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I'd like to create a desktop shortcut to a specific folder, buried deep within ~/Library/. Library is Hidden by default in Lion, and I'd like to keep it that way, for a variety of reasons. Is there a one-step, command line action I can use, to create a desktop shortcut to a given path? I'd like to avoid solutions that involve unhiding the Library, creating the Alias using Finder, and rehiding it. I know how to do that, but for my purposes, a single line that can be pasted into Terminal and be done with it would be preferable.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Try this on Terminal:

cd ~/Desktop
ln -s ~/Library/path/to/folder
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I think you meant ln -s ~/Library/path/to/folder folder. One minor disadvantage to this method (ie symlinking) is that the link will be broken if the "original" (ie the target) is moved or renamed. – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 2:32
The second argument folder is not required. If you omit it, ln creates a link named the same as the original folder. – Boj May 20 '12 at 3:31
Ah, you're right. I got an error before, but I must've mistyped something. – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 3:48
I know what it was - you can't have a trailing slash! – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 3:50
OSX aliases are not symbolic links. See… – bfontaine Jul 1 '15 at 12:06

It's possible to do it in one line of Terminal. Let's say you want to alias to the file "/Users/me/Library/Preferences/org.herf.Flux.plist".

osascript -e 'tell application "Finder"' -e 'make new alias to file (posix file "/Users/me/Library/Preferences/org.herf.Flux.plist") at desktop' -e 'end tell'

You should replace to file with to folder if you have a folder.

Here's a shell script that allows you pass in a file or folder path to create the alias:


if [[ -f "$1" ]]; then
  if [[ -d "$1" ]]; then 
    echo "Invalid path or unsupported type"
    exit 1

osascript <<END_SCRIPT
tell application "Finder"
   make new alias to $type (posix file "$1") at desktop
end tell

If you name this script, chmod u+x and put it in /usr/local/bin, you can run e.g. ~/Library/Preferences.

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Will ~/Library/Preferences/org.herf.Flux.plist" work, or does the username need to be explicitly included in the Terminal command? – LessPop_MoreFizz May 20 '12 at 1:51
I just tried using ~ and it doesn't work with the one-line osascript command. I suggest using the script file instead, because the ~ is converted automatically. – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 1:56
Hmm. Seems to break on filenames with spaces such as /Library/Application Support/ – LessPop_MoreFizz May 20 '12 at 2:13
If you're using the bash script, you should put the filename in single quotes if it has any spaces or special characters. However, this will prevent ~ from being expanded. The best thing is not to use quotes, and to tab complete the filename so bash will properly "escape" the special characters. E.g. type ~/Library/Application then press tab. If Application Support was the only match, the shell should have inserted a backslash before the space. You can also manually use a backslash to escape. – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 2:26
Note that the spaces/special chars problem would exist in any solution - the shell can't know that you meant to pass 1 parameter rather than 2 separate ones. – Kelvin May 20 '12 at 2:35

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