How to move files and folders on the computer

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Folder full of files.

There are several methods available to move, or transfer, computer files and folders (directories) from one source or level to another. Click one of the links below to view steps relating to the operating system you need help with, or scroll down to review them all.

Note

When moving files or folders, you're going to have only one copy of the files moved. If you want more than one copy of the files, copy the files and not move them. See: How to copy files.

How to move files in Windows

Windows 10 logo

In Windows, you can move files using several method. You can drag-and-drop, cut and paste, or use the "Move to Folder" command. Below are the steps on how you can move files in Windows. Choose the option that works best for you.

Tip

You can also select multiple files and move multiple files at once using any of the steps below. See: How to select or highlight multiple files and folders.

Cut and paste

Moving a file in Windows

To cut and paste a file, select the file you want to move, right-click the highlighted file, and then select Cut. Browse to the folder you want to move the file to, right-click in the folder, and select Paste.

Alternatively, you can click Edit from the file menu, select Cut to cut the files, browse to where you want to move the files, then select Edit and Paste in the file menu.

Finally, you can also use shortcut keys to cut and paste files. Select the files you want to cut, then press the shortcut key Ctrl+X to cut the files. "Cutting" the files is like cutting text in a document: it moves the files to a temporary "clipboard" until you "paste" them somewhere. Navigate to the destination folder and press the shortcut key Ctrl+V to paste the files. The files are now in your destination folder.

Drag-and-drop

Drag-and-drop right-click

Highlight the files you want to move, press and hold your right mouse button, and drag-and-drop the files to where you want to move them. When you release the mouse button, a menu appears, similar to the example shown in the picture. Select the Move here option to move the files.

Note

For drag-and-drop to work, you'll need to be able to see the window of where you are moving the files.

Use "Move to Folder"

To use the "Move to Folder" command, select the file by clicking the file name. Click the Edit menu near the top-left of the window and select the Move to Folder option. In the new window browse to the folder you would like to move the file, then click the Move button to move the file to that folder.

If you are using Windows 8, once the files are selected the Move to option is shown under the Home tab.

How to move files in the Windows command line (MS-DOS)

In the Windows command line and MS-DOS, you can move files using the move command. For example, if you want to move a file named "stats.doc" to the "c:\statistics" folder, you would type the following command, then press the Enter key.

move stats.doc c:\statistics

If you'd like to move multiple files, you can separate the file names with a comma, as in the following command.

move stats.doc, morestats.doc c:\statistics

In the next example, we are moving the file "example.doc" to the D:\ drive.

move example.doc d:\

You can also move multiple files with wildcards. In the example below, the move command moves all files that have the ".doc" file extension to the "c:\statistics" directory.

move *.doc c:\statistics

Using the move command, you can also move a directory (folder). In the example below, the move command moves the "example" directory in the current directory to the "new" directory also in the current directory.

move example new
Tip

If you want to move a directory or file into a different directory, you need to specify the full path.

How to move files in macOS

Logo: Apple, Inc.

There are several ways to move files in macOS.

Drag-and-drop

In the macOS Finder, you can drag-and-drop one or more file icons, moving them from one folder to another. To drag-and-drop a file, highlight the files you want to move. Click any of them, and before you release the mouse button, move the mouse cursor until it is over the destination folder. Release the mouse button to move the files to this location.

Keyboard shortcut

You can also move files using keyboard shortcuts by following the steps below.

  1. Highlight the files you want to move.
  2. Press the keyboard shortcut Command+C.
  3. Move to the location you want to move the files and press Option+Command+V to move the files.

Terminal

To move files in the Terminal command line, use the mv command.

How to move files in Linux

Tux the penguin, Linux mascot.

In Linux, using the command shell, you can move files or directories with the mv command. For example, if you wanted to move a file named "myfile.txt" to the folder named "backup," you would type the following command.

mv myfile.txt backup

For more information, see our mv command reference.