How to create shortcuts to start a Windows Defender scan on Windows 10

Windows Defender is the security software that protects your PC against different types of malware, including viruses, spyware, and other kinds of malicious code that may cause harm to your device.

Although you can choose from a slew of alternative antivirus software, Windows Defender has been improving over the years, and it has proven to be a robust security solution. You don't only get real-time protection and free updates, but for advanced users, there is even a command-line utility to manage and schedule custom tasks.

Furthermore, you can also use the command-line utility to create scripts to quickly run certain tasks and keep your computer running smoothly.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to create different shortcuts using specific commands to run a full or quick virus scan with a single double-click. Plus, we'll show you a quick way to scan the Downloads folder for infected files without even having to open File Explorer.

How to create a shortcut to do a full scan using Windows Defender

Instead of opening up Windows Defender, you can use the following steps to create a shortcut to run a full virus scan on your computer:

  1. While on the desktop, right-click, and from the context menu select New, and click Shortcut.

  1. Copy the following commands and paste it in the location of the item field, and click Next:"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 2Or as an alternative, you can use the following command, which will start a full scan while opening the Windows Defender interface:"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe" -FullScanAlso, you can use the same command but adding the -Hide switch to run the full scan with the Windows Defender interface minimized."%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe" -FullScan -Hide

  1. Enter a custom name for the shortcut, such as "AV Full Scan" and click Finish.

  1. Right-click the shortcut and select Properties.
  2. Click the Change Icon button.
  3. In Change Icon, enter the following path and press Enter::%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe
  4. Select the Windows Defender icon and click OK.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK to complete the task.

Once you completed the steps, simply double-click the shortcut to launch a full scan using Windows Defender.

How to create a shortcut to do a quick scan using Windows Defender

If you prefer, you can create a shortcut to do a quick malware scan on your computer with a single double-click with the following steps:

  1. While on the desktop, right-click, and from the context menu select New, and click Shortcut.

  1. Copy the following commands and paste it in the location of the item field, and click Next:"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 1Or as an alternative, you can use the following command, which will start a quick scan while opening the Windows Defender interface:"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe" -QuickScanYou can use the same command but adding the -Hide switch to run the quick scan with the Windows Defender interface minimized."%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe" -QuickScan -Hide

  1. Enter a custom name for the shortcut, such as "AV Quick Scan" and click Finish.

  1. Right-click the shortcut and select Properties.
  2. Click the Change Icon button.
  3. In Change Icon, enter the following path and press Enter:%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MSASCui.exe
  4. Select the Windows Defender icon and click OK.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK to complete the task.

Once you completed the steps, simply double-click the shortcut to launch a quick virus scan using Windows Defender.

Bonus: How to quickly scan Downloads folder for malware

If you usually download a lot of files from the internet, instead of doing a full scan, you can setup a batch file to scan only the Downloads folder on-demand to make sure you didn't download any file that can harm your computer.

  1. Open Notepad.
  2. Copy and paste the following commands:"%ProgramFiles%\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -Scan -ScanType 3 -File %userprofile%\Downloads@pause

  1. Click on File.
  2. Click on Save as.
  3. Pick a descriptive name, such Scan_Downloads, and append the .bat file extension.

Now simply double-click the Scan_Downloads.bat file to begin the scan on the Downloads folder.

If the scan return code is 0, the no malware has been found, or it was successfully removed. And if the scan returns code is 1, then a malware was found and couldn't be cleaned.

It's worth pointing out that you're not limited to scan the Downloads folder, you can always change the folder path %userprofile%\Downloads on step 2 and replace it with the location you want to do a quick scan for malware.

Remember that the Windows Defender command-line utility (MpCmdRun.exe) includes a number of features you can use to get even more creative.

While we're focusing this guide on Windows 10, these instructions should also work with previous versions of the operating system, including Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

Do you usually manually do a malware scan on your computer? Tell us in the comments below.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

12 Comments
  • That's cool man, thanks but how does this compare to Scheduled scan and Real time protection?
  • As I understand it, real time protection checks files that are being accessed or executed, scheduled full scan will check every file on your hard drive regardless the sleeping or being executed. Thanks,
  • This article is very interesting but I have a doubt: Should I do use Windows Defender when I have another AV installed in my laptop? I did switch from mac to windows and I'm re-learning to use this OS after 10 years with the competition. Thanks.
  • When you install a second antivirus, Windows Defender automatically disables itself. If you're running the Anniversary Update, you will also get the option to configure periodic scanning on Windows 10 that will automatically allows Windows Defender to scan your computer every now and then without impacting performance and catching anything you other antivirus may have missed. Thanks, Mauro
  • Thanks for the reply :) I tried to use the "scan downloads folder" command and didn't work in my laptop. It says: bad command line - command line - option should start with '-' or '/' Aguilera/Downloads Any help or insight about it. Thanks in advance.
  • You can use either "-" or "/" and it should work just fine. I tested both ways. Make sure that @pause is in second line by itself. Thanks,
  • Lol. I'll just continue to use 4 clicks to start a scan. I need the exercise.
  • And a tile?
  • I'd just be happy if Defender would do it's full scan when necessary rather than getting an alert saying it needs to do a full scan. This is not something I should have to manually initiate, but for whatever reason, it won't just go ahead and scan when it's supposed to. It obviously knows when it's time to scan as it never misses alerting me, but I still have to manually start it. Very annoying.
  • Since AU I have not had to interact with it at all. I get periodic notifications saying a scan had taken place.
  • Guys, just don't. Use Thirt Party AV instead, much better in any way. Please read this blog post from Eugene Kaspersky to know more about why Microsoft is pushing Defender.  https://eugene.kaspersky.com/2016/11/10/thats-it-ive-had-enough/  
  • I agree in using 3rd Party AV. However, being on Insider Fast Ring, having anything but Defender is proving to be somewhat problematic. OS will not update/install if another AV application is installed. I believe it has been fixed since last OS update so I will be throwing Norton back on. The blog you linked is well-written and a keeper to be shared most definitely. Perhaps a bit of biasness since we're talking Kaspersky. The main take away however is Defender is the bare MINIMUM of an AV software solution and if common sense and/or safe browsing practices aren't being utilized by the end-user then 3rd party/pay-for alternatives should be used.