Make use of file links in text and word documents

TextEditIconXMany text-handling applications like Word, Mail and TextEdit support features for embedding links, so you can direct someone to another document or resource. In the vast majority of cases, this is used as a pointer to a URL that opens in the default Web browser; however, there are alternative links you can use, where you can open other documents, and reveal them in Finder folders.

To do this, when you create a link and are prompted to enter a URL, you can simply use the “file” protocol instead of hypertext (http) for targeting files and folders on your Mac’s hard drive. For instance, to get your Mac’s global preferences folder you can enter the following for the link:


In addition, you can specify a file in the link, and clicking it will reveal that file in the Finder. One difference here is if the file is of the type created by the current application, in which case it should open directly. For instance, if you have a file on your desktop called “test.txt,” and you embed a file link in another TextEdit document that points to this file, clicking this link will open the file instead of revealing it.

This feature can be used in conjunction with OS X’s services for revealing or opening local files and folders, in that if you are helping someone troubleshoot a problem and are providing instructions to go to a file, then instead of having them navigate a file path you can simply provide a link. The one caveat here is that you will need to specify the full path, and not use shortcuts such as the tilde (~) character to begin the path at the current user’s home folder.

One thought on “Make use of file links in text and word documents

  1. msadesign

    And now for something completely different…thanks, T, that one is really really different. And useful.

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