Rebooting creationThe Essential Mac

Clean Up HD

Using an Alias

Now you've done it — you've listened to us and organized your hard drive into hierarchical folders, but now when you want to open MS Word or the letter to Aunt Tillie, you have to dig down through 5 layers of nested folders to find that dang file! Ah, but there is a better way — give it an Alias...

An Alias allows you to click here and open a file or application that's over there under all those layers of folders. An Alias is a pointer to a file or program — not a copy of a file, but only a pointer to it. When you double click on an Alias the original file opens wherever it is on your computer.

Make Alias menu

You create an Alias by first highlighting a file, folder or application then selecting File>Make Alias  [Command + M]. What looks like another copy of the file will appear below the original. However, notice that the name is in italics and the word alias has been added to it. You have now created a pointer to this original file — and you can place that Alias anywhere else on your computer that you want. You can even change the name of theAlias, if you want (like removing the word alias), it still remains a valid pointer to the original file.

Pagemaker Alias

For programs that you use most often, place an Alias on your desktop so you are always only one click away from your work. This also allows you to drag a file onto the Alias icon to open that file with that program (if you have System 7.5, or Apple's Photoshop ALiasMacintosh Drag and Drop software for System 7.1). But don't get too carried away with Aliases on your desktop — remember clutter is counterproductive.

We put Aliases to all programs that we use regularly into the Apple Menu Items folder (inside the System Folder) so that we can easily open these programs directly from the Apple menu. You could even create an Alias to the Apple Menu Items folder (yes you can make Aliases of folders) and keep it on your desktop — this makes it easy to drop new Aliases into the Apple Menu and delete old ones.

You can have as many Aliases as you want for a given file or program, so put them everywhere that makes sense to you. Can't decide if a letter to Mom goes in your "Letters" folder, your "Personal" folder, or your "To Do Soon" folder — then put the letter in one folder and put Aliases to it in the other two folders — essentially you have one document in three places (but this is much better than three copies of the same document which wastes hard drive space and can be a mess if you make changes to one of them an forget to update the others.)

How do you know if the file you see listed on your hard drive is an Alias — whether or not the name is in italics is always the key!Netscape Alias

ZMac QuickLaunch

In our holy-grail quest to keep our desktop organized and work time efficient, we have found a nifty piece of freeware from the folks at Ziff-Davis (the publisher's of MacUser) — QuickLaunch. ZMac's QuickLaunch (a MacUser Exclusive) makes your life so much easier by serving as an organized multi-purpose launcher — it keeps an Alias, as an icon, of any applications, folders and documents to which you need easy access right in a concise little palette on the side of your desktop. You don't even have to go up to your Apple Menu anymore. You can even switch between sets of icons in this palette by clicking on convenient tab markers. If you have System 7.6, 7.5, or Apple's Macintosh Drag and Drop software for System 7.1, you can open files by dragging them onto items in QuickLaunch's palette. You won't know how you lived without it!

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