Command drag files to move them between drives
Mac Tip #535, 09 May 2012
Sometimes you plug an external drive into your Mac — for example, a USB stick — and want to move files onto it, rather than copying them. The
Command (⌘) key works that magic for you. Here’s how.
- Drag a file to another drive to copy it. Or use the
Pastecommands from the
- Hold down the
Command (⌘)key while you drag the file to another drive to move the file.
The default is to copy files
On the Mac the default behaviour is to
Copy a file to another drive. Suppose you plug in a thumb drive and drag a file across to it. The original file stays where it was and a copy appears on the thumb drive.
Note that as you drag the file to a different drive the icon shows a green
+ symbol to indicate the file is being copied.
The same happens if you instead select the original file and choose
Copy from the
Edit menu then open the thumb drive and choose
Paste from the
That can be handy if you want the file in both places, but if you no longer need the original you then have to go back to select it and Trash it.
Command drag to move files
If you no longer need to keep the file in its original location hold down the
Command (⌘) key while you drag the file to the thumb drive. The file will move to its new location instead.
Not just thumb drives
This works the same for USB sticks and external hard drives too.
So next time you intend to move a file to a new drive hold down the
Command (⌘) key while you drag it.
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