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Author Topic: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!  (Read 8846 times)

Hirudin

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Symbolic Links are something that I just found out about, but so far I think they're awesome!

From what I can tell, they transparently link a virtual file or folder with a "real"(?) file or folder and that's about it.
Screenshot - 5_10_2007 , 2_15_28 AM.png

A little backstory, I'll try to keep it short...
I've finally switched away from TheBat! (god that program was driving me nuts!) and have started using Thunderbird for my e-mailing. What I've done is created a TrueCrypt volume to store all my mail, call me paranoid... whatever. I mount the volume before I open Thunderbird, do my mailing as needed, close thunderbird, then unmount the TC volume. This way all my mail is encrypted while not in use and is safe from prying eyes (I don't want people reading my eBay bid confirmations and dirty joke forwards from my neighbor). But, I then realized that my profile isn't being encrypted, so my address book, account settings, and passwords were all either unencrypted, or didn't require a password to decrypt. That seemed a little dumb to me (what's the expression? Something along the lines of "don't guard the front door if the back door is open"...).

Along comes Symbolic Links to save the day:
All I gots ta do is find my profile folder (which in my case was in: C:\Users\<my account>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles), copy it to my encrypted virtual drive, then create a symbolic folder link with the same name as my profile folder and link it to the copied folder in my TC volume.
It probably took about 2 minutes once I started, and now my whole Thunderbird profile is encrypted and Thunderbird is none the wiser.

I could probably come up with at least 5 more very useful uses for these right off the top of my head (especially when combined with TrueCrypt volumes)!
What the heck, I'll give it a try:
1. Don't stop with e-mail, encrypt your Firefox profile too
2. Move your "Documents" folder off the C: drive to a flash drive, then encrypt it! Make a new "Documents" folder link in your user folder.
3. Hmmm... Use a laptop and a desktop? Link the Documents/e-mail/bookmarks of each one to the same actual files on a networked drive. No more syncing! You always access the current files/settings.
4. Instead of audio/video playlists, make huge/multiple lists of symbolic links, Winamp will think you're playing a single folder... encrypt them too! (just kidding) -- this would be great for home-made compilation CDs! Store them on your computer without taking up more room.
5. Keep one "dictionary" or "thesaurus" file across multiple programs (this would require some kind of standard dictionary format, which I doubt exists right now). No longer would you have to click "Add To Dictionary" on EVERY new program you type your last name into...

There's tons of possibilities! I must admit I actually had trouble coming up with 5 useful and unique ideas for my list though.

justice

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2007, 03:37:14 AM »
How do I make a symbolic link? edit: ah great when I answer my own question  8)
Quote
C:\>mklink
Creates a symbolic link.

MKLINK [[/D] | [/H] | [/J]] Link Target

        /D      Creates a directory symbolic link.  Default is a file
                symbolic link.
        /H      Creates a hard link instead of a symbolic link.
        /J      Creates a Directory Junction.
        Link    specifies the new symbolic link name.
        Target  specifies the path (relative or absolute) that the new link
                refers to.
https://blogs.msdn.c...06/04/15/576568.aspx

Would be good if there was an easier way, maybe via a context menu item or wizard hmm.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 03:43:53 AM by justice »

Hirudin

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2007, 03:49:01 AM »
Yeah... but it's so easy to make one (I mean, currently the hardest part is typing the path) I'm sure it would be super easy to make buttons and toolbars and stuff. I bet someone could make one for Directory Opus using only the button editor.
[edit]Took out stuff about DO and size reporting...[/edit]
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 04:00:42 AM by Hirudin »

MrCrispy

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2007, 04:10:57 AM »
And once again, Windows Explorer does not expose all the neat features that the OS and NTFS is capable of. Symlinks are new, but I'm talking about hard links, junctions, reparse points and all the other cool stuff thats been in NTFS since the beginning. This is why we needed all the sysinternal and resource kit cmd line tools. If only the Windows GUI had bothered, imagine how much nicer the user experience and tools could have been.

Hirudin

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2007, 04:54:45 AM »
...
hard links, junctions, reparse points
...
What are all those? I've (now) seen them mentioned, but can you give us a dumbed-down explanation?

tomos

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2007, 08:08:45 AM »
a hard link of a file should clone your file
change one, both should change.

There's a few threads about it here

soft and hard links in ntfs
keeping/saving cloned files

unfortunately it doesnt work on my machine for some reason  :(
Tom

Cynic

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2007, 02:16:46 PM »
Would be good if there was an easier way, maybe via a context menu item or wizard hmm.
Perhaps this helps, it's been mentioned in other threads in the forum:
http://schinagl.priv...ardlinkshellext.html

Hirudin

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2007, 06:50:59 PM »
I suggest we move the discussion on this to the "soft and hard links in ntfs" thread (linked above as well).
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 06:52:45 PM by Hirudin »

mitzevo

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2007, 10:58:48 PM »
yeap, hardlinks and related are really nice.. especially when moving around directories and stuff.. makes organizing easier.

for example i use D:\Desktop for my desktop files, so i create a file C:\Documents and Settings\mitzevo\Desktop to be a symlink to D:\desktop instead of changing the paths via the registry, etc.

I kinda agree about ms not making these features obvious, but then again only people who know what they are doing should have easy access to features like this.
The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

Dirhael

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2007, 04:28:05 AM »
Yeah... but it's so easy to make one (I mean, currently the hardest part is typing the path) I'm sure it would be super easy to make buttons and toolbars and stuff. I bet someone could make one for Directory Opus using only the button editor.
[edit]Took out stuff about DO and size reporting...[/edit]

Dopus already has support for creating symbolic/hard/soft links and junction points. What I've done is to go to "Settings -> File types", double click on "All files and folders", open the "Drop menu" tab and press new. Type a appropiate name for the action (I've named mine "Create special link(s) here...") and paste the following into the text area:
Copy MAKELINK=auto

Now you can create symlinks by a simple right-click drag-n-drop with and file or folder. About as easy as it can get :)
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

tomos

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2007, 05:37:11 AM »
Yeah... but it's so easy to make one (I mean, currently the hardest part is typing the path) I'm sure it would be super easy to make buttons and toolbars and stuff. I bet someone could make one for Directory Opus using only the button editor.
[edit]Took out stuff about DO and size reporting...[/edit]

Dopus already has support for creating symbolic/hard/soft links and junction points. What I've done is to go to "Settings -> File types", double click on "All files and folders", open the "Drop menu" tab and press new. Type a appropiate name for the action (I've named mine "Create special link(s) here...") and paste the following into the text area:
Copy MAKELINK=auto

Now you can create symlinks by a simple right-click drag-n-drop with and file or folder. About as easy as it can get :)


I presume thats only with Opus 9 on Vista?
Tom

Dirhael

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Re: Symbolic Links in Vista - Like a playlist, but for anything!
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2007, 06:01:04 AM »
Yeah... but it's so easy to make one (I mean, currently the hardest part is typing the path) I'm sure it would be super easy to make buttons and toolbars and stuff. I bet someone could make one for Directory Opus using only the button editor.
[edit]Took out stuff about DO and size reporting...[/edit]

Dopus already has support for creating symbolic/hard/soft links and junction points. What I've done is to go to "Settings -> File types", double click on "All files and folders", open the "Drop menu" tab and press new. Type a appropiate name for the action (I've named mine "Create special link(s) here...") and paste the following into the text area:
Copy MAKELINK=auto

Now you can create symlinks by a simple right-click drag-n-drop with and file or folder. About as easy as it can get :)


I presume thats only with Opus 9 on Vista?

Well, I wouldn't know if it works on Dopus 8 as I only have 9 installed right now, but I do know that you can create junctions and hardlinks in both XP and Vista (and possibly Win2000) with v9. Not sure about symlinks though (I think that's Vista only), and of course XP have no way of tracking junctions etc. but otherwise it does work.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.