LN(1) General Commands Manual LN(1)
link, ln – make links
ln [-Ffhinsv] source_file [link_name]
ln [-Ffhinsv] source_file ... link_dirname
link source_file link_name
The ln utility creates a new directory entry (linked file) which has the
same modes as the original file. It is useful for maintaining multiple
copies of a file in many places at once without using up storage for the
“copies”; instead, a link “points” to the original copy. There are two
types of links; hard links and symbolic links. How a link “points” to a
file is one of the differences between a hard and symbolic link.
The options are as follows:
-F If the proposed link (link_name) already exists and is a directory,
then remove it so that the link may occur. The -F option should be
used with either -f or -i options. If none is specified, -f is
implied. The -F option is a no-op unless -s option is specified.
-h If the link_name or link_dirname is a symbolic link, do not follow
it. This is most useful with the -f option, to replace a symlink
which may point to a directory.
-f If the proposed link (link_name) already exists, then unlink it so
that the link may occur. (The -f option overrides any previous -i
-i Cause ln to write a prompt to standard error if the proposed link
exists. If the response from the standard input begins with the
character ‘y’ or ‘Y’, then unlink the proposed link so that the link
may occur. Otherwise, do not attempt the link. (The -i option
overrides any previous -f options.)
-n Same as -h, for compatibility with other ln implementations.
-s Create a symbolic link.
-v Cause ln to be verbose, showing files as they are processed.
By default, ln makes hard links. A hard link to a file is
indistinguishable from the original directory entry; any changes to a file
are effectively independent of the name used to reference the file. Hard
links may not normally refer to directories and may not span file systems.
A symbolic link contains the name of the file to which it is linked. The
referenced file is used when an open(2) operation is performed on the link.
A stat(2) on a symbolic link will return the linked-to file; an lstat(2)
must be done to obtain information about the link. The readlink(2) call
may be used to read the contents of a symbolic link. Symbolic links may
span file systems and may refer to directories.
Given one or two arguments, ln creates a link to an existing file
source_file. If link_name is given, the link has that name; link_name may
also be a directory in which to place the link; otherwise it is placed in
the current directory. If only the directory is specified, the link will
be made to the last component of source_file.
Given more than two arguments, ln makes links in link_dirname to all the
named source files. The links made will have the same name as the files
being linked to.
When the utility is called as link, exactly two arguments must be supplied,
neither of which may specify a directory. No options may be supplied in
this simple mode of operation, which performs a link(2) operation using the
two passed arguments.
The -h, -i, -n and -v options are non-standard and their use in scripts is
not recommended. They are provided solely for compatibility with other ln
The -F option is FreeBSD extention and should not be used in portable
link(2), lstat(2), readlink(2), stat(2), symlink(2), symlink(7)
The ln utility conforms to IEEE Std 1003.2-1992 (“POSIX.2”).
The simplified link command conforms to Version 2 of the Single UNIX
An ln command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
macOS 12.1 July 12, 2019 macOS 12.1