Using KBM, is it possible to create robust filename and directory independent File Links?

Applications like Hook ( a link manager) create robust file links. You can change the directory name, the filename etc and the link will not break. I use Hook many times a day and it works flawlessly. The downside is that my links are hook proprietary and if they go out of business I am cooked.

As far as I understand, all KBM file macros as well as unix and url file paths break when the name of the file or the is changed. The fact that Hook links work means that the possibility exists of some kind of unique file UUID akin to Bear or Evernote note UUIDs. You can move Bear or Evernote notes around and links to those notes still work.

I can't understand why, in this day and age, this is not the standard for file links, which assume that the general file/folder configuration will remain static until the end of times.

thanks in advance for your feedbacks

1 Like

Won't the same caveat apply if Keyboard Maestro implement this and they go bust (i hope they never do)

1 Like

good point !

Your wish is Apple's command: macOS presents: The File Alias

In Mac OS X, an alias is a pointer file that allows you to quickly open the files, folders, servers, or applications used most often. When you double-click an alias, the operating system finds the file it references and opens it. An alias can be distinguished by its icon, which has an arrow in the bottom left corner. Normally, an alias will remain functional until the original item is deleted, ==even if the original has been moved or renamed.==


I understand. The issue that I should have mentioned is that I read that Dropbox does not support aliases / symbolic links which scared me away. That being said I never understood what does not support mean. How can an app that syncs files not support an alias ?

You would need to test this to confirm, but I believe that what DB means is that when using their Web interface, opening an Mac alias file will NOT link to its source because DB is NOT connected to your Mac to get the data.

However, I believe you can safely store and use aliases within the Dropbox folder on your mac. However, if you sync with another Mac, the 2nd Mac may NOT find the source file, for the same reason.

Best thing is to just do some testing for yourself so you will know exactly what works and what does not work.

1 Like

very good point !! will ask them about upgrading what would happen if I upgrade my computer. Your comment is extremely useful. It allows me to ask a more pointed question.

Dropbox Help: How to Use Symlinks With Dropbox

As of mid-2019, Dropbox no longer follows items outside of your Dropbox account that are linked to by a symlink.

There's a bunch more information in the full document. The short version is simply not to use aliases or symlinks with Dropbox.

My read of that document is that it says the same thing I said above:

Here is an example I use all the time, and it works fine on my Mac.
But it does NOT work on the Dropbox web site.


1 Like

There's more to consider than not seeing the source files in the Dropbox web interface. The discontinued support of symlinks means source files won't be seen on other devices, like a phone or tablet. Prior to the mid-2019 change, symlinks did work and files connected to Dropbox in this manner were accessible across devices and platforms.

now it's clear. thank you very much.

@JMichaelTX @NaOH @prashant

I want to thank you all for your comments.

As I often do, I did not express myself clearly. Hook is not similar to an alias:

Hood allows for the creation of robust BIDIRECTIONAL links similar to those used in Zettelkasten type apps, which is a new way of thinking, and I find very useful. I feel I did them a disservice by portraying Hook links as just another alias. In addition, links can be bundled and easily navigated. I am slowly learning to work and think with bidirectional links and it is quite an evolution. The only equivalent that I know of are Scrivener inspector bookmarks but only work within the current file

In addition Hook links can be bundled: if you are working on a project, this allows you to quickly navigate from one item (of any kind file, evernote note, etc....) to the other.

And finally Hook links are robust: they stil work if you change the file name or directory. Some say that they use UNIX inodes which are unique to each file.

1 Like

@ronald, I think we discussed this elsewhere, but while "Zettelkasten" has had recent popularity, the actual method is very old. I have not studied the above link extensively, but I believe I have been largely using this method with Evernote for at least 5 years now, simply by doing the following:

  1. Capture the details of a some notion about a subject in an EN Note, which automatically has an unique ID and link.
    • This is a usually a small amount of text, < 1 page.
    • It is not intended to be the complete treatment of the subject.
  2. If it is from an external source, capture the basic source ref info:
    (which is all done automatically by a Macro and the EN Web Clipper)
    • Title
    • Internet Link
    • author
    • source date
    • clipped date
    • Unfortunately Evernote does NOT provide or allow for custom fields, so all of this ref info, except the link and source date, are just stored a simple text in the Note, but in a specific format at the top of the Note.
  3. If I have related En Notes, then I add a section at the top of each Note labeled "Also See:", and provide the EN Note Title/link
    • It is easy to create a link to another Note from within a given Note, but doing do does NOT auto generate the backlink in the other Note. I have to add that manually, but I still end up with both Notes having a link to one another
    • I might do this by running an EN search, then selecting multiple related Notes, and choose "copy link". Then paste back in the original note.
  4. I make extensive use of EN Tags at both the broad level, and at more constrained category level.

The interesting, and new, thing to me is the auto-creation of bidirectional links by the Hook app. It would be great if that were built in to Evernote.

Sorry I went on for so long, which is really off-topic to this topic. Let me know if you'd like me to move it to your other forum topic.


Sounds like this topic has a satisfactory answer, so I will keep it brief, and just add my 2c about a couple of issues. Disclosure: I'm a co-founder of the developer of Hook (CogSci Apps).

That's partly addressed on Hook's Openness page now, which consolidates a bunch of info from the website, but could still be extended. (FWIW: I am also an academic and writer. One of the reasons we built Hook was that I was fed up with relying on aliases and a collection of productivity hacks. And all my R&D in last few years have been indexed with Hook, so all the link data needs to survive in a useable form for me too; and we have a succession & disaster plan, some of which we should publish.)

there are many issues around that, some of which are already treated in this topic. I would add amongst other things:

  1. If you want to share a link to Dropbox with someone else (or yourself for that matter), you need to use a universal (dropbox://) link that gets routed through the web. Tedious IMHO. Hook enables you to create heuristic hook://file URLs (and formatted links with them). (Can also be used for revealing checked out files in a version control system, or files that live in well known places.) Of course, the recipient needs to have Hook installed (the free Lite version will do).
  2. Also, aliases and symlinks that point to files in a Dropbox that move around while that folder is not currently synced will be useless (ditto for aliases / symlinks to VCS file).
  3. referencing files that move while currently synced in the macOS account that has a reference to the file is a problem, because what the user considers to be "the same file" is often not often the same file as far as Dropbox is concerned.

Hook handles 1 and 2, but its hook://file links do not yet satisfactorily address #3, because Dropbox does unorthodox things when the user moves (including renames) files as discussed here on the Hook site. (I'm optimistic that hook://file handler's will be able to work-around even that in the future; but that remains to be proven.) Meanwhile, one can use hook://search links to indirectly reference any Spotlight-indexed file, including Dropbox files that move around. Those are links that can trigger an arbitrary Spotlight search. I often use them. That's partly why Hook has a little ID generator.

One of the ways in which Hook enhances aliases is to enable users to reference files with a URL ( hook://file). You can put them in a .hook file. Unlike aliases, .hook files are plain text (editable), and you can put any URL (not just hook://file URLs) or markdown links in them. So they are more general than aliases and weblocs, and lots of fun :blush: . (cf. Make Hook File – Hook).

I don't mean this to be an 'ad' for Hook, nor to suggest that one should drop aliases in favor of .hook files; it's just a bit of a response to the above.


this discussion may interest @hello

I think that there is a misunderstanding.

IMO, we are not off topic because I want to sensitize @peternlewis to the issue of bidirectional links and project specific collections of links (ie a 'Link browser') for future KBM upgrades, perhaps adding actions that specifically integrate with Hook. It's the future IMO.

In your reply, you are basically referring to the conventional way of managing data or information with Evernote. The brilliant @LucCogZest has IMO brought computing to a whole new level. It's not a question of better mousetrap. We are not asking 'which is better...'. In the end, it's not only about inserting links in a note or document (which you can obviously easily do with Hook), it's about creating a project specific collection of links which you can navigate with a 'Link browser' which is one of the functions of Hook. The power of Hook bidirectional links and link browser is orders of magnitude above our conventional use of links and bookmarks.

Yet another way of saying it is that in your description, the Evernote note remains the central document, the core of your project, and it is this notion of centrality which I have come to question. I am evolving towards the concept of a collection of links being the center of the project.

My insight (and @LucCogZest should correct me if I am wrong) is that @LucCogZest is not a programmer who developed yet another app. He spent years in cognitive sciences, developed a new way of thinking and then created an app.

For my purposes, it's more of a cognitive revolution than yet another app.

Scrivener for example, a very sophisticated app, is slowly coming to embrace bidirectional links and browsing links (via the inspector → bookmarks) but the bidirectionality is limited to internal Scrivener documents.

@LucCogZest should correct me. I don't know him and can't speak for him.

1 Like

I may not understand your notion correctly.
But I can have one EN Note, which is nothing but links.
OTOH, I can effectively get a "collection of links" by using a tag filter -- the Note list is my collection of links.

By the way, have you use the EN Filter by Tag by clicking on a Tag in a Note?
Doesn't this bring up a collection of links in the form of a filtered Note list?

No doubt that Hook is a better mousetrap for managing links. But I don't see it or "Zettelkasten" as being a revolutionary way of thinking. Perhaps it has distilled and cognified the method that others have used for a while.

So, sorry if I have completely missed your point. If so, please explain how you see a "collection of links" working that is different from my notion above.

1 Like

Yes, a collection of links to evernote notes which can in turn contain links outside evernote. It's true.

If you filter tag → go to web site or PF file or Pages document pertaining to your project, how are you going to find your way back ?. Or how are you going to then go from your web site directly to a pathfinder folder ? it's the question of centrality. Evernote is a hub. Yes your system works with a lot of clicking. With Hook there is no hub, just like the Internet does not have a hub. @LucCogZest can correct me.

basically all I am saying is that it changed my way of working and thinking, which does not happen often.

1 Like

Well, I think both have hubs.


On macOS, Hook is a tool you can use to connect all the parts of a project together: documents, notes, emails, web pages, and even to-do items in your favorite task manager. ==It does this by using file system bookmarks and a database== to create links between these items.

So, I would call the Hook database its hub.

The Internet's "hub" is a distributed "database" called "Domain Name Servers".
These DNS basically contain the name of every Server connected to the Internet, and its IP address.

BTW, to be clear, I am not arguing against using Hook -- I think it is great, and I plan on using it. My only point is that the concept behind Hook is not new, but their implementation is very new and on the cutting edge. Hook makes all of the manual steps I have to do in Evernote automatic.


I totally agree