Microsoft

Start using Vista's hidden Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands


Last week, I described how to use and customize Vista's SendTo command to make your file management tasks easier. While you can easily add any destination you want to the SendTo menu, there is one feature missing: the ability to send to any folder you want on the fly. If you may remember, back in the Windows 95 days, there was a PowerToy called SendTo X that included an option called the Any Folder. Using the SendTo | Any Folder command, you could move or copy files or folders anywhere you wanted simply by right-clicking the icons and then choosing the desired location from the resulting dialog box. Unfortunately, after Windows 95 faded into history, so did the SendTo X PowerToy.

The next best thing -- the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands -- have been incorporated in Vista. In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how to expose these hidden commands and how to use them to your advantage when performing file management operations.

Exposing the commands

You can find the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands on the Edit menu in Windows Explorer and Computer. Further masking their existence is the fact that, by default, the Menu bar also may be hard to find 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, which you can do by pressing press [Alt]. The Menu Bar will drop down and allow you to select one of the commands -- but as soon as you do, the Menu Bar will disappear again.

If you want to be able to access the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands readily, it's preferable to have the Menu Bar visible all of the time. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Click the arrow next to the Organize icon on the toolbar.
  2. Open the Layout submenu.
  3. Select Menu Bar (Figure A). When you do, a check mark will appear next to the Menu Bar item.

Figure A

Figure A

You can make the Menu Bar visible all of the time from the Layout submenu.

Now you can easily access and pull down the Edit menu to reveal the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands (Figure B). Keep in mind that the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands will only be available if you have a file or a folder selected; otherwise, the commands will be grayed out and unavailable.

Figure B

Figure B

You'll find the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands on the Edit menu.

Using the commands

Using the Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands is the same regardless of whether you're copying or moving files or folders. Here's how to copy a file from one location to another:

  1. Select the file or files that you want to copy.
  2. Pull down the Edit menu and select the Copy To Folder command. When you do, you'll see the Copy Items dialog box (Figure C), where you can browse potential destinations.

Figure C

Figure C

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

  1. Navigate the tree to select between drives, folders, and network resources.
  2. If you then want to copy the files to a new folder, click the Make New Folder button and a new folder will appear (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

To create a new folder in your desired destination, use the Make New Folder button.

  1. Once you give the folder a name, click the Copy button.

The Move To Folder command works the same -- except rather than copying files and folders it moves them. The only differences are that the dialog box's title is Move Items, the button's label is Move (Figure E), and it contains a Make New Folder button.

Figure E

Figure E

The Move Items dialog box works similarly to the Copy Items dialog box.

What's your take?

Now that you know where that Copy To Folder and Move To Folder commands are hiding, will you make use of them? If not, why? Stop by the discussion area and let us know what you think.

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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.

22 comments
george.ancestry
george.ancestry

I continued to install in client systems and personally use the Power Toy's Send To application through the various versions of 98, NT 4.0, 2K & XP. I have not seen nor heard from anyone of a problem related to the applet.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I went to this site: http://www.helpwithwindows.com/windowsxp/tune-22.html and follwed these directions. It's a registry modification which makes you do these steps. 1. Start the Registry Editor 2. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ AllFilesystemObjects \ shellex \ ContextMenuHandlers \ 3. Right-click the ContextMenuHandlers entry, and from the menu select New > Key 4. Name the new key Copy To 5. Repeat step 3, but this time for the name (step 4) choose Move To 6. Change the (Default) string value found in the Copy To key to {C2FBB630-2971-11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13} 7. Change the (Default) string value found in the Move To key to {C2FBB631-2971-11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13} 8. Close the registry editor In any event, thanks to the original poster on that site. It's just another reason for me to stave off using Vista. Have fun!

DavidHarrisLH
DavidHarrisLH

Ok - but with XP there were icons one could add to Windows Explorer to do Copy, Paste, Copy to, Move to. These have disappeared from Vista: there doesn't seem to be a way of customising the icons above the window below the Menu bar

crawk
crawk

There are other and easier ways to copy and move folders, but the most important thing I got from this article was the uncovering of that menu bar and the general concept of controlling the layout and organization. From there, you can do anything. I'm still pretty new to Vista, but absolutely hate that development teams think they should decide for me what I do or do not want to see.

Paul Gronowski
Paul Gronowski

Any way to use a short-cut key to perform these copy and move commands?

Savon19
Savon19

WHY would the menu bar be hidden in the first place?? Crazy.

gdunger
gdunger

I had been using this for the longest time before I tripped over the bug this creates. If you try to do something with multiple files in Explorer or use the Explore or Open context menu of a folder, then MoveTo and CopyTo dialogs open successively before the desired action. You can cancel the dialogs, but there may be many depending on what you've done. The solution (found somewhere 'out there' ..) is to put the CopyTo and MoveTo keys in HKCR\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers.

harashji
harashji

Thanks a lot dear Adam and the original poster, you made my life easy.It is such a useful command, I don't why Microsoft Engineers did not notice it.

seanferd
seanferd

Nice call Greg and Adam! I've been doing regedit for the turned-off Copy to/ Move to for years on different versions of Windows. I don't know about Vista, but I've installed the Send To X Powertoy on 95, 98, and XP. Here's the catch - it will break the Send To Desktop (create shortcut) extension. You can edit the registry to fix this (as I have been doing) or you can go to this site I found last month and download a registry fix to merge into the reg. http://aumha.org/regfiles.php They have some other goodies too, but you would want snd2xfix2.zip for XP, or snd2xfix.zip for a Win 9x machine. Includes a file to change the default action for REG files from Merge to Edit (which I always do anyway). Also, the Powertoy will add several Send To (email type) shortcuts, you can delete the ones you don't want or uninstall them from Control Panel. If you like a clean registy, you will have to manually remove the entries for the ones you deleted. Target context menu extension anyone? Nice for those desktop shortcuts.

nighthawk808
nighthawk808

Use KDE. It's had this for years, right out of the box.

ljriese
ljriese

Thank you immensely for this tip. I have been wanting this since the demise of Win95, as it was the most useful PowerToy. And I even used it up through Win 2000, even though the PowerToy destroyed your ability to create a desktop shortcut for some reason. Why can't this be a standard option? And I agree with another poster who hates for development teams to "tell" me what I should and should not see... Or at least if they must cater to the majority, let it available to customize. Thanks again. Best tip ever! lj

GBot
GBot

THAT'S the tip I was looking for. Right-click access is fantastic because it remembers the folder location (which is helpful for those tedious to find locations). I can always just drag and drop to the desktop or to any of the Favorites in the right hand pane... It's the way all the cool kids do it ;)

techrepublic
techrepublic

While I understand that you want to decide what to see or not, your statement has one big problem. It is and will always be the developer who decides. Now M$ has chosen not to show the menubar and apparently you don't like it (probably because you're used to see it). But if Vista would still show it by default, then also it would be a M$ decision. And certainly there would also be people not happy with it (those that had it hidden in XP for example). I do feel however that M$ should let the user decide more. There a hundreds of litte (or a bit bigger) tweaks that you can do in Vista (or any other M$ OS for that matter). While M$ does have to set a default for each one of them, they should provide an easy tool which lists all of them and where you set each tweak the way YOU want. A bit like PowerToys, but not only for the "special" ones. Also for the "simple" things. I imagine this tool like a long catagorized list of "before" and "after" images with a checkbox and possibly a wizard. Many of the simple thing are not known to the majority of users. Most of us just don't know what is possible. Well in this tool you could really see in how many ways Vista can be set to your onw liking. That would bring the power of Vista to the user. Wishful thinking probably, Bill...

dalesdesigns
dalesdesigns

I am also new to Vista and didn't know where that command was in Vista but used it frequently in XP. I am wondering why it takes so long (5-10 seconds sometimes) to open the menu when you right click a folder on the desktop.

janly
janly

It would be better and more useful if it was in the Send To command. It is also less mouse movement. I prefer my WinExplorer without the menu on top.

jim
jim

I don't know if I am missing somthig here, why not open 2 windows and drag and drop???

frank_s
frank_s

Well the logic for default setting being hidden for the menu bar in IE7 was for a "cleaner, less cluttered look" according to the IE team blog--I expect the reasoning is the same for Windows Explorer in Vista. Personally, I have the menu bars displayed for both.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

This is one of the things I've noticed over the years with different types of software usage. When you think of it though; it would not be advantageous of them to back-port new features into an older version of a product to simply satisfy their customer base. In essence it's all about making money and they would much rather make a new product look better so it'll sell better than a proven one which isn't earning them as much. In addition , it also demonstrates a lack of forsight on the MS developers insight because Apple/MAC whatever had this option in their software menus before MS, correct?

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

That sounds like an interesting tool( Powertoy ) to use on different windows OS's, Thanks for the update. Inquiry? What are you using the Win9x series for lately? Despite everybody using the newer systems to meet their computing needs, why are you still using WIn9x for? I am interested because even though 98/ME are kinda outdated they still can be used for something( they still work)? Any suggestions?

hesseljh
hesseljh

If I am in windows Explorer, I always have the Folders open in the Explorer Bar and I just highlight the folder on the right and drag it to the folder on the left. Or a right click gives the copy option.

seanferd
seanferd

Yep, I still have a 98 machine operating. Also XP Pro, and various Linux distros (old Red Hat Shrike is my main, still), also Minix 3. A variety of very old DOS machines are pretty much mothballed. Why Win98? Mostly because I am a fan of old tech. You can still get tons of old (even new) apps for free, and it is pretty stable. I probably would not use it in a networked production environment, but I still find it amusing to run sometimes. I also do some support for people who still use it, so it helps out in that respect. I don't like to throw out hardware (if no-one else wants it, I'll keep it), and older Win versions will run on these old machines as well as Linux. Aside from 98, a lot of folks still use DOS in small businesses for billing and inventory,etc., as there is no real reason for them to move to something else. Getting a new system with a newer OS will do nothing to increase their productivity. Anyway, why Win98? Mostly for amusement purposes only. Hope you are having a good holiday season. :)