When creating a shortcut in windows it makes a .lnk file.

I have researched and it seems these are openable in linux(with some tweaking). Does Linux have an equivalent? If so, whats the extension?

2 Answers 2


Linux doesn't work with file extensions. However, you can make a shortcut on Linux using "symbolic links". They are something like a "pointer" to a file.

Take a look at here to see how to do it:

How do I create a symbolic link?


For example:

ln -s /usr/local/apache/logs ./logs
  • 4
    However, unlike a Windows shortcut, a symbolic link will break when the target file is moved... which is pretty much the principal reason you'd use a shortcut. So strictly speaking a linux symlink is not the equivalent of a Windows shortcut, it's the equivalent of a Windows symlink. Jul 14, 2011 at 19:45
  • 2
    Symlinks are my favorite tool for keeping my files organized. Linux symlinks are kept in sync with the target file no matter what program reads them! Jul 15, 2011 at 0:09
  • @FactorMystic If you make the symlink point to an absolute location in the filesystem, this is not the case. ln -s /usr/local/apache/logs ./logs will make a symlink to /usr/local/apache/logs, and will not be broken when you move it around. Jan 6, 2016 at 21:40
  • The environment maintains the symbolic links in the path, but Windows changes the environment's path for shortcuts. (E.g., if a link targets /tmp and resides in the file /home/user/temp, a symbolic link would access the directory /tmp/upload as /home/user/temp/upload, whereas a shortcut would first change the environment directory to /tmp and then access /tmp/upload directly.) I don't know of any Linux feature that behaves this way.
    – palswim
    Oct 1, 2016 at 23:18
  • @FactorMystic If you move the target of a shortcut, then it will always break. If you move the link (symlink or shortcut), it may break, and this depends on a number of factors. More just the link: symlink with absolute path and shortcut will be fine; symlink with relative path will break. Move link and target together (i.e. whose sub-tree) symlink with absolute path and shortcut will break, symlink with relative path will be fine. [so the comparison is not between symlink and shortcut, but between relative and absolute path.] Oct 20, 2016 at 18:38

Linux has two types of links:

  • .desktop files: created by graphical file managers. They are similar to Windows .lnk shortcuts, minus the automatic updating. They, like shortcuts, only work inside the GUI file manager program.

  • Symbolic links: created with ln -s target link on Linux and mklink link target on Windows. These can be used transparently by any program.

  • 4
    Oh, the superiority of Posix-based systems!
    – Roy Tinker
    Jul 14, 2011 at 17:18
  • @Roy: There's always Plan9.
    – user1686
    Jul 14, 2011 at 17:49
  • That looks interesting, @grawity. I'll check it out. Thanks!
    – Roy Tinker
    Jul 14, 2011 at 17:57
  • 3
    there is the third one, hard link
    – Lie Ryan
    Jul 14, 2011 at 18:41
  • @Lie: Yes, but it's not very widely used as a .lnk alternative due to the limitations.
    – user1686
    Jul 14, 2011 at 19:12

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