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Copy File, Move File or Create Shortcut

Windows provides us with a number of different ways to copy files from one place to another, move files from drive to drive or folder to folder, and to create shortcuts for quickly opening files and their related programs.

We can right-click on a file, click Copy (or Cut, if we want to move the file), then change to the directory where we want the file to be, right-click and select Paste. If we want a shortcut, the final step would be right-click and select Paste Shortcut.

Or, we can select the file, and do the Copy/Cut and Paste/Paste Shortcut using the menu bar.

Tech Tip
Tip – if Windows Explorer doesn’t show the menu bar, press and release the Alt key, which will temporarily display the menu bar. Select Tools > Folder Options…. Then, select the View tab, and put a checkmark beside "Always show menus."

The most popular way to copy files is the drag-and-drop. Not only can you use it to copy files to another location, normally you can use drag-and-drop to attaché files to emails (create a new email, and then drag the file onto the email to create an attachment — note that this typically does not work with web-based email systems).

Tech Tip
Almost any file selection dialog box, or file save dialog box, can also be used as a source for drag-and-drop. Of course, these only show the particular file types that are recognized by the particular program that called the file open/save dialog box.

One problem with the drag-and-drop method is that it doesn’t always do what you think it’s going to do.

If you left-click-drag-and-drop from a location on your hard drive to another drive or flash drive, Windows will make a copy in the new location.

But, if you left-click-drag-and-drop from a location on your hard drive to another folder on the same drive, Windows will move the file, rather than make a copy!

You could access the original file via the shortcut, but if you ever deleted the original file (perhaps thinking "I know I moved that, I can delete this one now"), you’ll lose the file. IF it was a spreadsheet, you can probably create it again. If it was a photo, it’s gone. (another reason to back up your data!)

The other problem (other than conslstency) with the left-click-drag-and-drop is the accidental interruption. Whatever the mouse pointer is over at the time the left button is released, is where the file will be copied or moved. Whether it’s bumping the mouse against the computer,

The best way to use drag-and-drop is by using the mouse’s right button. When you use the right-click-drag-and-drop, Windows will give you four options when you release the mouse button. You can copy, move, create a shortcut, or cancel.

By using right-click-drag-and-drop, you won’t lose a file by accidentally moving it into a different folder when you accidentaly release the mouse button. The pop-up option menu gives you the opportunity to try again.

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