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
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 4:35
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    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). Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 2:49
  • It is simply not possible because the keyboard shortcut for Cut (⌘X) is not enabled for filesystem items in Finder. You'll need to ask Apple why they have not enabled Cut (⌘X) for filesystem items in Finder. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 23:53

12 Answers 12


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.
    – user160917
    Commented Oct 21, 2011 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
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 13:17
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    geotavros Command+C is copy, not cut.
    – iforce2d
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 0:19
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    @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. Commented May 1, 2015 at 21:52
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    You can also use: right click + Copy then Option + right click + "Move Item Here" Commented Dec 6, 2017 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 and hold down the key in addition to the normal paste command.

++V = paste + cut in macOS

This retroactively cuts the original file(s) and pastes them in the new folder.

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...
    – Tuesday
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 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
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 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. Commented Oct 9, 2014 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.) Commented May 1, 2015 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.
    – Tuesday
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 21:31
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    @timothymh - the discussion is about using cut+paste to MOVE A FILE, not about cutting TEXT within a file. Commented May 1, 2015 at 21:41
  • @toolmakersteve Yeah, I'm not sure how I misunderstood that.
    – Tuesday
    Commented May 2, 2015 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
    Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 7:08
  • I edited my answer. Try it again!
    – molle
    Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 11:53
  • NOt working anymore 2023 Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 8:07

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.

enter image description here

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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. :-( Commented Feb 5, 2016 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 Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 14:32
  • I've had to say goodbye to TotalFinder today since installing Mojave, I tried to convince myself I could be ok without SIP but couldn't risk it. I didn't even know the normal 'cut & paste' method for files wasn't part of the OS! Came here trying to work out where cut went in Mojave! Seems I'm doomed to big clunky tabs, no visor shortcut (Flash Finder helps) and now, stupid option comand v paste to cut. (is this like the press start to shutdown lunacy of windows?)
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 14:04
  • XtraFinder was a life saver, but that's gone too, as of Catalina 10.15.4 :(
    – Shiyaz
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 11:32

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/


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.


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 might make it more useful or less likely to be down voted.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 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". Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 8:13
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    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
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 15:50
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    @rolf - I’ll save you a lot of searching - command / option / v is how to copy->cut+paste
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 17:43

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.


Insofar as files are concerned, "cut and paste" is "move" by a different name. With Finder, as you have likely noticed, there is a rule behind its behavior during drag-and-drop operations on files:

if you drag-and-drop to the same volume: move is default.

if you drag-and-drop to a different volume: copy is default.

This is the default behavior. If you want to change the default behavior, here's how to do that:

holding the command key while dragging changes copy to move.

holding the option key while dragging changes move to copy.

I agree with this opinion that this is not intuitive - perhaps even convoluted. But it's been that way for a while now & unlikely to change. The good news is this: If you find it tedious to remember this, one option is to use mv or cp from the CLI.


If you don't want to use Cmd-C and Opt-Cmd-V, check out my free Command X app, which lets you press Cmd-X to cut files and Cmd-V to paste.

  • This is your app which you are promoting. See “How Not to Be A Spammer” specifically the “over promotion” section
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 20:34
  • @Allan The only spammer here is you with your comments. I am not just posting a link to my product, but I am explaining how the product solves the problem in the original question, which is allowed. Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 20:38
  • You must disclose your affiliation with the product per the Expected Behavior which can be found in our Help center.
    – Allan
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 20:49

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

  • XtraFinder was a life saver, but that's gone too, as of Catalina 10.15.4 :(
    – Shiyaz
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 11:32

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