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A pulley is a simple machine which has a wheel with a grooved rim through which a cord or heavy rope can pass. It is mainly used in wells for lifting water, it is used in lifting heavy weights too. It is also used in hydraulic brakes.
Yes it is actually used to apply the effort in a convenient direction
A pulley is a wheel like structured matter built to help in movement and change of direction of a thing. There is a belt placed around  it to make this possible.
eg: pulleys used in wells.