How to make Sidebar shortcuts for removable drives

How to make persistent shortcuts in the Mac's Sidebar even after unmounting and remounting a drive.

removeable alias mac icon

Glenn Ruga asks:

All of my Sidebar shortcuts go to folders on an external hard drive where I keep all my working files. I use shortcuts to these folders often, but when I disconnect the hard drive to pack up my laptop on the go and reconnect my external hard drive, the shortcuts are gone. Is there any way to save the shortcuts and reinstall them?

Apple treats its Sidebar shortcuts differently than the aliases you can make in the Finder for the desktop. Even though the document describes them as an alias, they’re a different sort of creature, because when you eject a volume on which a Sidebar shortcut exists (whether the drive itself or anything on it), the shortcut disappears instantly from the sidebar.

However, in testing this there’s a super sneaky way around this: Make a Finder alias of the links you want and Command-drag the alias into the Sidebar. Aliases stop working when the destination disappears, but they aren’t deleted. But you must keep the alias active somewhere on a mounted drive, or the Sidebar will delete it.

  1. Make a folder on your startup volume called Sidebar Aliases or the like.
  2. Select an item or items, whether a drive, a folder, or a document, or any combination, from the mounted drive.
  3. Hold down Command-Option and drag the item or items into the Sidebar Aliases folder. The Finder creates links.
  4. Open the Sidebar Aliases folder and Command-drag all of the shortcuts you want.

When you eject the volume, the Sidebar icon may switch from a drive or folder to a generic document icon. If you click it while the volume is ejected, you see the usual alias error dialog—click Cancel to dismiss it.

However, when you remount a drive, the aliases of which are in the Sidebar, you can now click them again and they work just the same as before. Hurray!

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