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Zeus Tech Note
Shortcuts, Icons, PIFs and Aliases

(This page last revised June 17, 1997)

Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.
Written by Bruce A. Epstein

It is often convenient to have a placeholder which refers to a file elsewhere on your system.

On Macintosh, the placeholders is called an alias, and under Windows 95, it is called a shortcut. Windows 3.1 did not support shortcuts, but it did use Program Group Icons to refer to Windows applications, and PIF files to refer to DOS applications. Throughout this technote, the term "shortcut" is often used in the generic sense to refer to these placeholder files. Do not confuse these "pointer files" with the term "keyboard shortcut" which refers to keystrokes that quickly perform an operation without requiring you to use the menu system.

Shortcuts offer the following advantages:

Macintosh Aliases

You can create a Macintosh alias via several methods. The alias is given the same name as the original file with the word "alias" appended, and will appear in italics. If an alias of the same name already exists, "alias n" is appended instead. You can edit the name of the alias as you would edit any other Macintosh file name. To create an alias. To locate the original item pointed to by an alias:
  1. Hilight the alias in the Finder
  2. Choosing "Get Info" from the File Menu (or Command-I).
  3. Hit the "Find Original" button in the File Info dialog box

When using aliases, note:

Windows 95 Shortcuts

You can create a Windows 95 shortcut via several methods. The shortcut is given the name "Shortcut to original file". If a shortcut of the same name already exists, it will be called "Shortcut[2] to original file". You can edit the name of the shortcut as you would edit any other Windows 95 file name. To create a shortcut.

PIF Files (Program Information Files)

When running a DOS program under Windows, you must use a PIF file to launch the executable. The PIF file tells Windows how which application to run, which working directory to set, and defines the appearance and size of the DOS window.

Under Windows 3.1, PIFs are created with the PIF Editor which is an application that should be in the Main or Application Program Group in the Program Manager. If you need more details after consulting the Windows 3.1 manual, please let me know.

Under Windows 95, the PIF editor is no longer used. PIF files are a type of Shortcut, created as follows:
  1. Hilight the DOS executable in the File Explorer window
  2. Select "Properties..." from the File menu
  3. File in the necessary values under the various "tabs" that appear in the Properties dialog box. Most notably, you may need to set the working directory under the "General" tab.
  4. Click OK to save the values you entered

Search for help on the word "PIF" under Windows 95 for more information. (Help is accessible from the Start menu)

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Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.

(This document last revised June 17, 1997)