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On OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), I don't seem to be able to us the "Cut" command on a file in the Finder, like you can do in Windows Explorer on Microsoft Windows. (In Windows, once you select a file and "cut" it, you can then move to a different directory and "paste" the file to that location.)

The only way I can move a file using keyboard or contextual menu commands is to copy the file to another drive or location and then delete the old version of the file.

In the Finder's 'Edit' menu, 'Cut' is in the list but if a file itself is selected, it is always greyed out. 'Copy' is not. Why is this?

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Are you going to accept an answer for this question? RobZoikos's is correct and highly-voted, in addition to a plethora of other good answers. One of the key facets of Stack Exchange sites is accepting answers: do your part! –  CajunLuke Feb 18 '12 at 4:35
I think bmike's answer is better. You can 'move' files/folders by copying with command-C and paste it with command+option+V. It's just like a cut and paste (it's copy and paste with no duplicate). –  Denis Feb 12 '14 at 2:49

8 Answers 8

It's not part of the Apple system to 'cut' files. The option is there and becomes enabled when text is selected. But not files.

Here is an in-depth discussion on Apples discussion forum.

To move a file, open two finder windows and drag the file from one window to another. This is the 'Apple' way. Drag and drop.

"Command + C" then "Option + Command + V" does the cut\paste for files on Mac. So you don't need to have 2 Finders

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Thanks :) Much Appreciated. –  Marty Apr 19 '11 at 11:32
Drag and drop s*cks for power users. Lion 'Finally' fixes it with cmd+c --> cmd+option+v, see other answers. –  Ben Oct 21 '11 at 17:44
"Command + C" then "Option + Command + v" does the cut\paste on Mac. So you don't need to have 2 Finder windows –  geotavros Mar 29 '12 at 13:17
geotavros Command+C is copy, not cut. –  iforce2d Jul 4 '14 at 0:19

The cut function is implemented in Lion and later as a result of modifying the paste command. If you mark the files with copy as usual, but instead hold down the key in addition to the normal past command - it retroactively cuts the original files as well as placing them in the new destination.

++V = paste + cut in Lion.

This makes an accidental cut and no subsequent paste event less likely.

On Snow Leopard and earlier, the cut function is not part of Finder.

The reasoning for this could be a do no harm design standpoint. Why cut something and then potentially lose or misplace it? Imagine the harm if you selected a few hundred files to copy them (or duplicate them) but inadvertently hit the X key. Instead of forcing you to realize a cat or toddler has cut a whole folder of files, the cut only happens when you paste with the option key held down to paste and then cut in one action.

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'Course, there's always ⌘Z... –  timothymh Feb 17 '12 at 21:32
Since when do you lose files if you cut them? In windows, if you cut files and never paste, they just stay where they are. Indeed, cut & paste is exactly the same as this copy & "paste special", except the intent to eventually move is specified with the first command (cut) instead of the 2nd. –  Claudiu Oct 31 '13 at 0:59
@Claudiu On OS X - users expect cut to remove the selection. It's a different implementation, idiom, and thought process/set of assumptions between how windows implements cut and OS X implements cut. –  bmike Oct 31 '13 at 11:49
@bmike: Oh I see your point. on windows, cutting on text does remove the text, true. on files it just prepares them for moving without actually changing them. i never noticed that as an inconsistency before. i'm pretty sure osx & win do cut exactly the same except with respect to files. –  Claudiu Oct 31 '13 at 15:51
I still don't see why they couldn't just use ⌘X instead of requiring a three key combo to retroactively cut the thing on the damn paste command. In windows, when you cut a file, it fades a bit, so the feedback is still there and it works beautifully. –  Josh Bjelovuk Oct 9 '14 at 20:11

There is no native way to Cut in Finder.
It has always been that way. Why? We don't know.

I believe the Cut you're talking about is either standard on an Edit but it will most likely become available when you rename a file.

Bottom line is, you can't cut & paste files natively in Mac OS X.

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Thanks :) Much Appreciated. –  Marty Apr 19 '11 at 11:30
What? Yes you can... select any text in a text box in Safari, or in a TextEdit document. Those are native apps, and Cut works fine. –  timothymh Feb 17 '12 at 21:31

Actually, in Lion, cut is now available as part of the Finder. Copy as usual with +C and (cut-)Paste with ++V.

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What was the shortcut... Couldn't work it our :/ –  Marty Jul 28 '11 at 7:08
I edited my answer. Try it again! –  andersmoldin Jul 28 '11 at 11:53

If you like cut and paste more than drag and drop I'd recommend to install MoveAddict. It brings cut and paste to the Finder, even with toolbar support. I am using MoveAddict for some time now and I am quite happy with it.

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As others have mentioned, there is no cutting of files in Finder. However, if you think you're mind is able to handle such a notion, you can use TotalFinder, which I highly recommend. It also sports tabs, showing hidden files, split views and even has the option to add cut-copy-paste buttons in the context menu.

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There's a cool little plugin now for Finder that adds — among other missing features (enter to open file, folders before files, tabs, etc.) — cut'n'paste functionality like we're used to from any other OS.

It's free, actually! I previously used PathFinder which is a paid app, but this time around I really didn't want to install it, as it doesn't integrate very well with OS X (Finder and PathFinder running simultaneously, gesture to reveal desktop giving an empty screen, ...). This one just adds stuff to Finder instead of installing an extra app. You do have to run XtraFinder to configure, though :)

Check it out: http://www.trankynam.com/xtrafinder/

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Cut isn't always disabled. Select just part of a file name and then click the Edit menu: you should see the Cut command enabled. (To be fair, I'm looking at MacOS X 10.6.6, but I doubt very much that the Finder changed in this respect.)

More to the point, MacOS X applications are expected to always provide a number of standard commands in their Edit menu, even if they don't support those commands. Cut, Copy, Paste, and Undo are at the top of the list. See the Human Interface Guidelines for details.

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This is in regard to Cutting text, though, not Cutting files. –  timothymh Feb 17 '12 at 21:33
@TimothyMueller-Harder Yes, but the point stands: the Cut command isn't always disabled. It's disabled when you select a file because Finder doesn't let you cut a file. It does let you copy a file, so the Copy command is enabled when you select a file. –  Caleb Feb 17 '12 at 22:47
True, but cutting text is still completely irrelevant. –  timothymh Feb 17 '12 at 23:07
The question is "why is 'cut' always grayed out in finder?", not "why is 'cut' always grayed out in finder when I select a file?". My answer points out that it is not, in fact, always grayed out in Finder. It goes on to explain why that item might be present even if never enabled. Quoting from HIG: "Even if your application doesn’t handle text editing within its documents, the expected Edit commands should be available for use in dialogs and wherever users can edit text." I don't think either of those points is "completely irrelevant." –  Caleb Feb 18 '12 at 2:11

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