How to Create Desktop Shortcuts on a Mac

Open your favorite files and folders quickly with desktop shortcuts.

What to Know

  • Go to the Menu > File > Make Alias.
  • Right-click (or Control + Click) on the file and select Make Alias from the menu. 
  • For a website shortcut, highlight the URL and drag and drop it from the address bar to the desktop.

This article provides instructions for creating desktop shortcuts on a Mac computer for files, folders, and websites.

How to Create Desktop Shortcuts for Files and Folders on a Mac

A shortcut is a quick way to access files, folders, applications, and disks you use the most. Shortcuts are used to save you from digging into the depths of your folders.

The term “desktop shortcut” is a more familiar term to Windows users. Apple introduced the “alias” to serve as a shortcut before Microsoft with the launch of the Mac OS 7 in 1991. An alias is a tiny file with the same icon as the parent file it links to. You can personalize the appearance of this icon like any other icon on the desktop.

  1. Select the Finder icon which is the leftmost icon on the Dock.

    Select Finder on macOS
  2. Use the Finder to locate the folder, file, or application you'd like to create a shortcut for on the left side of the window.

  3. Select the file or folder to highlight it.

  4. Use any of the three methods mentioned below to make an alias for the file, folder, or application. A shortcut for the file is created in the same location. 

  5. Go to the Menu bar. Select File > Make Alias.

    Make an alias from the File menu in macOS
  6. Right-click on the file and select Make Alias from the menu. 

    Right-Click on Folder to make alias on macOS
  7. Press Option + Command together as you drag the original item to another folder or the desktop. Release the shortcut first and then the Option + Command keys to place the shortcut in the new location.

  8. Select the shortcut with the "Alias" suffix. Press Enter to rename it by removing the “Alias” suffix. 

  9. Drag the alias file to the desktop if it's in any other location. You can also copy and paste this to any location on the Mac. 


Every shortcut has a small arrow on the bottom left corner. Shortcuts continue to work even if you change the location of the original file or folder. To view the location, right-click on the shortcut and select Show Original.

How Do You Add a Website to Your Home Screen on a Mac?

A website shortcut can help you quickly launch a site without digging through bookmarks or typing the URL in the address bar. 

  1. Open any browser and select the URL in the address bar. 

  2. Resize the browser window to position the computer's desktop and the browser window on the same screen.

  3. Drag and drop the highlighted URL from the address bar to the desktop or any location on the Mac. It is saved as a shortcut file with the WEBLOC file extension and takes the site page's name.

    Website shortcut on macOS

You can add the website shortcut to the Dock too. Drag the URL from the address bar to the right-hand side of the Dock.


You can create as many shortcuts as you want. But they can clutter the desktop too. So, delete unwanted shortcuts by dragging them to the Trash icon on the Dock or right-click on the alias and select Move to Trash.

  • How do I create a keyboard shortcut on my Mac?

    You can create custom keyboard shortcuts for any existing menu commands in apps. Select System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts > Plus sign (+) to add a new shortcut. Select the app from the Application drop-down menu, type the exact menu command name, and click Add. To apply a shortcut that works in multiple apps, select All Applications.

  • How do I create a shortcut to a specific Chrome user on a Mac?

    Create a keyboard shortcut from System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts Plus sign (+). Choose Chrome from Applications, enter the user's name (from the Chrome Profiles menu), and assign a custom keyboard combination.

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