How do I copy files?

Below are the steps required to copy computer files from one source to another in each of the major operating systems. Click on one of the links below to scroll down automatically to the operating system you need help with, or scroll down to review them all.

Microsoft Windows users
MS-DOS and Windows command line users
Linux and Unix users

Microsoft Windows users

Below are the simple steps on how to copy a file or multiple files in Microsoft Windows from one location to another.

  1. Go to the files or folders you want to copy. If you need help locating the files use the Windows find feature.
  2. Highlight the file or files you want to copy. If you need to highlight more than one file, you can hold down the CTRL or Shift keys on your keyboard or drag a box around the files you want to copy.
  3. Once highlighted, you can either right-click one of the highlighted files and select copy, use the CTRL + C shortcut key, or in Windows Explorer click Edit at the top of the window and choose Copy.
  4. Move to the location you want to copy the files to and either right-click in the folder and choose paste or click Edit from the File Menu and then click Paste.

In addition to copying files through Windows, you can also use the Windows command line to copy files. In some situations, such as copying multiple files of a certain extension or with a certain name, it can be a lot easier.

MS-DOS and Windows command line users

Below are steps on how to copy a single file from one directory to another directory as well as how to copy multiple files from one directory to another directory.

Copying a single file from one location to another

  1. Using the cd command, move to the directory that contains the file you want to copy.
  2. Type a command similar to the below command.

copy myfile.txt c:\my\location

In the above example, you would substitute "myfile.txt" with the name of the file you want to copy, and "c:\my\location" with the directory you're copying to.

Copying multiple files to another location

  1. Using the cd command, move to the directory that contains the files you want to copy.
  2. Once in the directory that contains the files you want to copy, type a command similar to one of the below commands.

copy *.* c:\mydir

In the above example, the command would copy every file in the current directory to the "mydir" directory.

copy *.txt c:\mydir

In the above example, the command would copy every txt, or text file, in the current directory into the "mydir" directory.

Tip: Additional examples of wildcard characters can be found on our wildcard definition.

xcopy hope example /e

If you need to copy files, directories, and subdirectories use the xcopy command. In the above example this xcopy command copies all directories (even empty directories) and files from the hope directory into the example directory.

See the cd command, dir command, copy command, and xcopy command pages for further information about each of these MS-DOS commands.

Linux and Unix users

Below are steps on how to copy a single file from one directory to another directory as well as how to copy multiple files from one directory to another directory.

Copying a single file from one location to another.

  1. Using the cd command, move to the directory that contains the file you want to copy.
  2. Type a command similar to the below command.

cp myfile.txt /usr/bin

In the above example, you would substitute "myfile.txt" with the name of the file you want to copy, and "/usr/bin" with the directory you're copying to.

Copying multiple files to another location

  1. Using the cd command, move to the directory that contains the files you want to copy.
  2. Once in the directory that contains the files you want to copy, type a command similar to one of the below commands.

cp *.* /usr/bin

In the above example, the command would copy every file in the current directory to the "/usr/bin" directory.

cp *.txt /usr/bin

In the above example, the command would copy every txt, or text file, in the current directory into the "/usr/bin" directory.

Additional examples of wildcard characters can be found on our wildcard definition.

See the cd command, cp command, and ls command pages for additional information about each of these commands.

Additional information