Creating Aliases in Mac OS X

For Windows users switching to Mac, sometimes identical functions in both operating systems can be obscured by a difference in terminology. This is often the case with aliases in Mac OS X. Aliases are the equivalent to Windows shortcuts, the icons featuring a curled arrow and a .lnk filetype, that act as reference points to other files on your system. Aliases are great time-savers for opening applications, files or folders that are located deep inside the folder system of your Mac.

In this tutorial, we’ll cover creating aliases, and show you some handy keyboard shortcuts to use when working with them.

1.) Open a Finder window and navigate to the file, application or folder for which you wish to create an alias. In this example, we have navigated to the file EyeTV User’s Guide, which is located in the folder Mac Software in our Software Documentation folder within our Documents folder – an action that necessitates clicking through several levels of Finder windows:

Navigating through Several Levels to a File in OS X.png

2.) Returning to the icon view in the Finder window, ensure the file is selected and then open File in the Finder Toolbar and select Make Alias (or press ⌘-L):

Selecting Make Alias from Finder Menu in OS X.png

3.) An alias to the file is created in the same folder, with the same name with alias appended to it, and the name field highlighted in case you wish to give it an alternate title:

An Alias and the Original File Together in OS X.png

4.) The alias can be dragged anywhere on your Mac, including the right side of your Dock, and double-clicking with the Left-Mouse Button will open the original file:

Opening a File from an Alias in OS X.png

5.) This is not the only way you can create an alias though. You can select a file and then, holding Cmd+Option (⌘+Alt), you can drag an alias from the file and drop it wherever you want on your Mac.

You can also create an alias by dragging the icon from the title bar of an open file or folder to wherever you wish to place the alias:

Creating an Alias by Dragging from the Toolbar in OS X.png

6.) If you ever need to locate the original file that an alias points to, select the alias, click on File in the Finder Toolbar and then select Show Original (or press ⌘-R):

Selecting Show Original from Finder Menu in OS X.png

When you no longer need an alias, it can be dragged to the Trash and deleted. This will not affect the original file.

Aliases are a simple way of accessing files without having to make your way through the multiple levels of the OS X folder system, and are especially useful for files or folders which you constantly use but wish to keep in their present state of organization.

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Comments [1]

  1. Mike says:

    Is there a way to customize or remove the 'alias' text that is appended to the end of the name?

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