I was recently helping somebody move their Mac's information to Google Drive, and the best solution turned out to be using the Google Drive client for Mac. I moved the relevant files to their Google Drive volume in Finder, then created a few aliases from some folders inside Drive back to the Desktop.

We discovered a small issue when attempting to drag files into the folder aliases: Files will copy, as opposed to move to the destination. The person that I was helping is accustomed to the behavior of a real folder, where files move into a folder when they're dragged on top of it. I believe that this is because the alias refers to a folder on a (technically) removable volume, so the alias is treated the same way as a removable USB drive would be.

Is there a way to configure Finder so that it will prefer to move files when dragging them to external volumes, as opposed to creating a copy? I specifically want to find a way to make this happen automatically, as opposed to using keyboard shortcuts.

  • Pointing out that the "copy vs move" paradigm isn't anything to do with an "external" drive, it is that the destination is on a different filesystem from the source. Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


No, there is no way to change the default option from “copy” to “move”.

Even the option to “move” with a keyboard shortcut is a fairly new feature.

  • You call 8+ years fairly new? :)
    – needlol
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 6:19

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