Windows has two default actions when you drag and drop a file or folder to a new destination location in File Explorer: Copy or move, depending on the target. However, there is a hidden registry trick that allows you to change this default behavior in Windows 10.
Windows 10 default behavior
By default, Windows copies anything you drag and drop to a folder on another drive and moves it if you drag and drop it to another folder on the current drive.
While you can change the drag and drop behavior using keyboard shortcuts, it’s a temporary solution and requires you to press the key every time you want to move or copy items. Here’s how you can force Windows to change its copy or move behavior, regardless of whether you’re dragging items onto the same drive.
Change the drag and drop behavior of files or folders through Registry Editor
Registry Editor is a powerful tool. If misused, it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. However, this is quite a simple trick. As long as you follow the instructions, there should be no problems.
If you have never worked with Registry Editor before, you may want to read a little information about the Windows Registry before you get started. Remember to back up your registry and computer before you make the following changes.
For added security, you may want to create a System Restore (system restore point) before proceeding. This way, if something goes wrong, you can go back to where it was before things went bad.
To change the default behavior, you will need to edit two registry entries. When you’re ready, open Registry Editor and navigate to the following key in the left bar:
Once here, right-click on the * folder and choose New> DWORD (32-bit) Value . Name the value DefaultDropEffect.
Now you will either modify that value to always copy or always move files and folders as the default drop behavior. There are 4 values you can use with different effects. Although we will only be interested in two of the actions, you can review a summary of these options as follows:
- Default action (0) : Let Windows decide to copy or move files and folders as you drag and drop it into place.
- Always copy (1) : A copy of the file or directory will always be placed at the destination.
- Always move (2) : The file or folder will move to the destination.
- Always create a shortcut (4) : A link to the root file or directory will always be placed at the destination.
Double-click the new DefaultDropEffect value to open the editing window and type 1 or 2 , depending on how you want to copy or move files or folders. In this example, I’ll use 1 to always copy files or folders. When done, tap OK.
Next, navigate to the second key and repeat the steps above; Create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value , name it DefaultDropEffect, and set the value to 1.
Use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key (or copy and paste it into the Registry Editor address bar):
Right-click on the AllFilesystemObjects folder and choose New> DWORD (32-bit) Value . Name the new DWORD as DefaultDropEffect.
Now, double-click the new DefaultDropEffect value, set the Value data box to 1 , and then click OK to close the window.
You can now close Registry Editor and the changes will take effect immediately, without needing to restart your computer.