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Microsoft Releases a Script to Recover Some Windows App Shortcuts Deleted on Friday 13

Rabia Noureen

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Windows 11

Last week, Microsoft confirmed a new issue that caused application shortcuts to disappear from the Taskbar and Start Menu on Windows PCs. Microsoft has recently released a PowerShell script that helps IT admins to restore some deleted Windows application shortcuts.

On January 13, several IT admins reported on Reddit and Twitter that a buggy attack surface reduction (ASR) rule is removing Windows shortcut (.lnk) files. Some administrators addressed the issue by setting the “Block Win32 API calls from Office macro” rule to Audit Only. Microsoft also issued a Defender update to deploy a fix but warned that IT Pros will need to recover the deleted shortcuts manually.

In a blog post published on the Microsoft Tech Community website, Microsoft detailed advanced hunting queries (AHQs) that make it easier for sysadmins to find affected application shortcuts. Additionally, the company provided a PowerShell script to recreate shortcuts for some deleted applications on Windows machines.

“Microsoft has confirmed steps that customers can take to recreate start menu links for a significant sub-set of the affected applications that were deleted. These have been consolidated into the PowerShell script below to help enterprise administrators take recovery actions in their environment,” Microsoft explained.

The PowerShell script is available to download on GitHub, which scans the Registry to check if the listed programs are installed on the Windows device. If so, the script recreates the corresponding shortcuts for all apps that don’t exist in the Start Menu. The company notes that IT admins can restore shortcuts for several Microsoft apps and third-party applications such as Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Google Chrome.

Microsoft provides manual instructions to recreate deleted Windows application shortcuts

Microsoft has also provided step-by-step instructions that let users manually recreate the shortcuts on Windows 10 and Windows 11. Keep in mind that this process involves the reinstallation of the entire program, and it might take much longer to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, some IT admins reported that the PowerShell script doesn’t recreate shortcuts for several popular Windows apps, including Microsoft Office. Moreover, it fails to recover shortcuts deleted from the desktop or Taskbar. This means that IT admins will need to use third-party tools to retrieve them on Windows machines.

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