Consider the following scenario. You're working in Windows XP and need to copy a large number of files from one directory to another. Unfortunately, the target directory contains many files that are also stored in the source directory. When you drag the files from the source to the target directory, Windows XP alerts you that a file exists in the target location with the same filename as one you're trying to copy. It also asks you whether it should replace the existing file or not, as shown in Figure A.
You don't want to replace the duplicate file and click No. Windows promptly gives you another Confirm File Replacement warning. You click No again, and are rewarded with a third file replacement warning message. See a pattern!
If you were working in Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Mac OS X, you could easily tell the operating system not to replace the duplicate file and to apply that action to all the other duplicates. Windows XP however, doesn't give you a "No to All" or "Apply to All" option, just a "Yes to All", which would replace all the duplicate files and isn't the action we want.
You could repeatedly press or hold down the N key while Windows works its way through the list of files, but this requires you to sit at the machine during the copy process and can take a long time if you're working with several hundred duplicates. You could also click the mouse for each popup, but again this takes a really long time and is likely to give you hand cramps. You could install a third-party utility or write a custom script to handle the copy process, but there is a simpler way.
So, here's the question: How can you say "no to all" replacements when copying files in Windows XP?
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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.