The pathalias files contain lines of the form alias=path where path can be one or more colon-separated directories. Whenever a FACE (Framed Access Command Environment, see face(1)) user references a path not beginning with a ``/'', this file is checked. If the first component of the pathname matches the left-hand side of the equals sign, the right-hand side is searched much like $PATH variable in the system. This allows users to reference the folder $HOME/FILECABINET by typing filecabinet.
There is a system-wide pathalias file called $VMSYS/pathalias, and each user can also have local alias file called $HOME/pref/pathalias. Settings in the user alias file override settings in the system-wide file. The system-wide file is shipped with several standard FACE aliases, such as filecabinet, wastebasket, preferences, other_users, etc.
Unlike command keywords, partial matching of a path alias is not permitted, however, path aliases are case insensitive. The name of an alias should be alphabetic, and in no case can it contain special characters like ``/'', ``\'', or ``=''. There is no particular limit on the number of aliases allowed. Alias files are read once, at login, and are held in core until logout. Thus, if an alias file is modified during a session, the change will not take effect until the next session.