How to inspect the details of an Alias without changing them, and Precize 1.7

It’s often difficult to examine data in macOS without altering it. This is particularly true of Finder Aliases: merely selecting an Alias in the Open File dialog can cause it to be resolved to generate a QuickLook thumbnail, and that resolution can change the data within the Alias. This short postscript to my articles about Bookmarks and Aliases looks at how you can use a new version of Precize to examine Aliases without changing them.

The new features in this version of Precize which make this possible include separating the analysis of Alias contents from resolving them. There’s also a checkbox to avoid changing the Alias data when resolving it: although this shouldn’t make any difference, as it is working on extracted data from the Alias and not the Alias itself, I offer it as an option.

If you want to inspect the contents of an Alias without changing them:

1. Don’t select that Alias in any Finder Column view. Doing so calls the QuickLook thumbnail of the Alias to be displayed, and that can force its resolution and updating.

2. In Precize, open the Resolver window.


3. Click on the Open file as Base-64 button.


4. Switch the Open File dialog to display items in List format rather than in Columns. This works around QuickLook’s thumbnail display.


5. Select the Alias which you want to examine.

6. Click on the Open button.


The information displayed in the lowest scrolling text view then reflects that at that moment, without any resolution. This particular Alias is broken, linking to a file which no longer exists on that volume. If you were to repeat this process using Column view to generate a QuickLook thumbnail when the linked file was still in the Trash, the data in the Alias would be updated to show that new location for the file.

Version 1.7 of Precize is now available from here: precize17
and in Downloads above.