Why are alias files so big now? Before (OSX 10.3), they were rarely bigger than 1 KB, but now (OSX 10.7), they're often up to 1.6 MB! Can we do something to keep them small?
As I understand it, an alias is just a pointer or reference to another file. When you open or print it, the operating system actually opens or prints the original file referenced. All that needs to be stored is the directory path to the original file, either (or both) as a full reference or a relative reference, plus its file system ID and perhaps a drive ID (in case it's moved). This should take only a few bytes. On prior Mac operating system versions (e.g., 10.3.9), these alias files were just a few hundred bytes in size, rarely over 1,400 bytes total. But now I notice that, under Mac OS 10.7, newly created alias files are always hundreds of KB large, and can typically be as huge as 1.6 MB! The custom icon only accounts for a fraction of this size. However, sometimes they can still be as small as before (only a few hundred bytes). Old aliases from a prior OS version (usually but not always) still work in opening their original file, so apparently we don't need the extra size. So, what is in these files?! I know these are analogous to "shortcut" files under MS Windows, which are not that large.
Having aliases be so huge defeats the purpose of a small file reference that can be used in multiple other places. One would like to use an alias so as to not have to keep a copy of a large file. But I notice that MB-sized aliases are often created even when the original file is a tiny 1 KB file. Moreover, a larger original file might create a smaller alias than that for a smaller original file, even when both original files are in the same folder. What gives?
I use aliases extensively, so as to keep references to the same original file in multiple folders, since these files fall into the multiple categories that each folder contains. By using aliases, I ensure that there is only a single "master" version that is edited when a file is opened from any of those folders. Many of the original files are pretty small, yet their aliases are many orders of magnitude bigger. This is very discouraging towards using this handy feature. Is there something I am doing wrong to end up making them so big – perhaps a system setting? What is in these files that they need to be so huge?
I suppose I can use Unix symbolic link files by using a command line in Terminal, such as 'ln -s originalfile linkfile', but these are less functional, since you can't move or rename the originalfile without breaking the linkfile's association to it.