I realize a bit of why they are so big. Actually, they used to be small enough (around 2kb) and still magical about keeping the file link.

I can also see a few ways to "shorten" it, including one I've been using for a long time already, which is a simple service to create symlinks instead. There's an issue there:

Symlinks are not aliases

  • They break way too easily. An alias can keep linked to the origin most of the times.

  • Some software will treat symlinks differently from Aliases. Here, each one have their use, and eventually I'll use one or another.

  • Not as easy to create as aliases -> use CMD + ALT while dragging n' dropping files!

So, forget symlinks for this question, please!

As for the actual way to shorten it (described on the already linked apple forums) they are way unpractical. First you need to install Shrink Alias with Shortcuts (because the first is unsupported in newer OS X's and the second is a hack to make it available as a Service) and Delete Data Fork workflow. Then manually apply both to each alias. Eventhough you can do it by selecting all files in Finder, again, you still have to do it for each time you create aliases and it's many hacks to keep updated on the next OS'es.

Isn't there a simple Service Workflow, Automator or AppleScript which could do all that automatically whenever I create a new alias, maybe by hooking up on the Alias Manager?

I doubt there is a secret to help with any of this...

How about some other new idea about all this?

  • What is a small alias if not a symlink?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 0:03
  • @Mark symlink is the smallest kind of file link, but it's very different from Alias as you can see from the first 2 bullet points.
    – cregox
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 0:46
  • What is a small alias then?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 1:01
  • 1
    It's as bad as it can be: Those huge alias files do not even use HFS+ filesystem compression, so they really consume storage exorbitantly! I was bothered by this, but thought "Maybe it's not as bad as Finder's 'Get Info' reports and HFS+ compression is activated on those huge aliases in the backend, those icon bitmap resources considerably compressed? Created ~/Desktop/Folder and aliased it to ~/Desktop/Folder-Alias, then ran afsctool -v on them. Total size: Data fork 1.825.604 + resource fork 3.649.830 + xattr 32 overhead 536 + file overhead 5262 = 5.481.264 bytes
    – porg
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 10:59
  • 1
    In macOS 10.12 Sierra the file size of an alias to a file or folder without a custom icon, that is with the default icon of its corresponding file type, is finally again down to a few bytes, about 800-900 Bytes (depending on inode, filename, filepath, and all the relevant alias info encoded into it) . Hurray!
    – porg
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


In High Sierra, the following works: just select the alias and run Finder command "Show Original" (command-R). This trims the alias size down to a minimum. This brought an alias that was previously 24 Mb down to 8 Kb.

  • i dropped out of mac over a year ago. sorry, i've got no idea why this was downvoted... sounds quite reasonable. ;)
    – cregox
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 11:59

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