Is it possible to get something like a symbolic link/alias to direct to another folder on an external hard drive and still have the files display on the desktop?

I used:

sudo rm -rf ~/Desktop
sudo ln -s /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop ~/Desktop

But the Desktop is just blank, and when I drag files onto the Desktop, they disappear and are copied to /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop

I recently tried replacing the Desktop with an alias instead, but I now only get a cancel icon popping up next to the cursor when I drag a file over it. The partition is exFat so it's compatible with my tri-boot. I'm doing this so files are automatically available on each Desktop.

Any ideas to get this working?

I was also thinking about an alternative, something that automatically moved a file to /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop/<file_name> when it was dragged to ~/Desktop and replaced with a symbolic link or alias on ~/Desktop. Is that a viable alternative?


You can create a folder hard link using coreutils. Remove the symlink you created and install Homebrew if you don't already have it, then brew install coreutils and use:

sudo gln /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop ~/Desktop

(Be careful with removing hard links, since the destination will be deleted if you delete normally. To delete a hard link, use unlink ~/Desktop.)

  • I just tried that and got: gln: /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop: hard link not allowed for directory – Ocwa Apr 30 '17 at 4:52

I figured it out, using bindfs, I believe you need to install OSXFUSE:

  1. brew install bindfs (if you have homebrew installed - easy way) (or you can build it from source - slightly harder)
  2. cp -R ~/Desktop/ /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop/ To move all files from your local Desktop to the partition's Desktop folder.
  3. rm -rf ~/Desktop && mkdir ~/Desktop Will delete and create new Desktop folder.
  4. bindfs /Volumes/<partition_label>/Desktop ~/Desktop Mounts the Desktop folder on the partition to your Desktop folder.

Note that with this method, all items that are dragged from your system partition to the Desktop are copied-not moved-and that if you delete any files from within the mounted file system, they are not sent to the trash, rather they are permanently deleted.

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