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What command is used to create a symbolic link/soft link?

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┌── ln(1) link, ln -- make links
│   ┌── Create a symbolic link.
│   │                         ┌── the path to the intended symlink
│   │                         │   can use . or ~ or other relative paths
│   │                   ┌─────┴────────┐
ln -s /path/to/original /path/to/symlink
              └── the path to the original file/folder
                  can use . or ~ or other relative paths
$ echo content > original
$ ln -s original symlink
$ ls -la original symlink
-rw-r--r--  1 grgarside  staff    8 28 Jan 18:44 original
lrwxr-xr-x  1 grgarside  staff    8 28 Jan 18:44 symlink -> original
$ cat symlink

For more information about ln(1) see the man page.

To create a symlink to replace a system directory (e.g. if you want to have /Users pointing to another disk drive), you need to disable System Integrity Protection. You can re-enable it after the symlink is set up.

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If only man pages were as clear as your answer! – Adrian Lynch Jan 27 at 7:00
permission denied :S can you give me a hint? trying to create symlink for Users so I can use it on other hard disk and ssd has just symlink. thanks – Ewoks Mar 13 at 21:36
@Ewoks /Users is protected by SIP. You can disable System Integrity Protection to set up the symlink (and re-enable it after if you wish). I've added this to the answer. – grgarside Mar 13 at 21:44
You don't need to disable SIP to symlink SIP-protected folders/files, e.g. ln -s /Users /Users/myuser/all-users works perfectly. You only need to disable SIP if you want to create the symlink in a SIP-protected folder (as you would if you wanted to create any other directory entry there). – patrix Mar 13 at 22:51
@patrix I've edited my answer to clarify; feel free to edit further. – grgarside Mar 14 at 7:40

The command is called ln. If used with the option -s it will create a symbolic link in the current directory:

ln -s /any/file/on/the/disk linked-file
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I know this question is explicitly asking about the Terminal, but if you're in GUI Land and don't want to enter Terminal Land, you can use SymbolicLinker. This puts a "Make Symbolic Link" option in your Services menu in Finder.

A context menu for a folder, showing a "Services" submenu, with "Make Symbolic Link" hilighted

A context menu for a symbolic link, with "Make Symbolic Link" hilighted

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I'd love to know why this was downvoted so I can make higher-quality answers from now on :) – Ben C. R. Leggiero Apr 27 at 22:43
probably because the question was "How can I create a symbolic link in Terminal?" But I am not downvoting you :) – vedrano Apr 29 at 14:55
Does this imply that there's simply no way to do this from the Mac Gui without installing software? Also, I can't help thinking that this could have been done with Automator. – Edward Falk May 11 at 14:36
@EdwardFalk as far as I know, there isn't. I was hoping, like windows, dragging while holding Alt or Shift or something would do it, but nope! – Ben C. R. Leggiero May 11 at 15:08

It's just ln -s <source> <destination>.

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Welcome to Ask Different! While you answer is technically correct, we are looking for more than just a simple one line answer. Further explanation or examples is helpful to other users. – Allan Apr 27 at 19:15
Sometimes a quick, simple answer is exactly what's needed. Detailed answers are great, but not when you're just looking for a quick syntax check. – Thomas Higginbotham May 5 at 14:07

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