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?

  • 14
    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 M. Kitchen Feb 12 '14 at 2:49

10 Answers 10

Keyboard method: Cmd-C then Opt-Cmd-V does the cut&paste for files on Mac.

Mouse method: Drag the file from one folder to the parent of the target folder (ie, if moving to Documents:Financial, drag to Documents). Hover on the parent folder for a few seconds, and it will spring open. Then you can continue dragging the file to the target folder. (note, the mouse method may result in very long hover times, if you're dragging a huge number of files, eg 1,000 files)

Menu method: It's not part of the Apple menu system to 'cut' files. The menu Cut option is grayed out, and becomes enabled when text is selected. But not files. Here is an in-depth discussion on Apple's discussion forum.

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    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
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    "Command + C" then "Option + Command + v" does the cut\paste on Mac. So you don't need to have 2 Finder windows – Dmitriy Mar 29 '12 at 13:17
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    geotavros Command+C is copy, not cut. – iforce2d Jul 4 '14 at 0:19
  • @iforce2d: No, you are misunderstanding this subtle point. While it is true that Command+C is labeled as COPY, if you follow it with "OPTION+Command+v", the "OPTION" turns it into a MOVE. – ToolmakerSteve May 1 '15 at 21:52
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    You can also use: right click + Copy then Option + right click + "Move Item Here" – Gabriel Staples Dec 6 '17 at 23:12

The cut function is implemented in Lion and later as a result of modifying the paste command. If you copy a file as usual but instead hold down the key in addition to the normal paste 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.

You can also use: right click + Copy then Option + right click + "Move Item Here"

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


The thing that seems to be different is that CUT on OS X means it's gone now. Whereas cut on Windows means text goes away and files get copied for cutting on paste. The implementations seem quite similar for filesystem cut/paste operations in practice.

Assuming it's not a "patent thing", one could speculate that this is 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... – Timothy Mueller-Harder Feb 17 '12 at 21:32
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    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
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    @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
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    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. – Drazen Bjelovuk Oct 9 '14 at 20:11
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    @bmike. Not really. On Windows, users ALSO expect "cut to remove the selection" -- when working with TEXT, where that makes sense. Its a nice touch that in Windows, cutting FILES never results in an accidental deletion. But apparently Apple figures that Mac users are not smart enough to cope with this subtlety. So they force user to do extra work to move files (and FINALLY they got smart and made that extra work just be a triple-key-combination. Still stupid, but at least it exists.) – ToolmakerSteve May 1 '15 at 21:46

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.

  • 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. – Timothy Mueller-Harder Feb 17 '12 at 21:31
  • @timothymh - the discussion is about using cut+paste to MOVE A FILE, not about cutting TEXT within a file. – ToolmakerSteve May 1 '15 at 21:41
  • @toolmakersteve Yeah, I'm not sure how I misunderstood that. – Timothy Mueller-Harder May 2 '15 at 3:23

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

  • 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

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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  • Sadly Apple has locked down so much that TotalFinder has decided to call it quits as of El Capitan. Really sad because TotalFinder was my favorite Mac app. Damn you Apple. :-( – MikeSchinkel Feb 5 '16 at 11:06
  • That's a shame. You can still run, but it's not advised and the plugin doesn't have a long future. totalfinder.binaryage.com/system-integrity-protection. Tabs for me were the biggest need, and that's been in Finder since Mavericks – Aram Kocharyan Feb 6 '16 at 14:32

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.

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/

I believe cut in Finder is for cutting text. I don't believe Apple intended it to be for cutting files in that sense - that is purely a Windows paradigm. If you select a file and press enter, and then select edit -> cut - it should now work and no longer be greyed out. So cut does work. But the connotation of moving files from the windows user experience has apparently caused some confusion.

The lack of a simple and basic function such as cut n paste of folders and files on the same level as Windows is a damning indictment of Apple and makes a mockery of their supposed "give the people what they want" culture. It cannot be about resources or expertise because clearly it is trivial to implement. We are left to speculate that this is a misguided and stubborn refusal to compromise or be seen as imitating Windows. It is just daft. There are many good things about Apple products but this approach prevents them from being as good as they could be and is just unnecessary.

  • Despite there being multiple alternate methods to move files in finder, cut and paste has existed finder for about 6 years now. If you are stuck on 10.6 or earlier - editing into your answer it make it less wrong. – bmike Sep 14 '16 at 0:06
  • bmike forgot to mention that people sometimes prefer other ways of doing something. I don't like the way apple wants me to cut and paste files but I don't have options to change the shortcut. All these shitty "different" alternate methods suck and I totally agree with the "Guest 2016". – Armen Markossyan Sep 29 '16 at 8:13
  • I don't know what's happening, I have no time to read countless posts about such a simple thing. I only notice that the Cut command (with Cmd-X as a shortcut) is clearly present in the finder Edit drop down menu, but it seems to be always greyed out and inaccessible. If the motivation is "not to imitate" windows then basically what they're doing is providing the same functionality then Windows but throwing in one or two bewildering annoyances just so it would be different then windows. – Rolf Nov 7 '16 at 15:50

another way is to use XtraFinder, there are many nice features including "cut"

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