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How to select multiple files on macOS

File selection is a simple process when you only need to select a single file. It’s only when your selection is varied i.e. you need to select certain files and not others that you may run into problems. 

select files macos

Select files on macOS

File selection can be contiguous  (the files are selected in the order they appear in, in Finder), or it may be non-contiguous (the files you want to select are not in any particular order i.e., in different rows at different positions in Finder). 

macOS allows you to select all files in a folder, select all files contiguously up to a certain row or file, or select files randomly (non-contiguously). 

1. Select all files – macOS

You can select all files in folder by;

Keyboard shortcut: Command+A

Touchpad gesture: Click and drag over all files

2. Select files contiguously – macOS

To select files contiguously in a folder;


  1. Select one file.
  2. Hold down the Shift key.
  3. Use the Right arrow key to begin selecting files.
  4. To make a larger selection, you can use the Down arrow key and select entire rows of files at once.

Touchpad gesture: Click and drag over the files you want to select.

3. Select files non-contiguously (random) – macOS

Random or non-contiguous file selection is a little tricky in that you need to use both the keyboard and the trackpad to do it. You cannot rely on just one to select files out of order. If your trackpad isn’t working, you can always connect a mouse to your Mac and click with it instead of the trackpad. 

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Navigate to the folder you want to select files in.
  3. Select the first file you want to include in the selection.
  4. Hold down the Command.
  5. With the Command key held down, click the next file you want to select.
  6. Continue clicking the files you want to include in the selection but make sure you have the Command key held down.


File selection on macOS follows the same rules as it does on other major desktop operating systems. The only real difference is that the Command key is used to modify the type of selection. On Windows and Linux the Control key is used but on macOS, the Control key performs an entirely different function and is not equal to the Control key on Windows or Linux. It’s really this one small difference that causes confusion when selecting files. The process is otherwise the same as that on Window or Linux.

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