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All about an alias (10.4/5)

An alias is a pointer to a file or folder on the Mac's hard disk drive. When you click or double click an alias the original file or folder is opened. An alias has an icon and to distinguish it from the icons that real files and folders have, it has an arrow in the bottom left-hand corner. The filename can be the same as the original file or different. Let's take a look at a typical alias.

Mac OS X aliasOpen the Applications folder and find TextEdit. Hold down the Ctrl key and click TextEdit. Choose Make Alias in the menu that pops up. Right next to Tedit Edit you'll get another file called TextEdit alias (or TextEdit.app alias if you have set Finder to show file extensions). Now drag the alias out of the Finder window and drop it on the desktop. You now have an icon on the desktop which, when clicked, will open the TextEdit application. You could put the alias in any folder to make it instantly accessible without having to hunt for it. You can drag it to the Dock and drop it on it to add it. You can even drag it to the Places section of the Finder window sidebar, so your favourite app is available everywhere.

An alias does not have to be a pointer to an application like TextEdit and you can select a folder and make an alias in exactly the same way. You can then drag the alias to the desktop, put it in the Dock, or add it to Places in Finder windows.

When an alias is created using the method described, the name of the original file or folder is used and the word 'alias' is added to the end. If you select a file or folder and click File, File, Make Alias or press Command+L, the same naming convention is used. There's no reason why the filename has to end in 'alias' and you can click the filename and delete the 'alias' if you want. OS X still knows that it is an alias even though the word 'alias' does not appear in the name. Double clicking an alias opens the original file, but when you delete an alias by dragging it to the Trash, you just delete the alias and not the original file. You can create more than one alias for a file or folder and they all point to the same item.

When you create an alias in the usual way, the word 'alias' is added to the filename, but there is a way of creating an alias without the 'alias'. Open a finder window to view the item you want to make an alias of and then hold down the Command and Option keys. Now click and drag the file or folder out of the Finder window and drop it on the desktop. An alias is created without the 'alias'. (It is important that you click and drag the icon and not the filename or it won't work.)

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