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How to Create an Alias in Mac OS X Lion

An alias in Mac OS X Lion is a tiny file that automatically opens the file, folder, disk, or network volume that it represents. Although an alias in Mac OS X Lion is technically an icon, it’s different from other icons; it actually does nothing but open another icon automatically when you double-click it.

When you create an alias, its icon looks the same as the icon that it represents, but the suffix alias is tacked onto its name, and a tiny arrow called a badge (as shown in the margin) appears in the bottom-left corner of its icon.

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To create an alias for an icon, do one of the following:

  • Click the parent icon and choose File→Make Alias.

  • Click the parent icon and press Command+L.

  • Click the parent icon and use the Action menu’s Make Alias command.

  • Click an icon while holding down the Control key and then choose the Make Alias command from the contextual menu that appears.

In all four of the previous techniques, the alias is created in the same folder as its parent. If that doesn’t suit you, try this fifth way:

  • Click any file or folder, press and hold down Command+Option, and then drag the file or folder while continuing to hold down Command+Option. Presto! An alias appears where you release the mouse button.

When you first create a file, you can save it in its proper folder inside the Documents folder. If it’s a document that you plan to work on for more than a day or two (such as a magazine article or book chapter), you can make an alias of the document (or folder) and plop it on the Desktop. After you finish the article or chapter and submit it to an editor, you can trash the alias, leaving the original file safe and sound in its proper folder.

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