How to select or highlight multiple files and folders

When working with Microsoft Windows (or any GUI operating system), you may need to select multiple files to copy, delete, or move them. The following sections detail the different methods of selecting multiple files in a GUI operating system.

Select all the files in the current directory
Mouse drag and select multiple files
Select multiple files that are grouped together
Select multiple files that are not grouped together
How to select without using the mouse
Other tips

Select all the files in the current directory

Select all with shortcut keys

With most operating systems and software programs, the shortcut key Ctrl + A selects all files or text.

Select all using menus

  1. Open a folder or directory in Explorer or My Computer.
  2. Click Edit in the menu bar at the top of the window.
  3. Click Select All on the drop-down menu.

Drag and select filesDrag and select multiple files

Clicking and dragging a box around the files you want to select will select all files within that box, as shown in the animated picture to the right.

To do this, click and hold your left mouse button on the top left portion of where you want to start highlighting and then drag the box until the last file has been highlighted. Once the files have been selected, they can be copied, cut, or dragged to another window, or they can be deleted.

Select multiple files grouped together

  1. Click the first file, and then press and hold the Shift key.
  2. While holding Shift, click the last file.

Select multiple files that are not grouped together

  1. Click the first file, and then press and hold the Ctrl key.
  2. While holding down the Ctrl key, click each of the other files you want to select.

How to select without using the mouse

  1. Press Windows Key + E to open File Explorer.
  2. Press Tab until you're in the section of the Window containing the files or folders you want to select.
  3. Use the arrow keys to move to the file or folder you want to select.
  4. Once a file or folder is highlighted, if you want to select more than one file or folder, hold down the Shift key and use the arrow keys to select multiple files or folders.

Other tips

You can use a combination of selecting multiple files and single files at the same time by following the steps below.

  1. Click the first file you want to select.
  2. Hold down the Shift key, select the last file, and then let go of the Shift key.
  3. Now hold down the Ctrl key and click any other file(s) you would like to add to those already selected.

Tip: Holding Ctrl and clicking a file a second time will deselect the file.

Additional information

  • See our highlight definition for further information about highlighting, additional examples, and other related information.