How to Create a Symbolic Link

Are you tired of searching stuffed directories for files that you’ll only use for a second? If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to give you detailed instructions on how to create symbolic links on your computer.

How to Create a Symbolic Link

After following the steps from this article, you can say goodbye to long, pointless file searches and focus more of your time on things that really matter.

How to Create a Symbolic Link?

Before we dive into details on how to create a symbolic link, we want to make sure you know exactly what it is you’re creating. Let’s say you’ve installed a program that needs to be stored under “C:\Program Files\Program.”

You’d really like to have this program in your “D:\Documents,” but it’s impossible to do so. This is when you add a symbolic link to your “C:\Program Files\Program” file to the “D:\Documents” folder. That way, you save yourself the hassle of juggling across your whole “C:” directory to open up that file.

For most operating systems, you’ll use the ln -s command followed by your source file destination and your symbolic link name.

Below, you’ll find instructions on creating a symbolic link across specific operating systems and programs.

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Windows?

To create a symlink in Windows, you’ll use the mklink command in the Command Prompt. This is an internal command available on Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8, and 10. You can do so by running the Command Prompt as Admin:

  1. Type “Command Prompt” in the Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the icon.
  3. Choose the “Run as Administrator” option.

If you run a Windows 10 Creators Update, you don’t need to access the Command Prompt as Administrator. However, you’ll have to enable the Dev mode beforehand:

  1. Go to the “Settings” page.
  2. Navigate to the “Update & Security” section.
  3. Select “For Developers.”
  4. Make sure the “Developer mode” is on.

Now that you have everything set up, you can go back to the Command Prompt and run the following command:

mklink Link_Name Target_Path.

By invoking this command, you’ll create a symlink pointing to the file Target_Name.

If you want the symbolic link to point to a directory, you’ll add the corresponding letter:

mklink /D Link_Name Target_Path

If some path names contain spaces, you’ll have to put the command in quotation marks:

Mklink /D “C:\My files” “C:\Users\Name\Original\.”

Third-Party Symlink Tools

To create symlinks in Windows, you can also download a third-party tool called Link Shell Extension. This tool lets you make symbolic links by doing the following:

  1. Download and install the tool.
  2. Find the file you want to make a symlink of.
  3. Right-click on it.
  4. Choose the “Pick Link Source” option from the menu.
  5. Right-click in another folder, and hover over the “Drop As” option in the menu.
  6. Select “Symbolic Link.”

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Unix?

To create links between files in Unix, you’ll use the ln command at the Unix prompt. To create a symlink, you’ll add the -s option to the ln command. Your command should look like this:

ln -s Target_File Link_Name

You should replace the Target_File with the name of the file you’re creating a symlink for. You can make symlinks to any files or directories in the file system. Replace Link_Name with your symlink’s name.

Note: Removing or deleting the target file will stop your symlink from functioning correctly.

How to Create a Symbolic Link to a Directory in Linux?

Creating symlinks to a directory in Linux requires the same procedure as creating one to a file. As a first parameter, you’ll invoke your file’s directory name, and as the second parameter, you’ll write your symlink’s name.

For example, you can create a symlink from the /mnt/my_drive/photos directory to the ˜/my_photos directory:

ln -s /mnt/my_drive/photos ˜/my_photos

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Ubuntu?

Creating links between files on all Linux systems, including Ubuntu, runs with the “ln” command. To make a symlink in Ubuntu, run the Terminal and invoke this command with the option -s added next to ln.

Here’s what your command should look like:

sudo ln -s Source_Directory Link_Directory

You should replace “Source_Directory” with the directory of the original file. In the “Link_Directory” parameter, you’ll write your symlink’s name.

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Mac?

The best way to think of symbolic links in Mac is like they’re advanced aliases. They’re different in a way that symlinks work in all Mac applications, including the Terminal. In fact, you’ll be using the Terminal to create symbolic links. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Launch the Terminal by pressing Command + Space, then typing “Terminal.” Alternatively, launch Terminal via Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Run the following command: ln -s /original/path/link/path. You can make a path to a file or to a directory. For example, if you want to make a symlink on your Desktop that will point to your Documents folder, you’d run this command:

ln -s /Users/name/Documents /Users/name/Desktop

If invoked properly, you’ll see a folder called “Documents” appear on your Desktop. It looks like the real folder, but it’s actually its symbolic link. You can open it, and it will have the same content as the original “Documents” folder.

Maybe your path file will contain spaces. For example, if you want to make a symbolic link to a folder called “My pictures,” and you want it to appear in the “My Files” folder, you’d enclose the command in quotation marks:

ln -s “Users/name/My pictures” “/Users/name/My Files/Link”

To make things easier, you can simply drag and drop any folder from the Finder app into the Terminal. It will automatically insert that folder’s path and enclose it in quotation marks if needed.

Third-Party Symlink Tools

You can also create a symbolic link in Finder, but you’ll need a third-party tool to do so. You can install the app called SymbolicLinker that will add the following option in the Finder context menu: Services > Make Symbolic Link.

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Centos 7?

Creating a symbolic link in Centos 7 requires the same command as in other Linux operating systems. You’ll run the ln command followed by -s:

Ln -s Source_Directory Link Directory

You can create symlinks to directories or any files across your filesystem.

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Powershell?

Follow the steps below to create a symlink in Powershell:

  1. Run Powershell as an Administrator.
  2. Copy (or type) this command:
    New-Item -ItemmType -SymbolicLink -Path “Link” -Target “Target”
  3. In the “Link” part, you should type your symbolic link path, including its name and file extension.
  4. In the “Target” part, type the path your new link will refer to.

How to Create a Symbolic Link in Python?

If you use Python, you probably know that the OS module lets you interact with your operating system. You can use the os.symlink() method to create symlinks (dst) that point to their source-destination (src).

This is the syntax:

os.symlink(src, dst)

The src stands for the source, while dst is the destination that didn’t previously exist. You shouldn’t get any return value if the command was successful.

Additional FAQs

Here are some more questions to help you get the most out of this topic.

What Does a Symbolic Link Do?

Symbolic links, commonly known as symlinks, are file system features that create a link to specific files or folders. In a way, they’re similar to a shortcut in Windows or an alias on Mac, except that they’re not actual files. A symbolic link is really an entry in a specific file system that refers to a file or directory.

How to Create Symbolic Links With LN?

Most operating systems will use the ln command to create symbolic links. The way it works is you run your system’s Terminal as an Administrator and run the following command:

ln -s File_Source File_Destination

The ln command makes a hard link by default, so you have to add the -s, which tells it to create a soft link (symlink).

How to Delete a Symbolic Link?

Most of the time, you can remove symlinks just like any other file: move it to the trash bin.

You can remove symlinks in Linux with the “rm” command. Invoke the following command by replacing symbolic_link with your symbolic link’s name: rm symbolic_link_name

If the action was successful, your command will exit as zero and won’t display any output. You can delete more than one symlink. Just pass their names as arguments with a space between each: rm symlinkX symlinkZ symlinkY

You can also use the unlink command. This command will only accept a single argument, so you have to delete one link after another. Just run the following command: unlink symbolic_link_name

You should receive no output if the command was successful.

To delete symlinks in Windows, use the rmdir command.

On Mac, other than moving the file to the trashbin, you can delete it by using the rm command. Just run this command along with the symlink path: rm /link/path

What Is the Command to Create a Symbolic Link?

Most operating systems use the ln command to create symbolic links. The way it works is you run your system’s Terminal as an Administrator and run the following command:

ln -s File_Source File_Destination

The ln command makes a hard link by default, so you have to add the -s, which tells it to create a soft link (symlink).

Enhancing Your File Navigation Experience

Knowing how to create symbolic links of specific file directories can be a real-time saver. Better yet, it keeps your files safely stored in their original destination, so nothing gets messed up by moving the files around. When you don’t need a specific symbolic link anymore, you can easily delete it just like you would any other file.

What files do you find it most useful to create symbolic links to? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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