The file link (short link , English file shortcut or link ) is an application-specific file that to another file or directory references. It can be used to reference another file from any number of locations in the file system . In contrast to hyperlinks on the World Wide Web , file links are usually local; That is, the link and its destinations reside on the same computer or, in most cases, at least in an associated network file system .
File associations were introduced in Windows along with Windows Explorer in Windows 95 . In earlier Windows editions, shortcuts were named with the ending PIF , which were gradually replaced from Windows 95 onwards.
Windows shortcuts have the file extension
.lnk which is hidden in the default setting of Explorer , but can be displayed in a command prompt , for example. File links contain, among other things, the path name of the target file, as well as the option of defining your own keyboard shortcut and another link symbol. In addition to these, other properties such as the window size can be specified.
In contrast to symbolic links (or soft links ) and hard links (or hard links ), file links are not transparent to the calling application and the user because they are not integrated into the file system. This means that the executing program must recognize the link itself, evaluate it and jump to the target.
Other operating systems
The file associations of different operating systems are usually not compatible with each other . Desktop shortcuts from Unix-like systems work just as little under Windows as Windows shortcuts under Linux or Unix . For this reason, file links should not be used if different operating systems share access to network shares ; an alternative can be the use of the symbolic link .
The alias file in macOS and Mac OS Classic is itself a file, but it does not contain the path to the target file, but a file identifier, so the original, unlike the link, can be moved as desired. In addition, there are so-called desktop shortcuts in Unix-like systems , which can usually
.desktopbe recognized by the ending . These desktop shortcuts are text files with a structure similar to INI files . It can describe a path or command , multilingual labels, help texts, icons and other properties (or attributes ) that a desktop environment such as KDE Plasma Workspaces or Gnome can interpret and execute.
- Links: Frequently Asked Questions ( Memento of May 13, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) - Microsoft , 2016; u. a. with an explanation of the question "How can I tell whether a file is a link?" and "Different symbol", under the question "Can a link symbol be changed?"
- Joe: Anatomy of a Desktop File. In: The Linux Critic. April 7, 2010, accessed February 20, 2014 .