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Home > Jan's CompLit 101 > Working with Windows > Files & Folders > Folders: Move & Restore
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Jan's Working with Windows:

    Folders: Move & Restore

There are several methods of copying or moving files and folders:

  • Icon: Drag  Left click to drag and drop
  • Right click and Drag Right click to drag and drop
  • Right click Context menu
  • Icon: Keyboard Key combo: Copy or Cut; Paste
  • Move to or Copy To button on toolbar or ribbon

Since this is a very important set of skills, you will see all of the methods. One of the safest methods is using right drag and drop since it gives you choices on its context menus, but the others have their uses, too.

In previous lessons you moved or copied items between two different windows. This time you will use the folder tree and some new methods.

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Copy/Move & Restore

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn: to copy or move folder to new location using:
     right drag to folder tree
     context menu
     drag and drop
     ribbon (Win8)
to customize the toolbar (WinXP)
to undo a copy or move
to refresh the window
to delete using the keyboard and menus
to restore deleted item from Recycle Bin
to rename folders using
      context menu
      menu bar

Start with: Icon: Class disk, Removable disk contents showing in a window in Details view

Move from Right Pane to Left: Right Drag

  1. Drag two selected folders to the folder tree (Win8) If necessary, insert the Class disk into the drive or port and open a window that displays its contents in Details view with the folder tree expanded.
  2. Open the my docs folder which contains three folders.
  3. Select the folders excel docs and word docs contained in the folder my docs.


  4. Right Click Menu: Cancel (Win8)Right click and Drag Right drag either of the selected folders over to the left pane to the folder class on the removable drive.
  5. When the folder class is highlighted, drop.
    A context menu appears with some choices.
  6. From the context menu, select  Cancel .
    Your move doesn't happen after all!

    TipRemember that if the thing you are dragging is on a different drive than the new location, it will be copied. If it is on the same drive as the new location, it will be moved. The action in bold text is the current default. If you hold the CTRL key down while you drag, this is reversed.

    The best idea is to use a right drag so that you get the popup menu to choose from! Much easier on the brain!

Move Inside Left Pane: Right Drag

In the Navigation pane on the left, you can select only one folder or drive at a time.

  1. Inside the folder tree in the left pane, Right click and Drag right drag the folder paint docs up to the folder class.
  2. The folder paint docs has been moved (Win8)When the folder class is highlighted, release the mouse button.
    A context menu appears.
  3. Left click Click on  Move Here .
    The folder paint docs is moved to the folder class.
    The right pane will change to show this change automatically. The selection does not change.

Move: Undo

  1. Left click  Click on  Edit  >  Undo Move  in the Menu bar orRight click right click in a blank area of the right pane select Undo Move.
    The folder paint docs returns to the my docs folder. Are you dizzy yet??

    Keyboard tip Keyboard method to Undo: CTRL + Z
    Hold down the  CTRL key and press the Z key.
    Keyboard tip Keyboard method to Redo: CTRL + Y
    Hold down the CTRL key and press the Y key.

    TipLocation at end of list: The folder paint docs was not put back in its alphabetical spot in the display. It is at the end of the list now, out of alphabetical order.

  2. From the menu, select on the menu View  >  Refresh  or Right click right click and in the context menu select Refresh.
    The display refreshes and returns the folders to alphabetical order.

    Keyboard tip Keyboard method to Refresh: F5
    Press the F5 key (usually in the top row of your keyboard) to refresh the window in many programs, as well as in Windows itself.

Move: Cut and Paste: Context Menu

  1. Cut folder is semi-transparent (Win8)Right click menu: Cut (Win8)Right click Right click on the folder word docs in the right pane.
    A context menu appears.
  2. From the context menu choose  Cut 
    The icon and label turn partly transparent. A ghost of themselves!
  3. Right Click Menu: Paste (Win8)Right click Right click on the folder class in the folder tree.  
  4. From the context menu choose  Paste. 
    The folder is moved to the new location.

    This Cut-and-Paste method accomplishes the same result as a Move. It is useful when you cannot see what you want to move and the new location at the same time.

    Warning Paste right away! If you copy anything else before you Paste, it will replace the first copy on the Windows Clipboard!  In these file/folder management windows, you are safe. If you Cut but never Paste, the folder is not moved at all. The action is canceled.

    But in most programs, cut material is removed from documents, even if you don't ever paste it anywhere. So you can easily lose the cut material entirely.

  5. From the menu bar choose  Edit  >  Undo Move  or use the key combo CTRL + Z.

Icon: WinXP WinXP: Show Toolbar

If you are working in Vista, Win7, or Win 8, you may skip to the next sections that apply only to WinXP.
Windows Vista & Win7 do not let you hide the toolbar. Win8 uses a ribbon instead of a toolbar.

If the toolbar is not showing:

  1.     Custom buttons shown on Standard Buttons toolbar (WinXP)
     Move To, Copy To, 
    Delete, Undo

    Menu: View | Toolbars | Standard buttons (WinXP)Open the Toolbars submenu:
     View  >  Toolbars  > Standard Buttons
  2. Resize the window, if necessary, to show the file/folder management buttons:

If you do not see the file/folder management buttons on the Standard toolbar, you can add buttons and even separator bars,a if you wish. The next section explains how.

Icon: WinXP WinXP: Customize the Toolbar

Windows Vista and Win7 do not let you customize the toolbar for a Computer window.
Windows 8 will let you customize the ribbon but the ribbon already includes CopyTo and MoveTo buttons.
Skip past the sections that apply only to WinXP.

  1. Menu: View | Toolbars | CustomizeFrom the menu, select  View  >  Toolbars  > Customize
    The dialog Customize Toolbars appears.
  2. Dialog: Customize Toolbar, with added buttons (‌WinXP)Select a button that you want to add to the toolbar and click the Add-> button.
  3. Try the choices in Text options and Icon options to see what your choices are.
    The toolbar will actually change as you make a choice. If you need to start over, click the Reset button.
  4. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to change the order of the buttons.
  5. When you are satisfied with your choices, click the Close button.
    If you are sharing this computer, do not get too crazy with the buttons! In a computer lab you may not be allowed to make these changes.

Icon: WinXP Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 WinXP, Win8, Win8.1: Copy To button

WinXP and Win8 have Copy To and Move To buttons.

Windows Vista and Win7 do not have a Copy button on the toolbar.
Skip to the next section for Vista/Win7.

  1. If necessary, click in the folder tree on the folder my docs to display its subfolders in the right pane.
  2. Select in the right pane the folders excel docs and word docs by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on each of the folders.
  3. Left click Click the Copy To button on the toolbar Button: Copy To or ribbon Button: Copy To (Win8) or (WinXP) select Edit > Copy To on the menu.
  4. Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win8.1: Click on Choose location...
    The Copy Items dialog appears with its own folder tree.
    This is useful when the new location is not near the old on the folder tree. 
  5. Dialog: Copy Items (Win8)Select the folder class in the Copy Items folder tree.
  6. Left click Click the Copy button.
    Both folders are now copied to the new location. The originals are left in place.
    (The Move To button works the same way.)
  7. From the menu bar choose  Edit  >  Undo Copy .
    A dialog box appears asking you to confirm your deletion.
  8. Choose Yes.

Icon: WinXPIcon: Windows VistaIcon: Win7 WinXP, Vista, Win7: Copy and Paste: Menu Bar

Win8 does not have a menu bar but uses a ribbon instead.

  1. Left click Select the folder my docs in the left pane to show its contents and then click in the right pane on the folder paint docs.
  2. Menu: File > Copy (Vista)From the menu bar choose  Edit  >  Copy .

    Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Win7 Icon: ProblemProblem: The Menu bar is not showing in Vista/Win7.
    Solution 1:
    Press the ALT key each time you need to see the Menu bar.
    Solution 2:To keep the bar in view all of the time, click the Organize button and then select Layout > Menu bar.

  3. Folder tree showing two folders named paint docs (Vista)Move your pointer to the folder tree and Left click click on the folder class to select it.
  4. From the menu bar choose  Edit  >  Paste .
    The folder paint docs should now be in two places - the folder my docs and the folder class.
  5. Expand both folders on the folder tree to verify that the folders are in both places.

Move: Drag

  1. Folder tree - moving folder by dragging (Vista)Select in the folder tree the folder my docs to show its contents in the right pane.
  2. Icon-left drag Drag the folder word docs from the right pane to the left pane folder class and drop it there.

    The folder that you moved vanishes from the right pane and is now moved into the folder class. Verify this by opening the folder class and looking at its contents in the right pane.

Undo: Toolbar or Keyboard

Previously you used an Undo command on the menu and on the context menu.

  1. Undo the Move:
    Icon: WinXPLeft click On the toolbar, click on the Undo button Button: Undo (WinXP) to reverse the move.
    Computer: Organize > Undo (Win7)
    Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Win7 Vista, Win7: Left click Click the Organize button and then Undo.
    Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win8.1: Icon: Keyboard Use the key combo CTRL + Z
    (Hold down the  CTRL key and press the Z key.)

Delete: Context Menu

WarningDeleting from most removable drives is permanent, no matter what method you use. Undo will not restore what you deleted. In most cases a flash drive or other removable drive does NOT send deleted objects to the Recycle Bin. Only if your drive shows as an additional hard disk will your deleted files go to the Recycle Bin. Check yours out!

  1. Double Click Double-click on the folder class in the folder tree of your removable drive to expand that branch and show its subfolders in both panes.
  2. Right click Right click in the right pane on the folder paint docs.
  3. From the context menu choose  Delete .
    The selected folder is deleted. In the Confirm dialog box choose Yes.

    Icon: Question Which dialog did you see? The one for the Recycle Bin or the one to permanently delete?

Delete: Keyboard

  1. In the folder tree, select the folder class of your removable drive.
  2. Press the DELETE key on your keyboard to delete this folder.

    TipUnder DOS and UNIX you have to delete a folder's contents before you can delete the folder. Not so with Windows.

  3. Open the Edit menu or the context menu. Is there an Undo command?
    It is most likely NOT to undo the deletion of the folder class.

    Icon: Question Can you tell what object will be restored with the Undo Delete command?

Restore from Recycle Bin

Icon: Recycle Bin (Vista)Icon: Recycle Bin on Desktopo (WinXP)Recycle Bin iconAt some time you will make a mistake when you delete something from your hard disk and you won't realize it until later. Undo will not work if you have done a number of other things since deleting. The Recycle Bin exists just to handle this problem.

The Desktop icon for the Recycle Bin may look different on your computer. Many themes change the look, sometimes to something entirely different, like this Egyptian bird icon from the Nile theme for WinXP Icon: Recycle Bin - empty - from Nile theme (WinXP)for the empty Recycle Bin. (Does not look much like a waste basket, does it?!)

Below you will create a folder on the computer's hard disk, delete it, (which sends it to the Recycle Bin), and then restore it from the Recycle Bin. Then you will delete it permanently to return the disk to its previous state.

  1. Create a new folder on Drive C.
    Leave the name as New Folder. It will be the last item in the list for Drive C:

    If another folder already exists with this name, Windows will call yours New Folder (2). No problem! Just continue using the name Windows gave it. It won't be around for long anyway.

  2. Delete the folder that you just created with the method of your choice.
    When the Confirm Folder Delete dialog box appears, choose Yes.
  3. Left click Click on Recycle Bin in the left pane.
    (You may need to scroll to see it.)

    Icon: Recycle Bin (Vista) Icon: Recycle Bin on Desktopo (WinXP) Recycle Bin icon TipAlternate Method: You can also open a Recycle Bin window by double-clicking the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop.

    Dialog: Folder Options > General > Navigation pane > Show all folders (Win8)Icon: Trouble Problem: The Recycle Bin does not show in the folder tree
    Solution: Open the Folder Options dialog to the General tab. Check the box 'Show all folders'. Click OK to close the dialog and save changes.

    The right pane will show a list of recently deleted files and folders. The right pane has 2 more properties to show now: Original Location and Date Deleted.

    Explorer with Recycle Bin selected
    Folder tree for Recycle Bin
    File Explorer: Recycle Bin (Win8)

    Your Recycle Bin will have different things showing in the Contents pane on the right. There may be many other things listed or none at all. The Recycle Bin should be emptied from time to time to save disk space.

    Icon: ProblemProblem: You don't see 'New folder' in the Recycle Bin
    Left click Sort on Date Deleted. Your folder named New Folder should be the most recent deletion.

    If you are using a classroom computer and other students have already done this exercise, you may find a LOT of folders named New Folder! Look at the Date Deleted to see which is yours.

  4. Right click Right click on New Folder and from the context menu, choose  Restore .
    The folder vanishes from the list and reappears in the folder tree, in its alphabetical place.

    TipYou can also find the Restore command on the File menu, but only when Recycle Bin is selected.

  5. Left click Click on Drive C:\ in the left pane and find New Folder, now listed alphabetically in the right pane.
  6. Icon: Keyboard method Delete the folder New Folder permanently by holding the SHIFT key down while pressing the DELETE key. (SHIFT + DEL).
  7. In the Confirm File Delete dialog, choose Yes
  8. Open the Recycle Bin again and look for your New Folder.
    It should not be there this time, but there may be other deleted folders with this name.
    Check the Date Deleted.


In this section you will revise the folder names so you can use them to store the projects you work on in these and other lessons. Many of you will be going on to the Working with Words lessons. Others may not do any other lessons or may go to a different topic.


  1. In the folder tree pane, Left click click on the folder excel docs; pause; Left click click again to highlight the folder name.
  2. Type  win project2  and press the ENTER key.

Context Menu:

  1. Right click Right click on the folder word docs in the right pane.
  2. From the context menu select  Rename .
  3. Type  word project1 
  4. Left click Click on the folder paint docs in the right pane.
    The new name took effect when you clicked somewhere.

Menu Bar:

  1. From the menu bar select  File  >  Rename .
  2. Folder tree showing project folders in the folder my docs (vista)Type  word project2 .

Check it out!

Icon: Class diskYour Class disk should now contain:

  • Open Folder icon my docs
    • Open Folder icon win project2
    • Open Folder icon word project1
    • Open Folder icon word project2