResources is disabled.

Name – SelfServiceMode

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – Set to False so Receiver disables the Self-Service interface and automatically places all published shortcuts on the Start Menu and/or Desktop.

Default behavior – SelfServiceMode is enabled.

Name – RemoveAppsOnLogoff (tested on Windows 10 1809 with Workspace app 1912 LTSR CU2)

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To remove all application and desktop shortcuts from start menu and/or desktop when user logs off from Workspace app. Useful feature for shared devices.

Default behavior – Application and desktop icons remain in/on start menu/desktop when user logs off.

Name – RemoveAppsonExit (tested on Windows 10 1809 with Workspace app 1912 LTSR CU2)

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To remove all application and desktop shortcuts from start menu and/or desktop when user exits out of Workspace app (right click Workspace app icon in the system tray and select exit).

Default behavior – Application and desktop icons remain in/on start menu/desktop when user exits Workspace app.

Name – PutShortcutsOnDesktop

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To place shortcut of all subscribed apps and desktops on the Desktop.

Default behavior – First, the application should have “Add shortcut to user’s desktop” enabled in its properties. Second, the app has to be subscribed (Set as favorite). Only when both conditions are met, a shortcut for an application will be placed on the desktop. Since desktops don’t have “Add shortcut to the user’s desktop” option available, their shortcut icons are never placed on the desktop of the end user device even if user has subscribed (set as favorite).

Name – PutShortcutsInStartMenu

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To enable/disable shortcuts of subscribed apps and desktops to appear in Start Menu.

Default behavior – Subscribed apps and desktops appear as shortcuts in the start menu.

Name – PreferTemplateDirectory

Possible Values – A local or UNC path

Usage – To create shortcuts of subscribed applications that are locally installed. Visit Shortcut Creation for Locally Installed Apps Via Citrix Receiver for more detail.

Default behavior – Applications published with KEYWORDS:prefer=”****” are not placed as shortcuts in the start menu or desktop even if they are subscribed.

Name – DontCreateAddRemoveEntry

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – To create or not create an entry of a subscribed application or desktop in programs and features (add/remove program).

Default Behavior – DontCreateAddRemoveEntry is disabled.

Name – DesktopDir

Possible Values – Folder name

Usage – To place all subscribed applications as shortcuts in a folder on the desktop. If PutShortcutsOnDesktop is enabled then subscribed desktop shortcuts will also be placed inside that folder on the desktop.

Default behavior – If “Add shortcut to user’s desktop” is enabled then all subscribed application shortcuts will be placed on the desktop within their category folder or as standalone shortcut icons if category is not defined.

Name – AutoReInstallModifiedApps

Possible Values – True or False

Usage – When AutoReInstallModifiedApps is enabled, any changes to attributes of published apps and desktops on the server are reflected on the client machine. When AutoReInstallModifiedApps is disabled, apps and desktop attributes are not updated and shortcuts are not restored on refresh if deleted on the client. Also see SilentlyUninstallRemovedResources.

Default Behavior – AutoReinstallModifiedApps is enabled.

Managing Application and Desktop Shortcuts in Citrix by using Group Policies

The group policies that can assist in managing application and desktop shortcuts in Citrix are part of Workspace app/Receiver ADMX templates. If not already completed, download ADMX/ADML template for current release of workspace app from Download for admins (Deployment tools) section of Citrix Workspace app current release for Windows. ADMX/ADML template for LTSR version of workspace app can be downloaded from Citrix Workspace app LTSR for Windows. At the time of this writing Workspace app 2106 is the current release and Workspace app 1912 cumulative update 4 is the LTSR.

Citrix Workspace app current release admx adml files
Citrix Workspace app ltsr admx adml files

Once downloaded, extract the files from the folder. Copy CitrixBase.admx and receiver.admx and paste them to PolicyDefinitions folder in the SYSVOL share of your domain. Also copy the *.adml files to the PolicyDefinitions > en-us (for example). See Citrix Workspace app admx/adml files – Carl Staalhood.

Alright, now edit a group policy that applies to client computers or create a new one. Go to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Citrix Components > Citrix Workspace > SelfService or Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Citrix Components > Citrix Receiver > SelfService.

Computer Configuration Policies Administrative Templates Citrix Components Citrix Workspace SelfService
Computer Configuration Policies Administrative Templates Citrix Components Citrix Receiver SelfService

Double click Manage App shortcut and select Enable.

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix

If you are reading through the beginning of this article, you must realize that most of the options have already been described except last three.

  • Clear the set of applications shown in the Citrix Workspace Windows on log off – Frankly speaking, I never got it to work. If you do, please let me know.
  • Prevent Citrix Workspace performing a refresh of the application list when opened – Self-explanatory. By default, workspace app refreshes apps every 3600000 milliseconds (1 hour).
  • Ignore self service selection………. – Similar to disabling “Manage SelfServiceMode” policy but only applicable to PNAgent service.

Double click Manage SelfServiceMode. If you select Disabled then all the applications and desktops shall be automatically subscribed to the user creating a shortcut for each application and desktop in the start menu.

Manage SelfServiceMode group policy setting of workspace app or citrix receiver

If desired, Shortcuts and Reconnect option can be fully disabled from Advanced preferences. It is also possible to just hide the Application Display tab from Shortcuts and Reconnect window.

Citrix Workspace app Shortcuts and reconnect

Go to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Citrix Components > Citrix Workspace > SelfService > Advanced Preference options and double click Hide Settings. Select Enabled and choose the appropriate option from the drop down. Click Apply > OK. Disable Entire UI will disable Shortcuts and Reconnect option in Advanced Preferences. For Citrix Receiver, the name of the similar setting is Disable Settings and the path is Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Citrix Components > Citrix Receiver> SelfService. “Shortcuts and Reconnect” is called “Settings option” in Citrix Receiver.

Hide Settings GPO at Computer Configuration Policies Administrative Templates Citrix Components Citrix Workspace SelfService Advanced Preference options
Disable Settings GPO at Computer Configuration Policies Administrative Templates Citrix Components Citrix Receiver SelfService

Managing Shortcuts from Storefront

A storefront site’s web.config file at C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\Roaming can be used to place shortcuts in the start menu and on desktop.

Storefront web.config file

To do that, open web.config file in a text editor of your choice. Search <annotatedServices>. There would be one <annotatedServices>…….</annotatedServices> for each store. If you have just one store then there would be a single pair of <annotatedServices>…….</annotatedServices>.

To know at which store’s <annotatedServices> tag you are, look at the <account id=”…” name=”…” ….> tag just one line above. The value of the name parameter will confirm the store name.

annotatedservices tag in web.config file

Now as per requirement, multiple or just one <property name=”…” value=”…” /> tag(s) can be added inside <properties>…</properties> tags within <annotatedServices>…….</annotatedServices> tags of the store of your choice.

Here is an example:

Application and Desktop shortcuts in Citrix

As described in previous topic that disabling “Manage SelfServiceMode” group policy setting makes the store mandatory, causing all applications and desktops to be automatically subscribed. Same this can be achieved from Storefront console. Go to – Store Settings/User subscription and Disable user subscription (Mandatory store).

Disable User subscription (Mandatory Store)

Managing Shortcuts by using Workspace app/Receiver Command line parameters

Workspace app allows some customization of Application and Desktop shortcuts during the installation. Here is a list of command line parameters and their usage:

CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe STARTMENUDIR=\Citrix

Place application and desktop icons inside a folder called Citrix in the start menu. You can use the name of your choice for start menu directory.

CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe DESKTOPDIR=\Citrix PutShortcutsOnDesktop=True

Place application and desktop shortcuts in a folder called Citrix on desktop. You can use the name of your choice for desktop directory.

CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe SELFSERVICEMODE=True/False

True = Self-Service UI is enabled

False = The store is mandatory

CitrixWorkspaceApp.exe DisableSetting=0/1/2/3

0 = (default) Displays both Shortcuts and Reconnect options in the Advanced Preferences.

1 = Displays only Reconnect option in the Advanced Preferences.

2 = Displays only Shortcuts option in the Advanced Preferences.

3 = Hides both Shortcuts and Reconnect options from the Advanced Preferences.

Recommended Reads

If interested, see How to publish applications from Individual servers in Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop 7.x.

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