Super Basic but long standing question: Moving Files via Finder

Hopefully I have just missed something, but is there any way to move files around in Finder as easily as, say, in Devon Think? Devon Think is great, but using it as a stand in for the Finder would be way too cumbersome… I’m on Big Sur 11.6.

As far as I know, you can drag and drop files in both applications.
So where Do you see the differences?
What are your problems with Finder?

One of the killer features (to me) in DEVONthink is the “Move To…” command, which opens an expandable menu of all folders (groups). I’d love to have that in Finder, too.

Are you talking about the cmd+ctrl+m shortcut that lets you autocomplete the destination? The closest I know of is to use cmd+shift+g in a second finder window to open your destination by typing as you would in Terminal (but with a nicer autocomplete dropdown.)

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There are multiple ways to move files in the Finder. The most common way is to physically drag them from one window or Finder tab to another, or to a Folder/Directory, Can you be more explicit about what you want to do?


The dragging and dropping between finder windows or within finder windows I find clunky at best – Like ZXCVBN I’m a HUGE fan of the “Move to” command in Devon think. Thanks CORNCHIP – I hadn’t seen the command+shift+g in any of the documentation… I’m going to give that a try. My desktop is a mess!

In Windows, Ctrl X to cut and Ctrl V to move to the destination. Alas, Mac Finder does not have this easy, universal way to do and so, I have to learn to use Cmd C to copy and Cmd-Options-V to move files.

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You might be interested in the app Default Folder X. It’s primarily an add-on to Open/Save dialog boxes that creates a sidebar with access to frequently-used folders, folders open on the desktop, favorite folders, etc. This feature helps me prevent just dumping stuff on the desktop.

But it has an additional feature that you can turn on for Finder windows. You get a little shelf that pops up on the bottom of every finder window where you can drag files temporarily — before dragging them to a new location accessed by Default Folder’s Finder drop-down. I find it handy when I’m doing a big clean-up.


yes but note:

  • from one folder to another on same drive = it will move
  • from one folder to another on different drive = it will copy


I have used Forklift app for years, dual pane, configurable sidebar, favourites etc. built in FTP and much more.

You can set it as default finder app as well.


Yes, but . . . there are keyboard commands for the Finder. Hard to think about these, i’ve used them so long. But these are really common, standard Finder commands,

Using “file” but it could be any icon/folder, app etc. selected in the Finder. These can apply to multiple selected items at once.

Command key & dragging to another volume: Moves the dragged item, rather than copies.
Option key and dragging: Copy the dragged item to the new location
Option-Command and dragging: Make an alias of the dragged item.
Command-c: Copy the selected file
Command-v: Paste the file(s)
Option-Command-v: Move the files in the Clipboard from their original location to the current location (Paste command + Option key).
Command-d: Duplicate the selected file(s)
Control-Command-a: Make an Alias for the selected file (then move the Alias)
Command-Delete: Move the selected file to the Trash.


I do this via Alfred Universal Actions.

When a file (or folder or multiple files) is selected In Finder, I invoke Universal Actions (can’t remember the original hotkey, but I’ve set mine to double pressing ), from there I use the “Move To…” (or “Copy To…”) then use Alfred’s autocomplete for selecting the destination path.

As a bonus tip, one can use a Folder Filter to search for a folder and drag it to the save file dialog. As Alfred uses its graph for sorting, recent and most used folders always appear on top.


One of the reasons I like DEVONthink 3 , I would buy it for that alone. However as @Medievalist says below there is a helpful list of keyboard commands for Finder which work fine I used to find and still use occasionally. The copy and paste with the option key is the most useful and moves the file effectively. I think there are Keyboard Maestro macros too? I had Hazel but don’t move around enough files to justify using it.
I have to say I find dragging files in Finder was the worst way as it was quite easy to put them in the wrong place by accident.

Thank you for the reminder that “Move To…” is one of Alfred’s Universal Actions! There are so many useful features like this that I can’t keep at top of mind. :slightly_smiling_face:


I looked at your comment again. Really putting everything in DEVONthink 3, which I do is way better than Finder, especially since you can index everything there anyway so it findable via say Houdah Spot or whatever. I did, I admit feel a kind of unease when I first did that but realized I was not utilizing the power of DEVONthink 3 really until I did.

Great tip, thank you! I’ll have to check that out.

Thanks - Nice review of these Finder commands.

In addition to the excellent Default FolderX recommended by @margaretamartin, several other variations of temporary shelf applications include Yoink, Dropzone, and Unclutter.

Hazel is something I use to keep my desktop tidy. I have several rules defined where Hazel watches my desktop and moves files. For example, one rule sees that screenshots are automatically moved from my desktop to a screenshots folder.

And Stacks can help bring order to a messy desktop as well.

Best of luck in your clean up efforts.

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If you’re moving a large number of files check out a recent article on Tidbits about using ChronoSync to do that: Use ChronoSync to Move Large Folders.