How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on macOS

Create Desktop Shortcuts Macos Featured

Whenever you download and install a program or app on a Windows PC, you get the option to create a shortcut on the desktop. The purpose of this shortcut is to give you quick access to the app. Creating a desktop shortcut on macOS is also very easy, but the option to do so is just not that obvious.

You can add shortcuts for folders and apps to either the dock or desktop on your Mac. In this article, we cover a few methods and tips to create desktop shortcuts in macOS.

How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on Mac

The first method is the simplest approach, as it involves using the right-click context menu to create what’s called an “alias.” You can then move it anywhere on your Mac.

To do this, find the file or folder you’d like to make an alias for, then right-click it. In the context menu, click “Make Alias.”

The Make Alias option in the context menu.

Note that you can also find this option in the Finder’s File menu.

Make Alias option in the Finder File menu.

This will create a shortcut in the same location and highlight the filename.

Creating a folder alias.

From here, you can drag and drop the alias to anywhere else on your system, including the Desktop, just like a regular file.

Apps – i.e. the contents of the Applications folder – work in a different way to other files and folders. While you can go through the steps here to create an alias, there’s a quicker approach. Simply drag the app out of the Applications folder, and this will create an alias in the new location.

Creating an app alias.

If you wish to see the original folder at any time, right-click on the shortcut and click on “Show Original.”

Even if you change the location of the original file, folder, or application, the shortcut will still link to it. This is a handy user-focused solution for creating desktop shortcuts on macOS.

Finder’s Visibility Settings for Desktop Shortcuts

You may not know that the Finder also has a way to toggle shortcuts. If you head to “Finder -> Preferences” within the toolbar, you can change a few different settings.

For example, you can choose whether to show hard disks, external drives, and more on the Desktop.

The Finder Preferences screen.

If you switch to the Sidebar tab, you can also customize the list of items you see within a Finder window.

The Sidebar section in Finder preferences.

This gives you a great way to access disks and other folder shortcuts from any Finder window.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Create a Shortcut

The second method to create a desktop shortcut involves the use of keyboard shortcuts.

First, open the location for your folder or application. From there, press and hold the Option + Command keys together, then drag the file, folder, or app to its new location to create the shortcut.

Sometimes you may copy or move the entire folder instead of creating its shortcut. If this happens to you, you’re able to undo the move by pressing Command + Z. From there, you can follow the process again.

Older macOS versions (pre-Catalina) also used the Command + L keyboard shortcut to create an alias in the same location. Of course, you can then move the alias around as you would any other file on your system.

Wrapping Up

Desktop shortcuts are great for curating your most used files, folders, and apps in one place. It’s not the only use, but it’s one that can give you more efficiency and productivity.

While this tutorial only covers how to create desktop shortcuts on macOS, there are many other efficient ways to use your Mac. For example, you can snap or split screen windows in macOS and keep application windows “always on top”.

Are desktop shortcuts something you use, or are they a no-go? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tom Rankin Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

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