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Windows tip of the week

Drag and drop secrets

By Ed Bott

One of the greatest time-saving shortcuts in the GUI era is dragging and dropping files between File Explorer windows. It's the fastest way to copy a bunch of files from your local hard drive to a USB flash drive, for example. But getting the results you want can be tricky unless you understand how Windows handles drag-and-drop actions.

If the current location and the destination are on the same physical drive, dragging a file or folder moves it.

If the current location and the destination are on different physical drives, dragging a file or folder copies it.

To change this default behavior, hold down Ctrl as you drag the objects you want to move or copy.

To create a shortcut in the destination folder, hold down Alt as you drag the file or folder.

And if you'd rather not memorize those shortcuts, here's a foolproof way to get exactly the results you want: Use the right mouse button to drag objects between folders. When you drop them, Windows displays a menu that lets you choose whether you want to move, copy, or create a shortcut.

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