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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Make an Alias (Shortcut)

Before You Begin

Find an Item

Rename a Folder or Document

See Also

Change an Icon

Sometimes you will have need to keep a document (or folder or application) in more than once place at once. You might have a Word document in your Documents folder or a song in your Music folder, but you might also want to have it on your Desktop for easy access. The Dock provides some of this convenience, but sometimes what you really want is to create an alias—a shortcut to a document, folder, or application. This is helpful in situations where an application or another user expects to be able to find a document in a certain folder, but you want to have it in a more convenient place for yourself—but you don't want to make a duplicate that might be changed independently of the original. An alias lets you access one item from two, three, or as many locations in the system as you want, while leaving the original item unmoved.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4


Key Term - Alias—A pseudo-file that, when opened, instead opens a real file, application, or folder elsewhere in the system. An alias can even point to files on external disks or remote servers, and it will mount the disk or server to access the original item.

An alias looks just like the original item, but has no contents of its own; it's just a pointer to the original file. If you double-click the alias, the original item opens. You only ever have to make changes in one place (the original file), rather than having to keep two copies of the document in sync. Unlike shortcuts in Windows, aliases in Mac OS X continue to work even if you move the original item from one place to another.

  1. Select Item to Alias

  2. Open a Finder window and navigate to the folder that contains the item to which you want to create an alias. Click the item so that it becomes selected, with the darkened box around it.


    To delete an alias, simply throw it away. Trashing the alias will not damage the original item!

  3. Create the Alias

  4. Select Make Alias from the File menu. Alternatively, press Command + L, or select Make Alias from the Action button menu in the Finder window. A new item appears next to the selected one, with the same name as the original and alias appended to the end of the name.


    The CommandL key combination seems to have no relation to the term "alias"; however, it is likely named for the Unix "link" concept, which is very similar to the aliases of the Mac OS. Mac OS X introduced the idea of minimizing windows, which was given the old CommandM key combination that used to be used for Make Alias.

  5. Name the Alias

  6. The new alias becomes the selected item, and the name becomes an editable text field. You can type whatever name you like for the new alias, as long as it doesn't have the same name as any other item in the folder it's in. Press Return to commit the name change.

  7. Move the Alias

  8. Open another Finder window, navigate to where you want to move the alias, and drag the alias from its original location to the new window. If you want the alias to reside on the Desktop, just drag the newly renamed alias from the original Finder window to the Desktop.

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