Making a Symbolic Link or a New Text File from the Finder

I was reading through some instructions on the Dropbox wiki for syncing things outside of the Dropbox folder and ran across a useful system service for Snow Leopard.

Nick Zitzmann’s Symbolic Linker provides a way to create symbolic links from within the Finder. There have been a few times where I found myself wanting to create a symbolic link from outside the Terminal, so I gave it a try. It puts an item in the “Services” sub-menu that appears in the Finder’s application menu, and it also shows up in contextual menus and the “Action” button in the Finder toolbar (the one with the gear icon).

The icon in the Services menu is a bit plain, though.

The original "Make Symbolic Link" service uses a generic application icon

Luckily, it’s open source, so I was able to fork it and add a simple icon modelled after the arrow overlay that the Finder stamps onto aliases and symlinks.

This "Make Symbolic Link" service uses an icon

It won’t win any design awards, but it does the trick.

I opened a pull request, so hopefully he’ll take the change and release a new version, but the project hasn’t been active in a while, so if you’d like to grab this in the meantime, you can download my patched version.

Update, 10 April 2011: Nick has accepted the patch. That was quick! Thanks, NIck.

While on the topic of useful services that are trivial to do in the Terminal but a little annoying when you’ve already got a Finder window open, sometimes I find myself wanting to create an empty text file in a folder that I’ve got open in the Finder. Opening a text editor, then saving the file and having to navigate back to the folder is a little tedious. I went looking for a Finder service that could do this for me, and found an article from Mac OS X Hints that explains how to create one.

Why they didn’t just provide a file to download is beyond me, but if you want to save yourself the effort of going through the instructions, you can download the one I made, also with a custom icon.

Update, 10 April 2011: via Ellen Beldner on Twitter, today I coincidentally discovered cdto, which lets you add a toolbar button to the Finder to open the current window in a terminal. So for all of those other things that are more convenient to do with a quick command line, there you go.

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