A shortcut is a special type of file in some operating systems that points to another file or device. You can place shortcuts on the desktop to conveniently access files that may be stored deep in the directory structure.
Double-clicking the shortcut icon is the same as double-clicking the actual file. You can control how a shortcut appears by naming it anything you want and associating a particular icon with it. Other commonly used shortcuts are keyboard shortcuts, where a special key combination causes a specific command to be executed.
Image: Google Chrome shortcut on a Windows 10 Desktop.