6/2/229:00 am Copying Vs Moving Files On a Mac When you drag and drop a file from one folder to another on a Mac, sometimes this will move the file, and sometimes this will copy the file. Learn when a drag is a move vs a copy and how to choose the other option. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's look at the difference between moving and copying files on your Mac. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. Managing files on your Mac usually means dragging and dropping files between folders or Finder windows on your Mac. When you do that sometimes when you drag and drop a file you move it from one location to the other. Other times when you drag and drop a file you are actually creating a copy of that file at the second location and leaving the original file in the first location. So let's look at a typical example. Here I've got one folder open. It's a folder on my local internal hard drive. If I Command click here I can see in my Home folder I have a folder called Local Documents. These are the files in there. I have another folder. This one is also in my Home folder. But this one is called Test. So two folders. Both on my internal Home drive in my Home folder. Now when I select a file and drag and drop from one to the other you could see it moves the file. The file is no longer in its original location. It has moved to the new location. I can move it back there as well. But what happens if I want to Copy the file from one to the other. I want to leave this original here in Local Documents and have a new copy of it here in Test. So there are two separate files. Well, I can do that with the same drag and drop option but I need to hold down the Option key. When I hold down the Option key notice how the pointer changes from just a plain arrow to an arrow with this green Plus icon. Now when I drop I get a second copy of the file here and the original is still in the first folder. So as long as the file is on the same drive you can move it by simply dragging and dropping. But to Copy the file you would hold the Option key and drag and drop. Now what happens if the two locations are on different drives. Here I've got the same Local Documents folder on my internal drive in my Home folder. But here I've got the folder that is actually on an external drive. So this could be a USB Flash Drive. This could be a hard drive you've attached. This could be a drive that is on your network somewhere. So these are separate drives. Now if I were to drag and drop this file you could see that without holding any key down I get that little green Plus there showing it is going to Copy the file. If I drop it I could see the file appears here on the external drive but the original is still there. This makes sense from a safety perspective because there are two separate drives involved. Then dragging and dropping from one to the other shouldn't delete the file from the first drive. That just makes it too easy to delete files from a drive. Then if that second drive goes somewhere else now you suddenly find you don't have that file anymore. So the default behavior when dragging and dropping between two separate drives is to Copy NOT Move. Whereas the default behavior when dragging and dropping on the same drive is to simply Move the file. But let's say you do want to move the file from this folder on one drive to this folder on another drive. Well you can do it. One way to do it is in two steps and that is simply to drag and drop a file. That makes a copy of the file here. Then you go to this file here and delete it by dragging it into the Trash or using Command Delete to get rid of it. So that's one way to basically move the file. But if you want to do it with just dragging and dropping you can do it but you need to hold down another key. Not the Option key. But if you hold down the Command key you can see how that green Plus button goes away. That changes this drag option to a Move. So it's going to move the file and you can see how it is gone from the folder here on the internal drive. Now it only exists on the external drive. So essentially it's a copy and delete action when you hold the Command key down. So when the two files are in the same drive you Move by dragging and dropping and you Copy with Option drag and drop. When two files are on separate drives you Copy with a simple drag and drop but you Move with a Command drag and drop. Now dragging and dropping isn't the only way to move files around. Another way a lot of people like to do it is with Copy and Paste. So when moving to another folder in the same drive you can select the file. You can Command C for Copy. Go here and you can do Command V for Paste. That will actually create a copy of the file. However, if instead of Command V for Paste you hold the Option key down to get Option Command V or Move Item, now it will move instead of copy. Now when going to an external drive it works exactly the same way when using keyboard shortcuts. So I select this file. I would Copy. I could go here and if I were to Paste the item it would create a copy here. If I were to Option Command V it would Move the item there. So with Copy and Paste it always works the same way. Always defaulting to Command V being to Copy the file and always Option Command V to Move the file. So there is no difference whether using an internal drive or an external drive if you are using Copy and Paste. Also, if you were to open the file and in the App you are using go to File, Move To then that will always act as a Move. The file will no longer be at its original location. It will be at the new location regardless of whether that is an external drive or another location on the same drive. I hope you found this useful. Thanks for watching.Related Subjects: Finder (287 videos) Related Video Tutorials: Using Terminal to Find Large Files and Folders Comments: 2 Responses to “Copying Vs Moving Files On a Mac” Lynda Kincaid 2 years ago If you move a file internally (to desktop) then edit either one, does it update both? Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Lynda: If you "move" a file, then there is only one file when you are done. It has just changed locations. Like if you move a book from one room in your home to another, there is only ever one book. If you copy a file, then there are now two independent files that are no longer connected to each other. Edit one, and the other is not changed. 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