Note: C# Version can be found here.
If you have ever looked at the format of an Internet Explorer shortcut, you would know that it has a format similar to the following:
i.e. it is essentially a .ini file, organized into different sections. If you ever wanted to retrieve these "Favourites" to show in your application you would need to open this file, and interrogate it for the relevant information. Thankfully, there are some PInvoke calls that can be used to make this task a little easier. This CodeBank submission aims to show how you can enumerate all your Internet Explorer Favourites and display them in your application, as well as how you can add new ones.
Internet Explorer Favourite
An Internet Explorer Favourite is essentially a file on your file system, with a .url extension. The name of the file, without the extenion, is used as the label for the Favourite within Internet Explorer, and the URL, contained within the file, is what is used to navigate to that Favourite. There are additional items in the .url file, including the icon to use for the shortcut, but these will not be discussed in this thread.
Two PInvokes are going to be used to get/set the information that we need.
The first is GetPrivateProfileString, you can find information about this here:
This will be used to get the information regarding the URL of the shortcut.
The second is , which you can find information about here:
This will be used to create a new Internet Explorer Favourite.
Enumerating all Internet Explorer Favourites
All Internet Explorer Favourites are stored in the current users Favourites folder. An easy way to get to this folder is to use:
With that in mind, the following code can be used to get all of the Favourites (including Favourites contained within nested folders) and put them into a TreeView (assuming you have a TreeView on your form called:
Private sb As New StringBuilder(500)
Private result As Integer
Private Sub GetFavouritesForDirectory(ByVal di As DirectoryInfo, ByVal dirNode As TreeNode)
For Each fileinfo As FileInfo In di.GetFiles()
result = GetPrivateProfileString("InternetShortcut", "URL", "", sb, sb.Capacity, fileinfo.FullName)
If result > 0 Then
Dim myFav As New FavouriteTreeNode()
myFav.Text = Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(fileinfo.FullName)
myFav.Url = New Uri(sb.ToString())
myFav.DirectoryPath = fileinfo.FullName
If dirNode Is Nothing Then
Private Sub GetFavourites()
For Each dirName As String In Directory.GetDirectories(Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Favorites))
Dim dirInfo As New DirectoryInfo(dirName)
Dim NewNode As New TreeNode()
NewNode.Text = dirInfo.Name
NewNode.Tag = dirInfo.FullName
GetFavouritesForDirectory(New DirectoryInfo(Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Favorites)), Nothing)
The above code makes use of a custom class called FavouriteTreeNode. This is a simple class which inherits from TreeNode adding on a couple of specific properties to fit our needs:
Public Class FavouriteTreeNode
Private _url As Uri
Public Property Url() As Uri
Set(ByVal value As Uri)
_url = value
Private _directoryPath As String
Public Property DirectoryPath() As String
Set(ByVal value As String)
_directoryPath = value
Public Sub New()
Public Sub New(ByVal displayText As String, ByVal url As Uri)
Me.Text = displayText
Me.Url = url
With these two methods defined, it is a simple matter of calling GetFavourites on the Load Event of your form.
Due to the fact that there could literally be hundreds of Favourites stored on the user's machine, in various different nested folders, I have decided to only display the Favourites when required, rather than waste time loading them when they aren't needed. To that end, I have used the BeforeExpand event of the TreeView to decide whether or not I have to go and find some more Favourites for the currently selected Node.
Private Sub FavouritesTreeView_BeforeExpand(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.TreeViewCancelEventArgs) Handles FavouritesTreeView.BeforeExpand
If e.Node.Nodes(0).Text = "*" Then
Me.GetFavouritesForDirectory(New DirectoryInfo(e.Node.Tag.ToString()), e.Node)
Add new Internet Explorer Favourite
To add a favourite, it's a simple call to the other PInvoke call, WritePrivateProfileString, providing the information for the new path to the Favourites file, as well as the Url that you want to save with it. Here is an example:
Private Sub SaveFavouriteButton_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles SaveFavouriteButton.Click
If FavouriteDisplayNameTextBox.Text = String.Empty Then
Throw New ArgumentException("You must provide a Display Name for the Favourite")
If FavouriteUrlTextBox.Text = String.Empty Then
Throw New ArgumentException("You must provide a Url for the Favourite")
Dim favouriteUri As Uri
If Not Uri.TryCreate(FavouriteUrlTextBox.Text, UriKind.RelativeOrAbsolute, favouriteUri) Then
Throw New ArgumentException("Please provide a valid Url")
Dim favouriteFileName As String
favouriteFileName = Path.Combine(Environment.GetFolderPath(Environment.SpecialFolder.Favorites), FavouriteDisplayNameTextBox.Text + ".url")
WritePrivateProfileString("InternetShortcut", "URL", favouriteUri.ToString(), favouriteFileName)
Attached is a couple working sample of the above code. Let me know if you have any questions.