Windows

Move and Copy files the old tried-and-true way in Windows 7

Greg Shultz presents a little refresher course on the Microsoft Windows Send To command and the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands.

While I've become quite enamored with using Aero Snap and my simulated dual-pane file manager technique, when copying and moving files and folders from one location to another, there are times when I reach back and use one of the tried-and-true techniques from Windows days gone by. Of course, I'm talking about the good old Send To command and the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands.

I happened to mention these old commands to a friend of mine, and she looked at me with a surprised expression and exclaimed that she had all but forgotten about those commands. She then told me that she always uses the Copy/Cut and Paste commands when it comes to copying and moving files. I asked around and discovered that she isn't the only one.

As such, for this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I decided to put together a little refresher course on the Send To command and the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Send To

To access the Send To command, simply right-click a file or a folder and select the Send To command from the context menu, as shown in Figure A. When you do, the selected file or folder will be copied to whatever destination you select.

Figure A

You can right-click on a file or folder and access the Send To command's menu of destinations.

As you can see, on this example system, there are five destinations on the Send To command's menu:

  • Compressed (zipped) Folder: Creates a compressed folder (a.k.a. a Zip file) and copies the selected files or folders to it all in one step.
  • Desktop (create shortcut): Allows you to instantly create a shortcut on the desktop to a file or folder.
  • Documents: Copies the selected file or folder to the Documents folder.
  • Fax Recipient: Allows you to easily send the file as a fax via the Windows Fax and Scan tool.
  • Mail Recipient: Allows you to easily attach a file to an e-mail message.

Depending on your system configuration, there may be other destinations on the Send To command's menu. For example, you might have a CD/DVD RW drive, a USB drive, or a mapped network drive on the Send To menu.

Fortunately, you can configure the Send To command to send files to other destinations, such as a specific folder, or even to an executable file, such as WordPad, simply by adding shortcuts to those destinations to the Send To command's folder. To do this, you must use the Shell: command. The reason being that the Send To command's folder is referenced by the operating system as a Junction Point or a Symbolic Link.

Click the Start button and type shell:sendto in the Start Search box. When you do, you'll see the results panel and can press [Enter] or click shell:sendto. Either way, you'll see the SendTo folder, like the one in Figure B. You can then use the Create Shortcut Wizard to create shortcuts to specific destinations or executable files.

Figure B

The actual SendTo folder is revealed by using the Shell: command.

Copy To Folder and Move To Folder

The Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands are hidden away on the Edit menu in Windows Explorer and Computer. Further masking their existence is the fact that the Menu bar is hidden by default in both Windows Explorer and Computer.

In order to access the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands, you first have to make the Menu Bar visible. The quick way to access the Menu Bar is to press the [Alt] key.

If you want to be able to readily access the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands, you'd probably rather have the Menu Bar visible all the time. To make it so, just click the arrow next to the Organize icon on the toolbar, open the Layout submenu, and select Menu Bar.

Now you can easily access and pull down the Edit menu to reveal the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands, as shown in Figure C. (Keep in mind that the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands will be available only if you have a file or a folder selected. If you don't, the commands will be grayed out and unavailable.)

Figure C

You'll find the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands on the Edit menu.
Using the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands is easy. For example, if you want to copy a file from one location to another, you first select the file or files that you want to copy. Then you pull down the Edit menu and select the Copy To Folder command. When you do, you'll see the Copy Items dialog box, shown in Figure D, which as you can see is a standard Browse dialog box.

Figure D

The Copy Items dialog box works just like a standard Browse dialog box.

You can just navigate the tree to select between drives, folders, and even network resources. If after you select your destination, you want to copy the files to a brand-new folder, you can click the Make New Folder button and a new folder will appear. Once you give the folder a name, just click the Copy button.

What's your take?

The good old Send To command and the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands are alive and well in Windows 7. Do you think that you will use them? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

42 comments
GCB26
GCB26

Thanks. I have a lot of folders and sub folders to re-organise. It is key data. I am thinking of using "MOVE" as you describe. I am concerned  that this will extend the path name to the file and make the file unopenable. Any thoughts ? Or does this only happen when you "cut" and "copy" ? Many thanks

Wombat961
Wombat961

Thank you for giving me that 'Aha' moment with your tip on using the Alt key to find the hidden Edit and Move!

So happy.

essex133
essex133

Like your friend, I have also used Copy/Cut and Paste to move files to another directory since Windows 7. That's okay except that I tend to end up with several directories open at the same time, so that I don't have to keep opening them again when I want to move another file. And unless you set Taskbar to Always combine, having several directories open at the same time clutters up the Taskbar. I had completely forgotten about the existence of the Menu Bar and didn't even consider the possibility that it could be made visible in Windows 7! I have now enabled the Menu Bar, which brings back the Copy or Move to options! So thank you so much for the tip.

pohsibkcir
pohsibkcir

I use WinBubble (http://unlockforus.blogspot.com/2008/11/download.html) to add "Copy to Folder" and "Move to Folder" to the right-click mouse button shell option menu ... As well as for other 'tweak' functions. It's quite similar to TweakUI for Windows XP (in function options), so the customary precautions should be adhered to if an end user should decide to download and make use of WinBubble on their PC's.

rwpank
rwpank

I have a lot of guys using gmail and would like to add that to Send To. I tried ...gnotify.exe -mailto %, but no go. Anybody got some ideas

glw_usa
glw_usa

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

schladitz28
schladitz28

One of the first changes I made when I installed Windows 7 was to activate the Send To, Copy To and Move To commands. They are so handy!

mgmorgan01
mgmorgan01

This is somewhat basic to be used in a Tech magazine. Tell us something we don't know.

johncymru
johncymru

For copy/move with the destination easily available I use drag and drop but for 'out of reach' or not visible folders on Windows up to XP I use the old Moon Software FileTargets which unfortunately doesn't work on Vista or W7 as it is a brilliant tool, especially if you have a lot of target folders you copy/move to often. But for Vista/W7 I use Send To Toys 2.5 (reminiscent of Windows own version) from http://www.gabrieleponti.com/software/ which adds, among other send to options, a 'Folder' entry in the Send to menu. This allows you to select Copy, Move or Create shortcut to an existing folder or to a newly created folder at the destination when you select the Folder entry. It does work in all versions of Windows even though the page only quotes up to Vista. Though if you you find that you often copy/move to the same folder it has an 'Add to send to menu'/'Remove from send menu' right click feature as well when you Right Click on a folder.

Dave Gregson
Dave Gregson

This is always a good way to do it. Unless you have the folders open together of course!! lol. Nice work as always Greg. Dave :)

dotsbox
dotsbox

I love you. Thanks for writing this!

Slayer_
Slayer_

It's not just located in %userprofile%/sendto nevermind, I just tried it in the run menu. That also works for shell:desktop, shell:templates etc. Neat.

misceng
misceng

I have been so used to having Copy to and Move to on the button bar in Win XP that I find Win 7 slows me down with more clicks to get the work done.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I find myself using the drag and drop method of copying and moving files no matter which version of Windows I am using. What is your preferred method for copying and moving files?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I like doing things manually (like using DOS to move and copy files), so I know exactly what gets done, but it was so much easier to download the TweakNow Power Pack. It lets you add the 'Move to folder' and 'Copy to folder' and also 'Administrator Command Prompt' to the right-click menu; along with a gazillion (or so) other things you can tweak with the ability to quickly and easily undo changes you've made, without the time-consuming need for using System Restore. Sometimes it really is better to go the easy route. http://download.cnet.com/TweakNow-PowerPack-2010/3000-18512_4-10914508.html

deICERAY
deICERAY

Yes, there's loads of GREAT little apps that patch Windows - but why does the world's biggest, most extensive, most widely used OS NOT have all the bells and whistles it needs to function adequately? The OS should do it better. Personally I'm going back to XP.

gdunger
gdunger

I use the Send To Folder and Copy to Folder all the time. Dragging is OK, but tooltip text often obscures the target, and hovering often triggers folder expansion which has become a signicant hate-win7-because-of item for me. A long time ago I used the registry hacks to add these to the context menu (more than half the links I found on the web actually edited the wrong key and produced some odd bug which I no longer recall), but then I started using the Standard Toolbar in Windows Explorer and added both tools - easy, one-click targets. Unfortunately, Windows 7 developers deemed the toolbar unworthy.

DuhGreek
DuhGreek

? Select file/folder to copy/move ? Ctrl+C (to copy) or Ctrl+X (to move) ? Select destination ? Ctrl+V (to paste) Done! These are standard throughout Windows applications, be they browsers, word processers, spreadsheets, etc. Combine keyboard shortcuts with mouse navigation and you possess a most basic and useful skill.

f.stephens
f.stephens

Not being a professional computer person, I use both the drag & drop and the move to - copy to from the right click. I just moved to Win7 and its' associated office programs in MSO-2007, so am still learning. Have fun!

charles
charles

I have tried all the Windows methods of file manipulation but always end up using Total Commander. Anyone who in the past used the dos version of Norton Commander will feel giddy about this Ghisler work of art. When we load software in our office we load in this order, the OS, then Total Commander, then remaining programs. The built in FTP client works nicely also along with many other features. http://www.ghisler.com/

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I use the Drag N Drop most of the time. But I habitually use the right mouse button as it allows me to choose Move or Copy at the destination. BTW: The right mouse button Drag N Drop method has been available since at least NT.

joeschmo1of3
joeschmo1of3

I also use drag and drop to move files and folders, but this method only copies selected items to different volumes. Then I end up using cut and paste. Is there a way to add copy and move to folder commands in the "Organize" drop down menu?

Bapster
Bapster

For high-volume, background copying, I use Robocopy. (You can setup batch files, schedule jobs, etc.)

johncymru
johncymru

Fall short in some significant way that is. And yes I have tried just about all major OS variants available since the 70s, when I was an engineer working mainly on minicomputers.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

Even in Vista, I don't have anything resembling a "Standard Toolbar." There is a drop-down menu on the only toolbar there is, and it has copy and paste functions, but why use that when the right-click menu is easier? And hovering to expand the folders goes all the way back to XP. It's such an irritant that I will usually open my target folder in another window and drag and drop my file(s) from one window to the other. Then I found the TweakNow Power Pack, and it makes adding Copy to Folder and Move to Folder incredibly easy. Unfortunately, some of my other programs have also added their own entries on the context menu, so now when I right-click, the pop-up menu is often longer than the screen, so I have to scroll down to click on some of the items. It has also made some duplicate shortcut keys - I can no longer simply right-click and hit "C" for Copy, or "T" for cuT, because there is more than one entry that uses each letter, and no simple remedy for it. That has also pushed me to open my target folder in a new window. It seems the more they try to simplify things, the more complicated they become. Can we just go back to DOS?

dogknees
dogknees

The issue I've had with this since it was introduced to Explorer is that it isn't consistent. If I copy a piece of text in Word or anywhere else, I can then paste it into another document or other application. If I copy a piece of a picture in Photoshop, I can paste it into other applications. Why can't I paste a copied file into another application. If the file is "copied" to the clipboard, I could. But it isn't. It should let me select a dozen Word files and paste them into a Word document or an Excel sheet, or wherever I want the text from them to appear. It just breaks the consistency of the clipboard metaphor for me.

ngoetz
ngoetz

Once you use it and add some of the great plug ins. You wonder how you got along without it.

The Joat
The Joat

Figured it wouldn't take long for someone to mention this. Been using that right button for years. We're using windows people, not Mac OS. We have two buttons on our mouse.

dogknees
dogknees

You can use Drag and Drop to either copy or move. Just do it with the right mouse button rather than the left and you get a menu when you drop. My preference is to use D'n'D, but it can be frustrating when on a terminal services connection as the update is too slow.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

... if you want to copy an entire directory tree, only without copying any files. For some bizarre reason, the Windows GUI doesn't provide a way to do that.

bcjinsantafe
bcjinsantafe

like delCERAY, 7 started out by telling me i didnt have authority to enter a lot of my folders when i used My Computer and i ended up deleting a lot of stuff in an effort to make it over into XP and now, suspect i have injured it badly. I can't really feel all that sorry for it, but do for me.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...it acts like NT 3.1 with several generations of GUI 'development'? :) (Gasp!) I _never_ thought of that!

deICERAY
deICERAY

You would think after all these Windowed years that they would get something right, but file management is still a pathetic process in Windows; in fact, in some ways it's gotten worse. When I read a directory from a external source - flash media, USB stick, external drive - it's slower than it ever was, and if I work with those files, say a copy/paste to another directory, AFTER the procedure, I then right-click/delete them, but guess what - they don't go away. They show up still there , still selected, still visible, but they are NOT really there, I have to refresh the view to see that they have been deleted. Also, it took an amazing amount of research and maybe it's just too simple, stupid for me, but it took months to discover what they did with the "create new folder" command - why would you ever need that anyway, they must have wondered. And the system is forever synchronizing files, and the search is the slowest it has ever been, and I'm running a quad core Phenom system. I search for say "album" and I get first to wait... then to watch a pretty greenish blue line slowly, inexorably creep across the top of the window, and then sometimes the results are bizarre, in that it mixes references, exact quotes, contexts, etc. and meantime I can't do anything else, all other windows if clicked in are whited out. Finally, after over a quarter of century in business, my operating system is still only capable of a single copy/paste function! Imagine paying all that money for an OS that can't store more than one instance of text in a clipboard at a time. You must, after over all this time and money invested in an OS, copy only one set of text at a time - you MUST immediately paste it, or you lose it on your next copy command. Why is it there are hundreds of programs that do the little things so much better than the OS, and yet the OS never "gets" it and improves the system? This version of Windows is pathetically unimpressive, and I'm seriously considering at least a double-boot system, if not a whole-scale rollback to XP - at least all my software WORKS in XP, whereas nothing before 2009 will run on my PC in 7. I spent thousands of dollars on software that sits on shelves and have been rendered useless by the OS. It's like buying a new car and finding out it takes a different gas, a different tire, a different oil, has to be washed in specially treated water, and the old steering wheel cover doesn't fit, and it doesn't play my old CDs, and doesn't even have a working radio. And after all this time and all these years, it doesn't even do a split screen display for drag and drop - the program has to be called up twice, and physically rearranged to support and display a drag and drop capability. It's just pathetically incompetent to have been working so long on an OS and have it wallowing in its own imperfections after all this time. Copy that.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I go back to ACAD Release 2, before AutoCAD had universal mouse support. We had no mouse. We had a large digitizer tablet with a stylus. You had to calibrate and configure your own layout, designating different areas on the tablet for menus, and even individual command buttons. Keyboard shortcuts like your Z+E for Zoom Extents, Z+A for Zoom All, Z+P for Zoom Previous, etc., were invaluable. With your going back to ACAD 9, you know, like the title of the article says, there are times when it is good to know how to do things the old tried and true way. Every day, I see further evidence that today's computer and software advances are producing a generation of less intelligent people who are getting farther ahead, profiting from the hard work, learning, and innovations of their predecessors, knowing only how to use, not how to create.

Andrzej_Ladosz
Andrzej_Ladosz

I started earning for living with AutoCAD 9 and 10 which was ?5 releases before Windows version came. Used "***Buttons" section of acad.mnu to customize buttons 2,3, and any other available with full use of modifiers [Ctrl], [Alt] and [Shift] plus their combinations. Command aliases solve many problems for new users (acad.pgp file). "Old-timers" would put (DEFUN C:ZE () (COMMAND "ZOOM" "E")) in acad.mnl and type 3 keys (Z, E and Spacebar) instead of "zoom" + [Enter/spacebar] + "E"(xtends) + [Enter/spacebar]... Today you edit .cui file to get the same end result--> SAVE TIME by SAVING KEYSTROKES. But ... today's users will be totally lost with perfectly working keyboard but without the mouse. Change the picture on the icon (or the Ribbon) and they are out. Sad, but their long fingernails are not the main reason for that.

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

I have a tilt-wheel mouse, and set up clicking the wheel as Copy, and right-tilt as Enter - useful in Excel. I rarely use the Copy button on the mouse, though, as my left hand stays on the keyboard and can hit Ctrl-C easily. But with the left-tilt as the Back command and the right-tilt as Enter, I can leave my right hand on the mouse for the majority of the time. Incidentally, as an AutoCAD user from ages past (when there was no ACAD for Windows), I learned the indispensible process of assigning aliases for frequently used commands: I use CC for Copy, MM for Mirror, AA for Array, etc. Never needed one for Erase - I got so I can type in the entire word and tap the spacebar in less time than most people take to click the mouse.

Andrzej_Ladosz
Andrzej_Ladosz

...on my 5-button (and 2-wheel!) mouse in the office. My 7-button mouse at home is configured similar way. Combined with [Shift] or [Ctrl] buttons those buttons #4 and #5 are even more useful/powerful. In some programs (AutoCAD for example) [Shift]+[button 4] let me "copy with base point". It is A LOT quicker than typing "_copybase" followed by "Enter" and some more clicks... Using modifiers [Shift], [Ctrl] or [Alt] - single or their combination - with various mouse buttons gives you even more flexibility than standard Windows (old or new) "standard" or "context sensitive" menus. For "normal" user it may be seen as too complicated on the beginning, but once you learn them - using those shortcuts is automatic. We musn't be afraid of using the keyboard TOGETHER with the mouse. Repetitive tasks are the best candidates to "build" them in mouse operation. Copy and Paste are probably the most frequently used actions performed on any PC."Delete" or "Erase" may be also popular commands, but I would not put them on my mouse...

user support
user support

This is a great tip to add copy to and move to on the shortcut menu. I use both the shortcut menu (right click) and keyboard command that have been around since DOS. I occassionally use drag and drop but the distance can't be too far otherwise the destination might not be reached and I will have to do extra work to get the files in the intended destination. I teach the users the commands mentioned in this article and like the idea of putting them on the shortcut menu. Our organization is still on Windows XP and is testing Windows 7. I will mention to the testers about enabling the menu bar. Menu bars have been around since DOS (age of the dinosaurs) when I learned and I could have a problem without them.

dleippe
dleippe

Why don't you just always right drag a file/folder to anywhere else and then answer the question from the popup menu when you release the item on its target..It's too hard to teach new/old students too many keyboard shortcuts, especially when they are crossing or not crossing partition/drive boundaries.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

When you drag a file to another folder on the same drive/device with the left mouse button, the default action is MOVE, but you can change that to COPY by holding down the CTRL key before you drop. (You'll see the "+" (copy) symbol appear next to the cursor.) Conversely, if you're dragging and dropping files to another drive, the default action is COPY, but here you can change it to MOVE by holding down the SHIFT key instead.