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Definition: a faster way to access a command without having to pick it from a menu. Shortcuts are often indicated by underlined letters on menus; typing the letter (perhaps while holding down Alt) will take you directly to that menu selection. Some menus also indicate explicit shortcuts (such as Ctrl-S), which you can press at any time, even when that part of the menu is not on the screen. 1. (Macintosh) a copy of a file icon that provides an alternate way of starting an application program or opening a file, folder, or disk. You can place the alias anywhere that’s convenient—the desktop, the Apple menu, or a special folder. The title of an alias icon is in italics and displays a small arrow in the lower left corner of the icon. In Windows, an alias is called a SHORTCUT. 2. (UNIX) an alternative way of typing a command. The alias command creates aliases. For example, if you execute the command alias dir ls -al then from then on, dir will mean ls -al (the complete file listing command).
Source: Downing, Douglas, et al. Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms. 10th ed. New York, 2009. Print.