I’ve noticed that if I have two folders of the same name but different files in each, copying one on top of the other (eg: from different parent locations) will cause the contents of the first folder to be wiped out by the second. Windows does not do this; It merges the contents of the two folders, making the operation far less destructive. On Mac it feels very risky.

Why is this? Is it an option which can be changed?

  • how do you merge folders – Ruskes Oct 10 '18 at 21:33
  • As described; By copying a folder with the same name as another to the same location. – Matt W Oct 10 '18 at 21:36

Merge two folders with the same name

If you have two folders with identical names at two different locations, you can merge them into a single folder.

Press and hold the Option key, then drag one folder to the location that contains a folder with the same name. In the dialog that appears, click Merge.

The Merge option appears only if one of the folders contains items that are not in the other folder. If the folders contain different versions of identically named files, the only options are Stop or Replace.

  • 2
    Is there a way to configure Merge as the default? – Matt W Oct 10 '18 at 21:37
  • 1
    as default what ? – Ruskes Oct 10 '18 at 21:38
  • 1
    To make that the action performed without holding Option? – Matt W Oct 10 '18 at 21:44
  • probably more complicated then simply pressing option – Ruskes Oct 10 '18 at 21:44
  • This really doesn't make sense. If you are merging two folders, it is clear that the intent is for the folders to be merged, no matter if there are two files with the same name. Just automatically rename them (appending a number denoting the number of the copy). I absolutely love Mac OS, but certain decisions really don't make any sense. I had to use ditto to do this. This is standard file management, shouldn't need to use a console command to do it. – thephpdev Jan 30 at 11:02

On macOS Mojave, if you try to paste a folder with some name (let's say My Folder) into a different folder, let's say which is called Parent Folder, which contains a folder with the same name as the folder you are copying (i.e. My Folder), then one of two things will happen:

  1. If the folder you are pasting contains the same files as the folder you are trying to paste over (i.e. the My Folder inside the Parent Folder), then you will be asked to "Stop" the operation or to "Replace" the folder.

  2. If the folder you are pasting contains different items from the the folder you are trying to paste over, then you will be given both of the options from 1., but also an option to "Merge" the folders. According to macOS, this is what merging does:

Merge will combine the two folders, preserving all the newer items such as “My Picture.png”.

You also seem to be saying that macOS doesn't warn you before replacing folders. macOS's default behavior is to show you a dialog box with "Stop" and "Replace" (as in situation 1) or with "Stop", "Replace", and "Merge" (as in situation 2).

  • I’m saying it’s not clear when this happens, from the POV of a windows user as the process there is always merge. – Matt W Oct 10 '18 at 22:20
  • I do agree with that. Maybe macOS could benefit from letting the user know that the folders contain the same files if the merge option doesn't come up. – Skeleton Bow Oct 12 '18 at 13:04
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    That doesn't work with macOS Sierra (10.14.x). In Icon view, Option + drag creates a new folder (for instance, Kittens 2); in list view, this gives the prompt dialog with the Replace button. – pyb May 24 at 3:11
  • This doesn't work on Mojave. I have the same folder 'foo' in a parent folder called 'work' and inside a folder called 'data' in my project. When I press Option and drag the foo folder from 'work' to 'data', I choose 'Merge' but nothing happens. The 'foo' folder inside the 'data' folder still has the old information – franksands Sep 10 at 19:03

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