How to Copy or Move Files and Folders on Windows 10

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Windows offers many ways to copy and move files. We will show you all the tips for File Explorer and how to use them in the command prompt and PowerShell. You can even add “Copy to” and “Move to” in the context menus of File Explorer.

When you copy a file or folder in Windows 10, a duplicate is made of the selected item and saved to a destination folder of your choice. However, when you move a file or folder, the original item moves to the destination folder instead of sending an identical copy.

How to copy or move files using drag and drop

One of the most common methods of copying or moving a file or folder is to drag and drop it to the destination folder. By default, depending on the location of the destination folder, File Explorer can move it instead of copying it, or vice versa. However, there is a hidden method that overrides the default behavior of Windows.

Open File Explorer by pressing Windows + E and navigate to the file you want to copy.

Open File Explorer for the files you want to copy.

When you drag files from one folder to another, you can use the left pane or open another instance of File Explorer to navigate to the destination folder. For this example, we’re going to use a second File Explorer window to copy files.

Open a second File Explorer window by pressing Windows + E and navigate to the destination folder.

Open a second file explorer and select the files to copy.

Windows has two default actions when you drag and drop a file or folder to a new destination: copy or move. Copying occurs when you drop the file or folder in a directory on another drive. Displacement occurs when you drop it on the same drive, as we will do below. However, there is a hidden trick that forces Windows to take a specific action.

To copy files to another drive, highlight the file (s) you want to copy, click and drag them to the second window, then drop them.

Drag the files to the second window and drop them.

If you are trying to copy the files to a folder on the same drive, click on it and drag it to the second window. Before deleting them, press Ctrl to activate Copy mode.

If you want to copy a file to the same drive, press Ctrl before dropping it in the window.

To move files to a different directory on the same drive, highlight the file or files you want to move, click on them and drag them to the second window, then drop them.

Click and drag the files to the second window.

If the destination folder is on a different drive, click on it and drag it to the second window as before, but this time press Shift to trigger Move mode.

To move files to a folder on another drive, click and drag them, but before dropping them, press Shift.

How to copy or move files using Cut, Copy and Paste

You can also copy and move files with the clipboard, just like cutting, copying, and pasting text.

Open File Explorer by pressing Windows + E and navigate to the file you want to copy.

Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the files you want to copy.

Highlight the files you want to copy, then click “Copy” on the File menu or press Ctrl + C on the keyboard to add them to the clipboard.

If you prefer to move items, highlight the files you want to move. Then click “Cut” on the File menu or press Ctrl + X to add the files to the clipboard.

Go to the directory in which you want to move the files, then click on “Paste” in the “Home” tab or press Ctrl + V. Depending on whether you click on “Copy” or “Cut”, your files will be copied or displaced.

Copy or move files and folders using the context menu

When you right-click a file or folder, Windows has a few hidden shortcut menu functions that allow you to add two options: Copy to or Move to. Addition of these two functions in the context menu allows you to copy or move items in a few clicks.

RELATED: How to add “Move to” or “Copy to” to the context menu of Windows 10

How to copy or move files using the command prompt

One of the fastest ways to open a command prompt in the desired directory comes from File Explorer. First, open File Explorer and navigate to the destination. Click on the address bar, type “cmd” and press Enter.

RELATED: 10 ways to open command prompt in Windows 10

To copy a file, you can use the following command syntax (if you copy a folder, just omit the file extension):

copy “file name.ext” “full path to destination folder”

The quotation marks in the command are only important when the file name or folder contains spaces. If they don’t have spaces, you won’t need to include the quotes. In the example below, neither the file name nor the folder contain space, so we didn’t need to use them.

The file is copied to the destination folder.

You can also use the copy command to duplicate multiple files at the same time. Just separate each file with a comma, then specify the destination folder as you normally would.

Separate multiple files with a comma to copy them.

To move a file, you can use the following command syntax (if you move a folder, just omit the file extension):

move “filename.ext” “path full to folder destination”

As with copying, the quotation marks in the command are only important when the file name or folder contains spaces. If they don’t, you don’t need to include the quotes. In the example below, neither the file name nor the folder contain space, so we didn’t need to use them.

The command moves the file.

However, if you try to move multiple files, as we did with the copy command, the command prompt generates a syntax error.

Using a comma to move multiple files does not work and the command prompt generates an error.

There are several other ways to move multiple items at the same time using the command prompt without generating an error. Each method uses a wildcard character to move multiple files in a statement.

First, if you want to move the whole of a specific file type, you can use the following syntax to move the files:

move * .ext “path full to directory”

Use a wildcard to move all files with a specific type of extension.

The second method is to move everything to the source directory, regardless of the file type. You can use the following syntax to complete the move:

move * “path full to directory”

Move each file that is in the folder.

How to copy or move files using PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is even more powerful and flexible than the command prompt when it comes to copying or moving files and folders in a command line environment. Although we only touch the surface, you can do really powerful things with cmdlets.

The fastest way to open a PowerShell window in the desired location is to first open the folder in File Explorer. In the “File” menu, click “Open Windows PowerShell”, then select “Open Windows PowerShell”.

RELATED: 9 ways to open PowerShell in Windows 10

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To copy a file or folder to PowerShell, use the following syntax:

Copy-element “filename.ext” “path to folder destination”

Although they are not required, the Copy-Item cmdlet only requires quotes around the file name and directory if they contain spaces.

For example, to copy a file from the current directory to another, you would use the following command:

Copy-Item Lex.azw D: Downloads

Type the command and the file will be copied to the destination folder.

The real power of PowerShell comes from the ability to channel cmdlets together. Let’s say, for example, that we have a folder with a bunch of subfolders with ebooks that we want to copy.

Instead of changing the directory and running the command again, we can ask PowerShell to analyze each folder and subfolder, and then copy a whole specific type of file to the destination.

We could use the following cmdlet:

Get-ChildItem -Path “. *. azw” -Nurse | Copy-article -Destination “D: Downloads”

The Get-ChildItem part of the cmdlet lists all the files in the current directory and all its subfolders (with the -Recurse switch) with the file extension AZW and redirects them (the symbol |) to the Copy-Item cmdlet .

After typing the command, PowerShell searches all of the subfolders for copies of everything in the specified file extension.

To move files instead, you can use the following syntax to move whatever you want:

Move-Item Lex.azw D: Downloads

The item has been moved.

Move-Item follows the same syntax as the Copy-Item cmdlet. So if you want to move all of the specific file types of a folder and all of its subfolders, like we did with the Copy-Item cmdlet, it’s almost the same.

Type the following cmdlet to move all files of a specific file type from a directory and its subfolders:

Get-ChildItem -Path “. *. azw” -Nurse | Move-Item -Destination “D: Downloads”

Moving files in PowerShell.

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