OS X Lion: Cut and Paste (Finally!)

It’s been approximately 87 years since Mac users started complaining about the lack of cut-and-paste functionality for files in the Finder. In Snow Leopard, you could sorta-kinda simulate it by holding down the Command key as you dragged a file, but with Lion, the gods have finally blessed us with a simple keyboard shortcut to move an item instead of copying it. I love you, Apple, but it’s about darned time.

Mac OS X assumes that if you’re dragging an item onto another volume—an external hard drive, a flash drive, a separate partition on your Mac, or even a disk image—you want to copy that item rather than moving it, much to the frustration of many. In Windows, folks have long been able to do a simple cut-and-paste job and be finished with the whole mess. But Finder’s Edit > Cut command is greyed out, maybe to protect users from themselves (namely, in cutting a file and then forgetting to paste it somewhere).

Why, Apple, why?!


But now we have a way to move items easily and safely, and here’s how. First, copy your item in Finder using the Command-C keyboard shortcut, or choose Edit > Copy. Then go to the location where you’d like to put your file, and instead of hitting the typical Command-V shortcut to paste it, hit Option-Command-V. You can also go up to the Edit menu and hold down the Option key, and “Paste Item” will switch to “Move Item Here.”

Your file or folder will then obediently move to the place you’ve chosen. It’s like cut and paste, but if you forget to perform the second half of these steps, your file will still sit in its original location, minding its own business. I think this is an elegant way to implement this long-begged-for feature, but geez Louise, it took them long enough.