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How to move files between drives with drag & drop on Windows 10

Drag & drop is great but how it works differs based on the source and destination of the files or folders that are being moved. If you drag an item from the desktop to a folder on the same drive, it will be moved to it. If you move files between drives with drag & drop, it will copy them over instead of actually moving them. The source drive will have a copy of the file, and the destination drive will have another copy of it. If you’d prefer to actually move the files instead of them being copied over, you can change the drag & drop behavior with a registry edit.

Move files between drives with drag & drop

Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box. In the run box, enter the following and tap Enter. Make sure you have admin rights since we’re going to edit the registry.

regedit

With the registry open, navigate to the following location.

\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*

Right-click the * key and select New>DWORD (32-bit) value.

Give it the following name.

DefaultDropEffect

Double-click it and set its value to 2. Restart File Explorer.

There are lots of ways you can do this but the quickest is to open the Task Manager and on the Processes tab, look for Windows Explorer. Select it, and click the restart button at the bottom right.

When you now drag & drop items between drives, the item will be moved instead of being copied over.

If you ever need to undo this change, there are two ways to do it. The first is obvious; delete the key you just created. If you’d like to keep the entry around in case you want to change the drag & drop behavior again, you can set its value to 0.

You can also use this trick to create shortcuts. If you set the value of DefaultDropEffect to 4, dragging & dropping items between drives will create shortcuts to them. This isn’t likely something that most people will need to do often but it’s something that you can do.

It goes without saying that once you make this change, you have to be careful when you move files between drives. If you’re moving files between drives on the same system, it’s not that big a deal however, if you’re moving them to an external drive, you will have to remember that drag & drop will now move the file instead of copy it over. If you intend to retain a copy of the file on your own system, you should use keyboard shortcuts to move/copy the files/folders over.

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