How to CUT (not just Copy) and Paste in OS X Finder

August 18, 2010 - 1:00am ||| 3 Comments | Add new

Through the good graces of Parallels and VMWare, I’ve been running both Mac and Windows on the same Mac laptop for a few years now. The Windows equivalent of the Finder is called Windows Explorer (not “Internet Explorer” … that’s the browser we all love to hate), or “Explorer” for short. When you open the My Documents window, you’re soaking in it.

To move files around on Windows, you could alway select them in Explorer and drag and drop them to another folder. But most Windows users don’t’ bother; instead they just select the files/folders they want to move, right-click on the selection and choose Copy (or Cut). Then they navigate to the destination folder, right-click and choose Paste.  Or they use the keyboard shortcuts Control-C, Control-X, and Control-V.

I’ve always loved those shortcuts, and was thrilled when OS X came along for the Mac and gave us close to the equivalent in the Finder. You can make selection and copy and paste what you’ve got to another location. But then you have to remember to go back to the original files, select them again, and delete them (sorry, Move to Trash) otherwise you end up with duplicated.

Why no CUT command? I think it’s because Apple thinks we’re idiots. (Witness the 2-button mouse they’ve been shipping for years, with both buttons still programmed to be primary by default.) I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that they’re trying to protect users from accidentally sending files into oblivion. This could happen by selecting files, cutting them, and then getting distracted and not remembering to paste them somewhere. They’re not in the Trash, they’re nowhere. But I don’t know, I’ve never heard of this happening to Windows users. There must be a rudimentary failsafe someplace.

Whatever. To gain the ability to cut and paste files in the Finder, thereby actually *moving* them and not just *duplicating* them, you can use one of these handy, shareware solutions:

FileCutter 1.3.4, $5.00
Install this guy and you get a new FileCutter flyout added to the Finder’s contextual (right-click) menu, with a host of safe operations including cutting, moving, and pasting. I used it for years without a problem, but I don’t think it works in Snow Leopard (10.6).

moveAddict 1.6.3, $4.99 (Snow Leopard—10.6—only)
This is a tiny unobtrusive app that runs automatically in the background, and lets you use Command-X to cut files, or choose Cut from its title menu bar icon, which you can hide if you want. As the developer (a hard-working college student in Birmingham AL) notes, it doesn’t actually cut the file selection until you paste, so there’s no danger of files ending up in oblivion. Since I got my new laptop running Snow Leopard, I’ve been using moveAddict and it works brilliantly.

Comments (Subscribe to Comments RSS)

1 June 7, 2011 - 8:20am by Anonymous (not verified):

Ugh. I hate installing tiny little apps to perform tiny little things that Apple should have coded in by default. I bet 10.7 won’t even have this “feature” (if you can call it that). I’m off to find a way to enable this some other way.

2 August 7, 2011 - 8:44am by Anonymous (not verified):

how come such a SIMPLE cut&paste it was DIFFICULT for the to coded into the SUPER DUPER OSX??????????

3 March 9, 2013 - 11:16am by Manikandan Baluchamy (not verified):


I’m not sure if you found a solution within the OS X itself yet. But let me go ahead and share this.

Once you are done copying the file you can go to the target location where you want to paste it. Once you right click comes the context menu. Now, try holding the Alt or Option key. You should be able to see a menu item that reads ‘MOVE ITEM HERE’. This way you get to avoid duplicating files or take the extra burden of going back & deleting them.



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