How do I select or highlight multiple files?

When working within 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 for 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
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 combination 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 from the top of the window.
  3. Click Select All on the dropdown 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 as shown in the animated picture to the right.

To do this click and hold your left mouse button in 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.

Select multiple files grouped together

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

Other tips

You can use a combination of selecting multiple files and single files at the same time by doing any of 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.