Checking for broken Aliases using Alifix

Many of us have old Finder Aliases, perhaps inherited from previous Macs, which are now broken. There comes the day when you want to use one of them, and you’re out of luck: it now points to nowhere.

At the instigation of Thomas Tempelmann, I now offer you a free tool to check and refresh your Finder Aliases: Alifix. Those which it finds are now broken beyond automatic repair it lists, and if you want it will save an adjacent text file in which all the internal data from the Alias is decoded and displayed, so you can decide what to do with it. In this first beta release, this app doesn’t offer to remove those broken aliases.

If you’re going to copy or clone a disk, volume, or just a large folder within it, it’s valuable to refresh all its Aliases before doing so, to ensure that they contain the latest information about the location of linked items, and to scan the copy or clone afterwards to clean up any Aliases which have become broken. It’s also a valuable part of periodic disk housekeeping. These tasks are now simple and relatively quick using Alifix.

This version should run on Sierra and later, although I have only been able to test on Mojave. Because the format of Aliases changed with Sierra, it isn’t likely to be suitable for El Capitan in the future, and I wouldn’t recommend using it on 10.12 or 10.12.1, before the new Aliases settled down.

alifix005

It performs deep traversal of the folder you select, then tests each item it finds by looking at its UTI. This isn’t the quickest, but seems the most thorough and reliable. Although it should be able to scan whole boot volumes, doing so would take a long time and plenty of memory. It is better to select top-level folders and your Home folder, for example.

To give you a feel for likely frequencies of Aliases, here are my own results:

  • In my Home folder ~/ there are 138 broken Aliases of a total of 161;
  • In /Applications there are 12 broken of 17;
  • In /Library there are 14 broken of 15, and none at all in /System.

In developing this, I stumbled into what looks to be an old bug, where a very small number of files don’t return UTIs. That should be handled gracefully by Alifix.

I particularly welcome reports of it on Sierra and High Sierra systems, please.

This initial version doesn’t remove any broken Aliases. If it seems reliable in use, I intend adding an option to remove them. Another possibility would be to move all the broken Aliases to a folder from which you could delete them. I welcome your preferences as to which Alifix should do.

Alifix version 1.0b1 is available from here: alifix10b1
and from Downloads above.