Is there any way to to tell Finder to default to moving rather than copying files from my main system disk to another disk?

My main system disk is too small and I have a secondary 'main' disk which I use for media, larger files and the like. I know I can hold down Command to change the behaviour transfer by transfer, but sometimes I forget or hit the wrong key or Finder just decides it'll do a copy anyway. Move, rather than copy, is almost always what I want when transferring files between these two disks so that would be a better default for me.

  • Good question actually, I have never seen an option to change the default behaviour, hence my answer.
    – Overbryd
    May 27, 2015 at 22:15
  • There is no way to change this behavior. The only time Move is the default is when it is between two folders on the same partition.
    – tubedogg
    May 28, 2015 at 4:01
  • Also note that sometimes it takes a moment for Finder to catch up with what you are trying to do, and it may not catch the Command key modifier. Press and hold Command until the green plus sign disappears from the cursor (again, may take a few seconds), then release the mouse button and Command key. This should ensure it is a move and not a copy.
    – tubedogg
    May 28, 2015 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


As far as I am concerned, there is no way to change the default behaviour.

  1. Keyboard

    Make your selection in Finder and hit CMD+C. Open the target folder and hit CMD+Alt+V and Finder will move the files to your desired location.

  2. Mouse

    Hold CMD while you drop your selection to the target folder. Mac OSX will then move the files instead of copying.

Personally, I prefer using the keyboard when moving around large selections.

  • I don't find it tedious at all. You're advocating the Windows preferred method of copying files (with a Mac-only slant), which is fine and all, but it certainly doesn't have any advantage over dragging and dropping. (especially in OS X, which supports it well). It's a matter of preference, and this doesn't answer the question. May 27, 2015 at 23:33
  • For some use cases drag/drop is tedious, and I use keyboard copy/paste for that. However, in others a mouse drag/drop is quicker and easier. For example moving one or a small group of files into an unopened folder on my desktop. Most of the time, I'm just moving one or two files to a new place.
    – rowatt
    May 28, 2015 at 7:04
  • If you drag & drop while holding down Command, it performs a cut/paste. May 28, 2015 at 13:18
  • @Froggard, there is no way to change the Finder default behaviour, hence my answer. I also commented on the question regarding this point. I updated my answer to show both available options, and clearly stated that keyboard is my personal preference.
    – Overbryd
    May 28, 2015 at 22:51

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