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Example:

  • Select 10x2GB files, then drag and drop to another location.
  • Drag and drop each 2GB file to the location individually, in succession (10 times).

I’ve tested this across multiple OS X versions and Apple computers, and the latter example always executes faster.

  • Why’s the drag and drop sequential fashion faster?
  • That said, why doesn’t Finder just execute batch operations in the same manner? I must be missing something(s)…

Note: This is a question that teeters on the edge of not being within the bounds of this site, yet nonetheless, one worth asking :)


The results are the same regardless of the order (batch/manual) in which it's performed.

  • Specify in your original question if you are running a multi-processor:  > About This Mac > System Report... > Hardware. – dan May 15 '16 at 8:34
  • Specify in your original question how you avoided between your 2 first copies to take advantage of the system cache? – dan May 15 '16 at 8:41
  • @danielAzuelos Yes…quad core 2.6Ghz i7. Same result on a dual core iMac from 07. – njboot May 15 '16 at 8:44
  • Then if your system is nearly empty (just the Kernel, the Finder plus a few screenfull of standard daemons) parallel operations might perform nearly 4 times faster than sequential ones. – dan May 15 '16 at 8:48
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    Why have you not answered daniel Azuelos question, "Specify in your original question how you avoided between your 2 first copies to take advantage of the system cache?"? Are you rebooting between the batch test and individual files test? Are you copying just to another place on the internal drive or to an external drive? If external, what type is it? – user3439894 May 15 '16 at 13:59
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I think in your example you are copying all files to the same disk. If the finder is trying to write to multiple places (or reading from multiple places) on the same hard drive, it will be slowed down by drive access times. It is easier (faster) to read (or write) one whole file at a time rather than ten files at the same time.

You can observe similar behavior if you are compressing video to a smaller codec. If you choose to export to the same disk that you are reading your source file from, your export will go much slower than exporting to another drive.

You could re-do your test using 3 separate disks (provided those disks were not being accessed across the same bus (USB3/Thunderbolt, etc.). That might be interesting to test.

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