Make an Alias

Make an Alias
Mac Tip#31/28-Nov-2001

Your Mac is a great place for filing things. Even someone like me who’s hopeless at filing can still find things later by using Sherlock. But sometimes you don’t need Sherlock — an alias would make life simpler.

Let’s say I’m working on a special project — this week I’m trying to take some photos of magpies with my digital camera. I’m filing all the photos in a folder named with the date. That means I get one folder every day. I keep those folders inside another one called Bird Photos. That one’s inside a folder called Photography, and all of that is inside my Documents Folder.

What a trial to get at my photos when I need them! I have to open up half a dozen folders each time.

So I don’t. Instead I make an alias of the folder I need and store that alias on the Desktop where I can find it easily. This keeps my photos safely filed in the right place but I can easily and quickly get to them.

First I find the folder I want to make an alias of: Bird Photos. Click on it once to select it and then do one of these actions:

  • Go to the File menu and choose Make Alias
  • Press Command M (in OS 9; in Mac OS X it’s Command L)
  • Hold down Command and Option and drag away from the folder
  • Hold down the Control key, click on the folder and choose Make Alias from the contextual menu.

You’ll find that in each case you’ll end up with what seems to be a second folder. It’ll have the same name but it might have the word “alias” on the end, and the writing will be italic. The icon will also have a very small arrow in the bottom left corner.

You can change the name of this alias if you want, and you can drag the alias to wherever you want it (like the Desktop).

If you double-click the alias the real folder opens.

You can make an alias of a folder, a document or a piece of software to give you easy access to your files.

So, tidy up your desktop and put away all those files lying around, then make aliases of the items you want quick access to.

Oh, and if you don’t need an alias any more, just put it in the Trash. Your original folder or document stays safely on your hard drive.

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  1. Jennifer said:

    I would like to use this with a citation to your site for a internal how to guide .. please contact me :)

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hey folks. MacTips uses a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. I love to know where they’re being published, but you’re free to use them for non-commercial purposes.

  2. Mark Palmos said:

    Hi Miraz,
    I found a workaround:
    create any shortcut (to anything)
    then command-I to get info, and chamge the path of the shortcut there.

    boy, who said osx was easier than windows?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      So glad you found a solution Mark, and that you were kind enough to share it with us.



  3. Mark Palmos said:

    I regularly use an app which by default will show the user folder on the system drive when you click to open a file. I want to go to the root of my media drive, but for the life of me, i cannot seem to be able to create an alias to the root of my media drive. (Very easy on Windows, but seems impossible on osx) :(
    Make alias is greyed out, and the keyboard shortcuts do not work either.

  4. Linus said:

    yes ‘alias’ is equivalent to ‘shortcut’

  5. Eric said:

    I think in windows a shortcut is the same as an alias.

  6. Quentin said:

    THANK YOU! I have been making many iMovies of various things, but I soon found it took up over 40 Gig’s! I have a 200 GB hard drive, and that took a big chunk out, so I moved them into my external HD, conviently It’s not the only thing there, so it took me awhile to find them, so I decided to make an alias on the desktop. [I haven't made an alias since Mac OS 9.] I was lost, so i searched it up, and got you. thanks a million!

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