How to Make an Alias in Mac OS X


How to Make an Alias in Mac OS X
Mac Tip #467, 15 December 2010

Looking for files you use often is a nuisance. Make an Alias to access one file easily from many places. Here’s how.

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An Alias is a pointer

You may have an important document or folder you need to access frequently.

My original file, with its Alias right next to it.

My original file, with its Alias right next to it.

An Alias is a kind of signpost that always links to the original file or folder, wherever you move the Alias to. It takes up virtually no space on your computer, so it’s a quick and easy way to access anything from anywhere. And you can set up more than one Alias for important files or folders.

An Alias can allow you to:

  • Quickly access files across a network or anywhere on your hard drive.
  • Change the name of the Alias to something more useful or memorable, while leaving the original file untouched.
  • Move the Alias around while the original file or folder stays where you want it filed.

How to make an Alias

First select the application, folder or file you want to make an alias of. Then any of these actions creates an alias:

  • Choose Make Alias from the File menu.
  • Press Command L
  • Hold down Command (⌘) Option (⌥) and drag the folder or file within the enclosing folder or to a different folder.
  • Hold down the Control key and choose Make Alias from the contextual menu.

A new file or folder appears, with the same filename followed by a space and the word alias. The icon also displays a small curvy arrow at the bottom left corner.

Double click the alias to open the original file, folder or application.

If you edit a file after using an alias to open it, the original file is changed. The alias is not a copy of a file; it’s just a quick way to access it.

ename an Alias.

The Alias on the right points to the file with a different name on the left.

Rename an Alias

You can change the name of the alias if you want — use the standard renaming techniques. My favourite method is to click once on the filename and move the mouse slightly. Another way is to select the file and press the Return key.

Move an alias

An Alias is a handy way to access a file on a fileserver or external hard drive.

An Alias is a handy way to access a file on a fileserver or external hard drive.

The great thing about an alias is that you can move it to anywhere you like, even if you need to keep the original file in a very specific place.

An Alias is a handy way to access a file on a fileserver or external hard drive, for example. If necessary, the alias will handle connecting to the server on your behalf.

Trash an Alias

If you don’t need an Alias any more, just put it in the Trash. Your original folder or file stays safely on your hard drive.

Tell us in the Comments how you’ve used Aliases on your Mac.

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2 Comments

  1. Brian said:

    Is there a way of removing the small arrow from the “Alias” so as not to show that it is a “Alias”?

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