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How to Move (Multiple) Files on Mac without Copying/Dragging?

Updated on Wednesday, June 19, 2024

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

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Jenny Zeng
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Jessica Shee

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Summary: This article explains six ways to move one or multiple files on Mac without copying, including dragging and dropping, Terminal commands, and four other ways to move files without dragging. The best way to move files around on Mac is through the right-click menu of iBoysoft MagicMenu!

How to move files on Mac

Every Mac user eventually encounters the need to move files or folders around on their device. If you're new to Mac, this task might seem a bit daunting at first. Fortunately, this article is here to guide you. By mastering the various methods of moving files on a Mac, you can efficiently organize your files, avoiding clutter and chaos in your digital workspace.

The distinction between moving and copying files lies in the action performed on the original files. Moving transfers the original files from one location to another, while copying duplicates of the files and placing the duplicates in a different location.

When it comes to file management on a Mac, the focus is typically on moving files between folders rather than copying them. This is also the main focus of this post.

How to move files on a Mac without copying? (Quick summary)

In this section, we summarised the six methods for moving files on a Mac from one folder to another. Choose the method that best suits your preferences.

How to move files on Mac without copying?EffectivenessRecommendations
Right-click to move filesHigh - Easily move files between folders on Mac by right-clicking     
Drag and DropHigh but may move files to an unintended location    
Use keyboard shortcut (Command + C and Option + Command + V)Medium - Need to press several keys at once   
Use context menu and the Option keyMedium - Invlove several steps   
Run mv command in TerminalMedium - May be a bit challenging for those who are not familiar with commands   
Save the file to a different locationLow - Need to launch each file  

How to move files on Mac without dragging using the right-click menu?

One of the easiest ways to move files on Mac instead of copying them is by using the right-click menu enhancer, iBoysoft MagicMenu. With it, you can right-click selected files or folders to move them to a designated destination quickly.

Here are the details of its features:

Avoid accidental file movement: The problem with traditional dragging and dropping is that you may accidentally drop the files into an unintended location, which can waste time and lead to difficulty finding them later.

Available for trackpad, mouse, or keyboard shortcuts: As long as you can trigger a right-click on Mac, you'll be able to select and move one or multiple files without copying. If your keyboard is not working, you can use the touchpad, and vice versa.

Move files in Finder without dragging: If you'd rather not drag and drop files to move them on Mac, which only copies files to external volumes, this right-click tool is a great choice.

Add frequently-accessed folders to the context menu: By default, the tool allows you to move files to system folders, including Downloads, Documents, Desktop, Movies, Music, Pictures, Home & Applications, and external volumes, with one click. You can customize the context menu and add the directories you use often for quick access, reducing the transfer time wasted on navigating to the folders.

Tons of additional right-click menu options: Apart from moving files to another folder on Mac, it can also copy files or folders; open selected files with Terminal, iTerm, Atom, VSCode, and more; create a new file of various formats; fully uninstall apps; clean duplicate photos and files; capture screens; convert images; compress files; analyze space; cut and paste files; hide and reveal hidden files; and quickly access items.

Great macOS and device compatibilities: The tool is compatible with macOS High Sierra and later OSes running on Intel-based, T2, M1, M2, and M3 Macs.

Here's how to easily move files on Mac instead of copying:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft MagicMenu.

Step 2: Open the software, select "Copy/Move To," then click the add button to customize the regularly used paths. (Optional)

Add frequently access folders so that you can quicly move files on Mac without copying

Step 3: Select the files you want to move, right-click on them, then choose "Move To" and the desired directory. (Or if you prefer cutting and pasting, you can select Cut and then open the destination directory, right-click on it, and select Paste.)

How to move files on Mac without copying or dragging

 Note: To right-click on Mac, you can press the right-click button on your mouse, tap with two fingers on the touchpad, hold down Control while clicking the mouse button, configure a secondary click, or assign specific keyboard shortcuts.

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How to easily move files on Mac by dragging and dropping?

Dragging and dropping is another popular way to move files in Finder on Mac. If you drag and drop files on the same partition, for instance, from the Downloads folder to the Documents folder, the files are moved. However, if you drag and drop files from one partition to another, the files are copied but not moved.

To move files to another folder on Mac, simply select the files you want to transfer, then drag and drop them to the destination folder.

 Tips: If you're trying to move multiple files on Mac, you'll need to select them first. Here are a few ways to select multiple files on a Mac:

1. Select the first file, hold down the Shift key, then select the last file. 
2. Hold down the Command key and select one file at a time. 
3. Click on the empty space and drag. 
4. Press Command + A to select all.

How to move files on Mac with the keyboard shortcut?

You can also use the keyboard shortcut combination (Command + C and Option + Command + V) to move files around on Mac. While Windows allows you to cut and paste files using Control + X and Control + V, macOS only supports cutting and pasting text using Command + X and Command + V.

That being said, there's no actual cutting on a Mac. But you can achieve the same results by using a combination of copying and moving. Here's how to move files on Mac with keyboard:

  1. Select the files you want to move.
  2. Press Command + C to copy the files.
  3. Navigate to the destination folder.
  4. Press Option + Command + V to move the files to the new location and removes them from the original location.

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How to move files between folders on Mac with the context menu and Option key?

Alternatively, you can move files through the context menu by following the steps below:

  1. Select the files you'd like to move.
  2. Right-click on them and choose "Copy."
    How to copy files before moving it
  3. Open the folder where you want to move the file.
  4. Right-click on the blank space, press the Option key, and select "Move Item Here."
    How to move files on Mac using the context menu

How to move files without copying in Mac Terminal?

Moving files in Finder is intuitive, but running the mv command in Terminal offers a quicker way to move multiple files on Mac or rename a file while moving it to a different location.

How to move files from one folder to another in Mac Terminal:

  1. Press Command + Space and enter "Terminal," then launch the app.
  2. Type the following command and hit Enter to move files:mv file_path destination_folder_pathFor example, to move a file from the desktop to the Documents folder, type mv, leave a space, drag and drop the file(s) to the Terminal window to get file path, drag and drop the destination folder into Terminal, then press Enter.How to move files in Mac Terminal
  3. If you want to move and rename a file, run the following command instead:mv file_path new_file_pathTo move and rename a file named "fusion drive" to "Fusion Drive on Mac," type mv, leave a space, drag and drop the file into Terminal, drag and drop the destination folder into Terminal, type the new file name.How to move and rename a file in Mac Terminal
  4. Check the files in the destination folder.

How to move files to another folder on Mac by saving to it?

If you're not handling a large number of files, you can open each file and save it to the location you want to move it to. This may not be an ideal way to move files on Mac, but it can be helpful if those we mentioned before don't work somehow.

  1. Open the file.
  2. Click the File menu at the top.
  3. Select "Save As" or "Move To."
    How to move files on Mac by opening it and saving it to another location
  4. Choose your preferred location to relocate the file.

 Note: Moving files to an external storage device is the same as moving files on the internal hard drive, with one exception. If you want to drag and drop to move files to an external hard drive or USB flash drive, you need to hold down the Command key when dropping the files. For more details and solutions to try when you can't move files to an external drive on Mac, continue reading: How to Move/Transfer Files from Mac to External Hard Drive?

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