edit: I'm working on Windows 7, and currently using Link Shell.
I'm currently working at my local college, and I'm trying to see if I can use symlinks to potentially solve some issues. Mainly, I'd like to get around distributing documents, because every time a document gets copied, there's a chance it won't get updated if something changes. Google Docs, or even OneDrive, would be perfect for this, but the school doesn't want to use cloud storage, and setting up a local OneDrive server would be too big a project to quickly implement.
I've been looking into using symbolic links. The idea is, instead of emailing someone a spreadsheet, you send them a link to a spreadsheet on a shared drive. They can use it like normal, saving it or doing whatever they do with it, only they're moving a link around; if something changes and I need to update the content on the spreadsheet, the link sends them to the current version of the document, so I don't need to worry about re-distributing it every time there's a change, and risk someone not replacing their old file with the new one.
I downloaded Link Shell and it seems to be working perfectly. The only issue I'm running into is that I can't seem to email the symlink. Attaching it to an email attaches the actual file instead of the symlink. I can move the link around no problem locally, but as soon as I send it to someone, it drops the actual file in.
Is there a way to copy/distribute symbolic links? I've been trying to google it, but I'm having trouble finding results that answer my question. Ideally, I'd like to be able to email the symlink itself, and not have the symlink insert the file into the email.
Symlinks are a filesystem-level feature. Instead of copying the file to a second directory, it gives programs access to the original file instead. From the point of view of a program, it's the same thing as the original file. If the program can copy or download it, it can still do that even with a symlink.
Even then, it's the same as sending a plain old SMB link, such as //COMPUTER-NAME-HERE/drive_c/dos/dosbox/tyrian/manual/0/.tmp/error/5/20_JessicaAlba.jpg. This way, the users will open the original file and your version of Office might or might not handle editing that, I think only the Business versions could.