How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on macOS

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Cover

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 simple: it allows 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. This involves creating an alias of the desired shortcut and then moving it to the desktop (or any other location). In this article we cover two methods to create desktop shortcuts in macOS.

How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on Mac

The first method is the simpler of the two, as it involves using the app’s/folder’s menu to create an alias which you can then move to any desired location on your Mac. To do this:

1. Open up the location of the folder or app you want to create a shortcut for. If this is a folder, you can simply navigate to it using Finder. Similarly, if you want to create a shortcut for an application, you can navigate to the Applications folder from Finder and select the application.

2. Select the folder/app and right-click (secondary-click) it. Click on “Make Alias.”

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Make Alias

3. A shortcut for the folder/app will be immediately created in the same location. Press the Enter key on your keyboard; this will confirm the shortcut with the word “Alias” at the end of the name.

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Alias

4. Simply drag and drop this shortcut to your desktop or dock. You can also copy this shortcut and paste it to your desired location.

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Drag To Desktop

That’s it. You can easily use this desktop shortcut to quickly open a folder or launch an app. You can create as many shortcuts as you would like.

You can also remove the word “alias” from the shortcut name. Just select the shortcut, press the Enter key and name it whatever you would like.

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 folder/application, the shortcut continues to work.

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Show Original

Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Create a Shortcut

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

1. Open the location of the folder or application you want to create a shortcut for.

2. Press and hold the Option + Command keys together. Simultaneously click on the folder or app and drag and drop it on the desktop.

3. This should automatically create the desired shortcut on the desktop.

Desktop Shortcuts Mac Shortcut

Note: sometimes you may unwillingly copy or move the entire folder instead of creating its shortcut. If that’s the case, simply undo the move by pressing Command + Z and follow the procedure again.

If your Mac is running a version prior to macOS Catalina, you can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + L to instantly create an alias in the same location. You can then copy and paste this alias wherever you would like to use it as a shortcut.

Other than creating desktop shortcuts, you can also snap or split screen windows in macOS. Find out how.


Shujaa Imran Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier's resident Mac tutorial writer. He's currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube