7 Ways to Move Files in Windows 11 (2023)

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Almost all Windows 11 users have moved their files to different folders or drives at least once in their life. Transferring files between folders is simple enough, but did you know there are many ways to do that?

You can move files using File Explorer, the Command Prompt, Windows PowerShell, or even the context menu outside those apps. So, these are the several ways you can move files in Windows 11.



1. How to Move Files by Dragging and Dropping Them

Many users move files in Windows 11 with the drag-and-drop method—a simple method to transfer files within File Explorer and on the desktop. Furthermore, this is the most intuitive method, as it's like using your hand to grab a paper document from one folder and place it in another.

You can drag and drop a file by opening a folder in Explorer, left-clicking a file, and holding the mouse button. Then drag the file over a directory you want to move it to on Explorer's left sidebar. Release the left mouse button when you see a Move to tooltip.

Although you can use the sidebar for moving files, opening a second Explorer window can sometimes be easier. You can open double windows by pressing the Windows key + E hotkey twice. Then bring up the directory you want to move the file to in one window and drag it there.

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To move multiple files with the drag-and-drop method, hold the Ctrl key. Select the files you want to move and release the Ctrl key; left-click and hold the files to drag them to a folder. When dragging, you should see a number on the file that shows how many files the selection includes.

2. How to Move Files by Cutting and Pasting

Cutting and pasting enable you to move files by selecting two different options. First, you remove a file from its current location by selecting the cut option. That file disappears from its original folder when you select paste to move it elsewhere. This is how you can cut and paste a file within Explorer:

  1. To view File Explorer, click that app's library folder taskbar icon.
  2. Open a folder that includes some files to move.
  3. Select a file to move with your mouse.
  4. Click the Cut option (scissors button) on Explorer's command bar.
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  5. Then open another directory to move the cut file into.
  6. Click the Paste button on the command bar. The file will then appear within the folder you've opened to move it to.
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Alternatively, you can utilize the Cut and Paste context menu options. Right-click a file to move and select Cut. Then right-click inside a folder or the Windows desktop area and select Paste.

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Ctrl + X is the hotkey for cutting files. Select a file you want to move and press that keyboard shortcut to cut it. Then you can move it anywhere by pressing the Ctrl + V keyboard shortcut.

3. How to Move Files With the Command Prompt

The Command Prompt has many file management commands. You can utilize that app for moving files by entering text commands. You'll need to include full file and folder paths in your commands. These are the steps for transferring a file with the Command Prompt.

  1. Activate the file and folder search box by pressing both the Windows logo + S keys on your keyboard.
  2. Type Command Prompt into the file search tool.
  3. Open the Command Prompt app your search query finds by selecting its Run as administrator option.
  4. Input this command for moving a file:
     move "full file path" "full destination folder path" 
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  5. Press Enter to move the file.

Of course, you'll need to replace the entire file and destination folder paths in that command with actual locations. For example, suppose you want to move a photo.png file in the Users folder to the Program Files directory. The command for moving that photo.png file would look like this:

 move "C:\Users\photo.png" "C:\Program Files" 

4. How to Move Files With PowerShell

PowerShell is another command-shell app with which you can move files. It enables you to transfer files much the same as in the Command Prompt by inputting commands that include source and destination locations. This is how to move files with PowerShell:

  1. Open Windows 11's Start menu and input PowerShell in the search box.
  2. Select Run as administrator for Windows PowerShell along the right of the search tool.
  3. Enter this PowerShell command:
     Move-Item "full file path" "full destination folder path" 
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  4. Then press Return to run the command and move the file.

You'll need to modify the contents of the command within the inverted commas much the same as in Command Prompt. Delete full file path and full destination folder from the command. Then input the actual file and folder paths there. For example, this would be the PowerShell command for moving photo.png:

 Move-Item "C:\Users\photo.png" "C:\Program Files" 

5. How to Move Files With the Send to Submenu on the Context Menu

Windows 11's classic context menu includes a Send to submenu from which you can select to copy files to various locations. Of course, copying a file is not the same as moving it. However, you can also transfer files to custom folders added to the Send to menu as follows:

  1. Open Explorer and a directory containing the file you want to move.
  2. Right-click the file and select Show more options.
  3. Then select the Send to submenu.
  4. Move the cursor over a custom folder to move a file in without selecting it.
  5. Hold the Shift key and click a custom folder to move the file into that directory.

Note that this method for moving files with the Send to submenu only works for folders added by users. Check out this guide to adding shortcuts to the Send to menu for further details about how to add folders there.

6. How to Move Files With a Move to Context Menu Option

Alternatively, you can select to move files with a more specific Move to folder context menu option. However, Windows 11's context menu doesn't include such an option by default. You'll need to add one, as covered within our article about adding a move to folder context menu option.

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After adding a Move to folder context menu option, right-click a file on the desktop or within File Explorer and select Show more options; then click the Move to folder option to bring up a navigation window. Select a directory to move the file to and click Move.

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7. How to Automatically Move Files

It's also possible to get files automatically moved to a different folder. However, you'll need to create a batch file to do that since Windows doesn't have any built-in options you can select to move files into another directory automatically. This article about automatically moving files tells you how to set up such a script on Windows and Mac platforms.

How Do You Like to Move Your Files in Windows 11?

So, try moving some files with all the methods above. Then you can choose whatever way to move files you like best. You can also transfer files between Windows computers with USB sticks, cables, third-party software, and network drives.

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