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Mac Tip: Creating And Using An Alias

Posted in How To on 17/05/2012 by Mark Greentree

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This Mac tip is provided by Mark Greentree and was originally posted on Mark’s blog – Everyday Mac Support. For more of Mark’s tips visit his site, follow him on Twitter, or browse his archive of posts here.


How to: Create And Use An Alias

Do you have files on multiple hard drives or in multiple folders?

Have you ever forgotten where that important file is located on your computer?

Maybe, you are tired of navigating through folder after folder to find that document you need everyday.

If any of these statements sound familiar then you may benefit from creating and using an alias.

An alias is simply a small file which represents where your original document is located. It is not a copy of your original file. It is simply a pointer to the original file.

In order to make an alias, you can use any of the following steps:

  • Press Command + L on your keyboard once a file or folder is selected
  • Select any file or folder and then proceed to File > Make Alias in the Menu Bar
  • You can select a file or folder and either right click your mouse or press Control + Left Click on your mouse which will bring up a menu allowing the user to select Make Alias
  • You can hold Command + Option down while dragging and dropping any file or folder to a new file or folder. Doing so will create an alias of the selected files or folders.
  • You can also select multiple files if you would like an alias of an entire folder or directory for example.

So how do you know what an alias looks like? Does it appear the same as a regular file?

No. You will see a small curved arrow on the bottom left hand side of the icon as shown below:

Also when the alias is created the title of the alias file will have the word alias at the end. You can of course change or remove this if you wish without effecting the original file or folder.

Personally, I leave it on so I can identify the alias from the original. I do this because if you copy the alias file to say a USB memory stick, the alias file will copy but the original file will not. The alias will still point to the original file but if you are planning on using a different computer you will not be able to access the original file.

Even though you will double click the alias to launch. The original file will open and changes made will be reflected in the original document. The alias holds no information relating to your original file other than its location.

If you have forgotten where your original file is located you can look in the Get Info window for the alias and it will show you where you original is located. To access this area simply click Command + I on your keyboard or go to File > Get Info from the Menu Bar after selecting the alias file. Within this window you will be presented with the original file location as shown below:

You can also right click over an alias and select Show Original. Performing this action will take you to the exact directory where the original file is located and the file will be highlighted.

It is important to remember if you move the original file your alias will no longer link to the original file. To solve this problem simply return to the alias Get Info window and midway down you will see Select New Original. Simply click and navigate to where the original file is located. When found click Open and a new file structure locating the original file will be connected to the alias file.

You should also remember that deleting an alias will not delete the original file.



Mark Greentree

Author

Mark Greentree

Mark Greentree is the principle blogger and podcast creator of Everyday Mac Support. His aim is to inform users at all levels of experience how to get the most out of the Apple hardware and associated software. He is the lead host of Not Another Mac Podcast, an Apple based round table discussion with Mac users and experts from all over world.