As a Windows user in previous life, I kind of miss moving files using just keyboard.

Is this possible with in Mac OS X?

Edit: Related problem is navigating in finder using just keyboard without that this really hard. You open two windows using mouse then use keyboard is just the same as using mouse

  • Move as in between two folders? There must be a copy+paste function right? – Ivo Flipse Sep 25 '09 at 10:45
  • After some looking I fear it won't exist (unless hacked) – Ivo Flipse Sep 25 '09 at 10:48
  • Copy+paste yes, but that's copy, not move. I'm not at all sure if can you do cut+paste... – Jonik Sep 25 '09 at 10:48
  • Looks like answer is NO :-) , With finder it is not possible! – nexneo Sep 26 '09 at 7:13

11 Answers 11


I'm answering my own question but Mac OS X Lion has it now finally. in Lion, if you hold Option when pasting a copied Finder item (Command-Option-V), it really does move it. (via http://tidbits.com/article/12320)

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    So, that's basically pressing Cmd+C for the files you want to cut and then Cmd+Opt+V in the folder you want to paste to. Sorry, it was not clear from your answer that one should use Cmd+C and not Cmd+X – Dmitry Gonchar May 13 '18 at 3:35

Cmd-X doesn't work on files by default. You can enable it by executing

defaults write com.apple.finder AllowCutForItems 1

in a terminal. But all it does it is just moving the file to trash.

As someone said before you can move files with Cmd+dragNDrop (or just drop&drag :)), but you need mouse to do that. Maybe there are some scripts that copies&paste and then deletes the original file? I dunno.

You may want to look for a 3rd party software, something that is equivalent to Total Commander or something like that...


OS X does not allow that. It's an Apple Design question. They don't believe in the metaphor of "cutting" something, no matter how much we (users) believe in it.*1
So we are left with what others can come up with. And a lot of them did.

Do it with a macro in QuickSilver (which, once you know it, you wouldn't want to live without anymore anywayz): http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20081112153330648

Do it with the Context Menu (QuickAccessCM): http://www.pure-mac.com/cmm.html#quickaccesscm

Do it with a droplet (nothing I'd suggest since it uses the mouse as well): http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/27818

Do it by replacing the finder as a whole: http://www.cocoatech.com/ (Pathfinder)

I've gone the QuickSilver way, since I am a keyboard junkie and QuickSilver ... well, everything and the kitchen sink.

*1 Except that since OS 3.0 on iPhone even Apple offers a "Cut" option. I still hope - after decades of waiting - that it will finally be available in a Desktop OS as well...

  • 2
    "Cut" is always available for Text editing on most Mac apps designed by Apple. So they believe in "Cut", I guess. – nexneo Apr 19 '11 at 13:28
  • we're talking about files here. not text. – Wolf Apr 28 '11 at 12:30
  • read your answer you said They don't believe in the metaphor of "cutting" something, no matter how much we (users) believe in it." – nexneo May 1 '11 at 10:16
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    I have answered in the context of the question. It asks "Move files using just keyboard in Mac Finder ?". I wonder why it is so important for you to point that out and lecture me about something, I haven't said. I'm sorry if I haven't answered your question to your satisfaction. I was only trying to help. Now I am sorry I did. – Wolf May 4 '11 at 11:59

use CMD + C to copy use CMD + V to paste


use CMD + ALT + V to Move (equivalent of cut and paste)


I suspect that you want a Finder solution, and others have written about that, but...

You can do hand-on-the-keyboard manipulation of the filesystem at the command prompt (either using Terminal.app or an xterm). All the usual unix tools are availible, and in particular files are moved with

mv <current path>  <destination path>

where both paths may be either relative or absolute. If the destination is a directory (folder) the file will be put in the destination, otherwise the file will be renamed.

  • This is not mac specific. Its unix shell – nexneo Sep 27 '09 at 10:04
  • @nexneo, what do you mean with your comment? – Arjan Sep 27 '09 at 18:48
  • @Arjan, using command line is an option but no GUI. Its unix shell that does it. That is not mac specific interface, can be done that way in any posix compliant OS. And my question was "How to do that with Finder? " Not other application :) certainly not Non-GUI – nexneo Sep 27 '09 at 19:41
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    ::looks at the title, then looks at the edit history, finally blushes:: When I wrote this I'd been perusing the existing answers and must have forgotten the title. I was thinking only in terms of a hands on the keyboard solution. It happens. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 27 '09 at 22:05

Cut and Paste for Finder is a couple of AppleScripts that appears to do the job. You'll need another add-on like Keyseer from here to associate the scripts with a key combination.


Cmd+` will cycle Finder windows.

Use the arrow keys to scroll up and down. Use Cmd+Up to go up a level.

Regular clipboard shortcuts (Cmd+X, C, V) to cut, copy, and paste.

Another useful shortcut is Cmd+Shift+/ (Cmd+?), which will let you navigate the menu bar with the keyboard.

More here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1343

  • Like noted in earlier answers: Cmd-X won't work. The official shortcut to get to the menu bar is Ctrl-F2 (but invoking help using Cmd-? and then moving left works as well indeed). – Arjan Sep 25 '09 at 12:09
  • Thanks for Ctrl+F2 -- I didn't know about that one! – i-g Sep 27 '09 at 23:39
  • Or map Caps Lock to the menu, like I did (self link). – Nathaniel Aug 27 '11 at 14:15

I know this post is long over and has been answered for Lion users. But as a Snow Leopard user, the option key does not facilitate a move. The best solution I can think of is to use the copy and paste function, and then navigate back to the copied file and use Cmd+Delete to then remove the file.

This to me seems like an excessively long way around the problem, especially if the paths between the containing folders are somewhat far apart.


When i started using Mac OS X, i used this website

Copy and Paste files Cmd-C, then Cmd-V
Move a file instead of copying. (Copies the file to the destination and removes it from the original disk.) Cmd-Drag file to disk

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    How do you do Cmd-Drag using just keyboard (see the question)? – Jonik Sep 25 '09 at 10:50
  • Another problem is navigating in finder using just keyboard – nexneo Sep 25 '09 at 11:18
  • @nexneo, I agree. For me it helped when I finally learned about Cmd-O (for opening e.g. subfolder) – Jonik Sep 25 '09 at 11:20
  • Okay. after some research I found. Cmd+[ and Cmd+] shortcuts to for navigation. But still move seems like mouse only operation – nexneo Sep 25 '09 at 11:24
  • If you use column view, you can pretty much navigate using only the arrow keys (and, occasionally, command). – Benjamin Dobson Sep 26 '09 at 18:41

It's probably not the answer you want but you can actually do this using the keyboard, by enabling mouse keys in the universal access pref pane.

For example to drag a file to a window that was to the left, you would press Alt five times, then Fn-M, then hold down Cmd-Fn-U until you are in the right place, then Cmd-Fn-. and you have Cmd dragged your file. Then press Alt five times again to turn off mouse keys.


To move files in Finder, select and copy files with CMD C Goto new folder OPTION CMD V deletes copy and moves file to new location

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