How To Merge Two Folders with the Same Name on Mac Using Finder

Oct 26, 2020 - 4 Comments

Mac Finder icon

It’s all too easy to wind up with two folders thatĀ should contain a single set of files but have managed to be strewn across your computer’s storage in two different folders. Wouldn’t it be nice to merge those two folders of the same name into one on the Mac?

Whether newbie or computer wizard, it can be easy in MacOS to end up with two folders when you really wanted one. The obscurity of some elements of the macOS filesystem may even contribute to this happening for some user workflows. But if you do find yourself in need of a way to combine two folders into a single one to rule them all, fear not. We have a solution.

More accurately, Apple has a solution built right into Finder which, in turn, is built right into macOS on every Mac that ships with a modern Mac OS system software release.

The ability to merge two identically named folders is one that few people seem to know about, even experienced and expert Mac users. But that’s fine, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn where the merge tool is and, most importantly, how to use it on your Mac.

Merging Two Identically Named Folders on Mac

Merging two folders will take the content of one and move it into the other. The files inside the folders must be different and if that isn’t the case you’ll be given the option to keep the latest version of those files.Ā Pay attention if that’s a prompt you see! Now is also a good time to make sure your backup game is on point, too!

All that said, merging two folders is actually pretty easy and you don’t even need to use a special tool to access it. It’s just a modification to behavior you’re probably already familiar with in Finder. Here’s how it works:

  1. Locate the two folders with the same name that you’d like to merge together into one
  2. Press and hold theĀ Option key on your keyboard and then drag one folder to the location containing the one you want to keep. When you let go you’ll be given an option to “Merge” the folders. Click it to do exactly that.macOS Finder merge dialog box
  3. Note that you’ll only see an option to merge folders if one of them contains files that aren’t present in the other. If both folders have the same files you won’t be given the option to merge them.

That’s all there is to it. But remember, you’ll need to pay attention to any prompts that appear in case macOS warns you of the potential for overwritten files.

As mentioned, if both folders have the same files within them, you won’t be given the option to merge them, and really, why would you want to? Typically you don’t want to overwrite files, and if you did, then you wouldn’t be aiming to merge folders anyway. If you do find yourself in that situation with same named files, you can use the “keep both’ option.

This is just one of the many powerful yet quick and easy things you can do within Finder on the Mac. For example, did you know you can rotate images directly from Finder without opening any apps? Heavy iCloud Drive users can also see the status of file syncing, too. We have an ever-growing collection of Mac tips that you might want to check out as well. You might be surprised just how many tips and tricks you don’t know.

Were you able to merge two folders on the Mac using this trick? Did you find another solution? If you’re savvy with the command line, you may find it interesting to note you can use ditto to merge directories from terminal as well


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Posted by: Oliver Haslam in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Mike Kirby says:

    Great tip, if you have enough free disk space to create a second copy of most of the folder, since you’re copying, not moving, the existing files. If you don’t (because say the folder is so huge that doing it by hand would be a pain) there is no way to do this.

  2. Hely says:

    Thanks for the tips.

    Merging is a useful feature considering that Replace’s results delete all the files in the target folder.

    I tried to merge two folders following the steps shared but pressing any of the ‘option’ buttons doesn’t make any difference on the pop window only shows ‘Stop’ & ‘Replace’ buttons on my Macs.

    One Mac has macOS High Sierra, and the other has macS Catalina.

    May I know if the Merging feature is for older macOS versions, or Should it be enabled somewhere previously?

    Additionally, I would like to know if macOS has the feature to compare two folders or files with the same name and looking for differences like size, date, etc.?

    I am looking forward to your feedback.

    • Mike R says:

      That functionality was removed in later versions of OS X.

      There are 3rd party programs out there like DeltaWalker that compare the source and destination and let you merge or overwrite based on date, size etc.

  3. sven says:

    Excellent tip! Works great, and as a Mac user since 1985, I must say it’s fun to still learn new tricks!

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