3 Ways to Move Files & Folders on Mac

Aug 9, 2021 - 17 Comments

How to Move Files & Folders on Mac

Ever wondered how you can move files and folders around on a Mac? If you’re using your first Mac and are new to macOS, one of the first things you may be interested in learning is file organization, especially if you’re switching from Windows.

The first step to properly managing files is knowing how to relocate files and store them in various folders. On Windows, you may be used to cutting and pasting files in a different location. However, on macOS, you cutting and pasting a file or folder works differently. Regardless, there are multiple ways to move files to a specific location of your choice.

Although relocating a file or folder on macOS is pretty easy, you’ll need some time getting used to it if you’re coming from the Windows world and are a new Mac user. In this article, we’ll be discussing three different ways that you can move files and folders around in Finder on Mac.

How to Move Files & Folders on Mac with Copy-Paste

This is just one of the three ways that you can use to seamlessly move your files from one location to another. Simply follow the steps below to get started.

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac from the Dock.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac
  2. Browse and find the file or folder that you want to move. Now, simply right-click or Control-click on the file and click “Copy”.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac
  3. Next, use Finder to head over to the location you want to move the file to and Control-click (right-click) on the empty area. Choose “Paste Item” and the file will show up here immediately.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac

That’s it. You’ve successfully moved the file. However, keep in mind that the file is also still stored in its original location since you copied and pasted it. You can manually remove the file by its original location and move it to Trash.

Moving Files & Folders on Mac with Drag & Drop

This might be the easiest way to move files on Mac especially if you’re coming from Windows, as it’s pretty similar. So, without further ado, let’s take a look.

  1. Launch Finder from the Dock and browse for the file that you want to move.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac
  2. The various locations on your Mac show up on the left pane in Finder. Simply drag and drop the file or folder in the location you desire. This drag and drop method can be used to move and store files in folders.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac

As you can see, it works just like the drag and drop method in modern versions of Windows.

How to Move Files on Mac Using Title Bar

This is a unique way to move files on macOS and it’s useful especially if you already have the file opened on your screen. Just follow the steps below to learn how to move a file using the title bar.

  1. You’ll need to first open the file on your Mac. Now, if you hover your cursor over the filename in the title bar, you’ll notice a chevron icon pop up as shown below.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac
  2. Clicking on the chevron icon will bring up a pop-up menu that allows you to change the file name and destination. You can click on the current destination as shown below to move the file somewhere else.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac
  3. Now, choose your preferred location from the dropdown menu and the file will be relocated immediately.

    How to Move Files & Folders on Mac

That’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, you cannot move folders using this method.

As you can probably see, there are three unique ways to move files and folders on macOS. Drag and drop might just be the fastest and easiest way to relocate files for new Mac users until they learn and get a hang of the Mac keyboard shortcuts.

Although macOS doesn’t offer a direct way to cut and paste files, you can take advantage of a keyboard shortcut that basically does the same thing. Press Command+C after selecting a file to copy it to your clipboard. Next, head over to the location where you want to move the file and press Command+Option+V. This will paste the file here and remove it from its original location. You can also cut and paste files and folders with menu options.

By the way, the methods covered here work in basically every version of macOS and Mac OS X ever released, so whether you’re on the latest macOS release or a much older version, you will find file management is the same with Finder.

We hope you were able to learn the different ways to move the files and folders stored on your Mac. Which one of these methods are you likely to use the most? Have you tried out the keyboard shortcuts method to move files quicker? Do share your valuable opinions and experiences in the comments section down below.


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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. JustJoe says:

    I found right-click>copy, then navigate to the destination folder and option-right-click>move-item-here to be the simplest way to do it for me. (Ventura 13.3.1a)

    • MartinK-TO says:

      I am traveling and I was struggling to copy paste folders and files using my track pad. I can’t reliably tap the trackpad to ‘pick up’ a folder.

      There has to be a better way. A quick search and I found your hint. Works like a charm.

      Thanks Just Joe

  2. Denise Morgan says:

    Hi I can’t see the sub folders so how do I drag and drop to them, it just says iCloud no smaller folders . help

  3. Greg says:

    Too hard. No simple way to drag a file from one folder or another if I want to actually move it. Thank goodness they haven’t screwed up the command line interface (although from my observances of M1 thus far I think Apple will not hesitate to torpedo Linux yet) so I think I will have to do it from there moving forward. As I was used to doing a couple of decades earlier.

  4. JayTee says:

    Dragging a file between folders in the same partition MOVES the file.

    Dragging a file between folders in separate partitions COPIES the file.

    Holding down the Command key when dragging a file to a new folder or partition MOVES the file.

    Holding down the Option key when dragging a file to a new folder or partition COPIES the file.

    As always, click, then shift-click allow you to select a range of files to copy or move; whlle Cmd-clicking allows you to select non-consecutive files.

  5. No way says:

    If you drag and drop from one partition or drive to another you dont move you copy.

  6. Nick says:

    You can also click Option and drag a file to another folder, which creates a new COPY in the second folder.

  7. Stan says:

    So, I tried the chevron approach, opened a file in Adobe Acrobat and floated my cursor over the title. Nothing. Nada. I clicked on the title. No reaction whatsoever. I’m using Big Sur, 11.5.1. Thanks for the hint; I’ll use the other methods because they work.

  8. Jim says:

    I use command X to cut the file and command V to paste the file to the new location. That’s really old school, it goes back to old Apple 2 plus days!

  9. Greg says:

    I like to just open another finder window (Command-N). Open the target folder (finder target), grab the file/s or folder and drag to destination folder (finder destination).
    This way you can select multiple files, folders depending on what you have opened in the Finder windows.

    • nananana says:


      • gagagaga says:


        I also love (Command-3). This feature allows people to target their prey (typically someone who was going through a really rough patch in life) and spy on their every move. Then discussing, joking about, bullying, and mind fucking the target until either lose their mind or they take their own life.

        The only alternative would be to NOT involve ourselves in matters of married couples. And to allow them to discuss and work things out together.

        The 2nd option isn’t exciting enough go make it on some anime site in China, but is probably what should happen.

  10. Hal says:

    I also like that you can quickly rename files in the Title Bar pop-down method (#3 above)
    I periodically receive videos for an upcoming zoom meeting, and I use the title bar method to instantly move from downloads to a new meeting folder, and rename videos with an 01, 02, etc prefix to correspond to order they will be shown in my upcoming zoom meeting.

    APFS enables the ‘instant’ appearance of the move.
    thanks for your ongoing tips!

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