How to copy a directory or folder

Updated: 05/04/2019 by Computer Hope

There are several ways to copy a directory or folder, depending on the operating system on your computer and where you want to execute the copy. Select a link below for your operating system or where you want to perform the copy.

Microsoft Windows

Copy directory

To copy a folder in Microsoft Windows, follow the steps below. When copying a folder in Windows, everything in the folder including all files and subdirectories will be copied.

  1. Locate and highlight the folder you want to copy.
  2. Right-click the folder and select Copy, or click Edit and then Copy.
  3. Move to the location you want to place the folder and all its contents, and right-click and select Paste, or click Edit and then Paste.
Tip

Once a file is copied, it can be pasted anywhere on the computer, including the Desktop, another folder, or a drive.

Tip

You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste files on the computer. For example, you could highlight any file and press Ctrl+C to copy the file. Once copied, you can move to where you want to paste the file and then press Ctrl+V to paste the file.

MS-DOS and Windows command line

xcopy command

To copy a directory in MS-DOS, use the xcopy command. Below is a basic example with each of the steps to do this in MS-DOS. If you need additional information about the xcopy command or additional examples, see the above xcopy command page.

Note

By default, the basic xcopy command only copies files in the directory you specify as the source directory. You must use the /E option to copy subdirectories in the source directory as well.

Copy a directory and contents

xcopy c:\example c:\example2

In the example above, the directory "example" is copied into a new directory called "example2".

Copy the contents of a directory into another directory

  1. Move to the directory where you want to copy the directories and subdirectories. In the example below, we will be moving to the temp2 directory using the cd command.
cd\temp2
  1. Once in the directory, use the xcopy command to copy another directory's subdirectories and contents. In the example below, we're copying the "temp3" contents into the "temp2" directory. Keep in mind that this will not copy the actual directory "temp3". Only the files and subdirectories in the temp3 directory will be copied.
xcopy c:\temp3 /e

Once the steps above are completed, everything should be copied into the temp2 folder.

Copy a directory with a space in the name

Tip

When dealing with a space in a file or directory, you always surround it with quotes.

xcopy c:\test "c:\space test"

In the example above, the directory "test" is copied into a new directory called "space test".

How to copy a directory to another drive

xcopy c:\test d:\test

In the example above, the "test" directory on the C: drive would copy to the "test" directory on the D: drive.

Linux and Unix

cp command

To copy a directory with all subdirectories and files, use the cp command. Below is an example command of how you would use the cp command to copy files. Additional information about this command and other examples are available through the above cp link.

cp -r /home/hope/files/* /home/hope/backup

In the example above, the cp command would copy all files, directories, and subdirectories in the /home/hope/files directory to the /home/hope/backup directory.

Additional information