They really do exist !! … well on NTFS partitions anyway. And I never knew, until today. For better or worse, there doesn’t seem to be any native or built-in way to create them with XP. You need to go to Microsoft’s site and download the “junction” tool. (With Vista, it seems a command-line tool is built-in)
There are limitations. The symbolic linking is limited to directories only.
I came across this when searching for a way to share Picasa3 settings among multiple users on the same system. There are 2 users on my home desktop. Mom and me. I know my mother loves to see family pictures, and would like everything organized, but she’s not upto it. And this is where the default Picasa setup fails me.
If you have multiple users on the same system, Picasa keeps separate settings for the both of them. For normal situations, I guess that makes sense. But not in my home. I needed to set things up so that I could do the picture tagging/arranging/organizing from MY account. And my mother would see the results from HER account.
So, with the help of the “junction” tool, I set up symbolic links from the corresponding user directories to a common location. And it works !! (At least, in initial testing so far)
I really wish I knew about this earlier.
For reference these are the 2 blog posts that helped me (also, thanks to the members of ATforums),