When I try to move a file to my WD My Passport Ultra external drive it just copies the file. It doesn't actually move them. What can I do to fix this?

  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different. Can you update your question with how you're moving the file?
    – fsb
    Nov 18, 2016 at 19:59
  • Please fix your headline: "I am running on Mac os x El capitain version 10.11.3" is no question!
    – klanomath
    Nov 18, 2016 at 21:46
  • If you're dragging and dropping via Finder from one volume to another, then press and hold the command key while doing so and this will move the file instead of copying it. In the future, please include all relevant details in your question and read How do I ask a good question?! Nov 18, 2016 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


To move a file to a different drive from the one it is on drag the file to the new location while holding down the Command key. The green '+' sign on the cursor should not be displayed.

To create an alias hold down Command-Option while dragging the file. A curved arrow icon will be added to the cursor to indicate an alias will be made.

  • There is nothing in the OP about creating an alias and since Reynaldo is apparently trying to move a file it make even less sense to include instruction on how to make an alias. Nov 18, 2016 at 22:38

Short answer

Most people just copy the files to the other drive and then remove them from the original drive. However, you can also use CommandC (or Edit Menu > Copy) to copy the file(s) and then paste them to your other drive using the OptionCommandV shortcut instead of the usual paste shortcut.

Long answer

Since you provided no detail on how you're trying to move the file, this answer assumes you're doing this via the standard Mac OS X El Capitan GUI.

The reason the file is being copied rather than moved is that you're moving it from one drive to another drive. Doing this implicitly means you're wanting to copy it rather than move it (this is how many people transfer documents and manually backup files).

If the files were moved by default, rather than copied, this would create a messy situation to try and keep track of. This also isn't what most people would expect, so the user experience would be shocking.

Imagine this: You spend a day working on a PowerPoint presentation and then want to put it onto a USB stick to take to a meeting. Would you expect the file to be moved or copied? If it's moved and you lose the USB stick, then what?

  • And this is the same behavior in Windows - but here you have the CTRL+X and then CTRL+V to cut and past the file(s). Nov 19, 2016 at 8:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .