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For some reason when I copy a file from one folder and paste to a target folder (highlighted) it pastes the file several levels up, instead of in the target folder. I then have search up or down for the file and drag it.

How can I copy (Command-C), highlight a target folder, then paste (Command-V)?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Finder pastes into the folder you're currently in, which you can identify via the window title bar.

It does not paste into the selected folder when in list view (Cmd-2). It only does this in column view (Cmd-3), and that view also changes the current folder when changing the selection.

You can create a Service using Automator that executes ditto or cp based on the previously copied file(s) and the current selection. Setting it to Cmd-V might have unexpected side effects, since this shortcut wouldn't be context-aware: pasting when editing file names wouldn't work anymore

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The same behavior applies for at least View ▸ as ␣, New Folder and Show View Options — you'd have to make a lot of services to have it changed consistently. – user495470 Mar 7 '11 at 10:02

As a long-time Mac user, I've never EVER used copy/paste for filesystem management. It's always struck me as an odd windows thing.

The "proper Mac way" as I know it is to use a drag with modifier keys. Holding down option while dragging will make a copy, holding down command will force a move if you're dragging to another volume, and holding down command and option will create an alias.

Copy/paste does work, but the paste location will be whatever folder is open, not whichever folder is selected. So, copying the selected file, double-clicking the destination folder, and then pasting will work the way you want it to.

IMO, option-dragging is faster.

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Thanks for this! Finally I know how to copy properly in the Finder! My copies always went into the wrong folder... – JW. May 6 '14 at 12:09
I consider Apple's finder a completely braindamaged product, and I consider the pasting into the top-directory a serious bug that plagues me for years now. But you pointed me to a nice workaround. Thanks! – woens Jun 15 '15 at 14:18

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