I have a lot of files on an external drive to my new MBP and there's too many of them for the internal 500GB SSD (and no second drive bay to make a fusion drive or have a second drive in latest MBP which is completely crap BTW Apple).

So I need to have my usual Finder shortcuts to directories deep within the data tree. Problem is if my ext drive is ever switched off or disconnected why my MBP is on the shortcuts get removed by Finder and don't come back when drive is reconnected. My usual method of making these shortcuts is just to drag a directory from the Finder file list into the Finder window sidebar. I'm not sure what this actually prompts behind the curtain of OS X as it's opaque (to me at least) as to whether aliases are stored somewhere or symlinks or so other class of object to track the location.

I'm wondering if I can create shortcuts to symlink files on my internal SSD that link to directories on my ext HDD as a work around to this very frustrating obstacle.

1 Answer 1


You don't say how you created the "shortcuts". If you used Finder to make Alias OS X creates a complex (and very large) file. These are probably OK, if you want that kind of thing, but OS X has functionality to locate files if they move, and presumably doesn't show them if not present. (I can't verify this as I don't use Alias, except for software testing, and never to external drives.)

I suggest you create symlinks, which are much smaller,and hang around, even if the target disappears. Unfortunately the only way to create symlinks is with a command, although I have created a Service to run this in Finder.

The following is an script, which I run as an Automator workflow.

for f in "$@"
 fileExists=`ls -d "$f $fileSuffix"`

 until [ $fileExists=="" ]; do
  let fileNumber+=1
  fileSuffix="link $fileNumber"
  fileExists=`ls -d "$f $fileSuffix"`

 echo "$f $fileSuffix"
 ln -s "$f" "$f $fileSuffix"

Automator workflow

  • sorry not making an alias (far as I can tell) just dragging a directory in the Finder Window list view into the window sidebar where Home, Music, Photos etc shortcuts are by default. Aug 28, 2015 at 16:31
  • I've made symlinks and even these get removed from the sidebar from time to time when the ext drive is disconnected, strangely not always and not straight away… perplexing. Aug 18, 2017 at 13:22
  • thanks for the script :-) sorry, @Milliways how do I get the script into Automator, I'm familiar with Applescript but not Automator at all. Aug 18, 2017 at 13:22
  • @wide_eyed_pupil You should be able to find Automator tutorials. Briefly run Automator (from Launchpad or Applications menu), select New Service, select "files or folders" etc as above, then select "Run shell script" and paste the script into the body.
    – Milliways
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:44
  • Okay I did all that, thx. I have the item appear in the Services contextual menu in Finder. When I select a folder and choose the Service I've created nothing happens… no symlink (unless it's invisible), no sidebar item (although what I can make out of the script it wont make a sidebar item of the file/folder). Any ideas why? Aug 19, 2017 at 18:23

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