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If you ever need to make a copy of a file or folder on a Mac, you’ll be happy to know that the Duplicate File feature in Mac Finder makes it a very easy way to accomplish this task. The name is self-descriptive because Copy creates an exact copy of any specified files or folders and copies the original item in the same active directory.
For example, if you have a file called “Amazing Document” and you make a copy of the file, you have “Amazing Document” as well as a duplicate file labeled “Amazing Document copy.” You can copy any file or folder this way, and the copied version always has the suffix “copy” at the end of the file name so that the duplicate is easy to identify.
Note that Mac OS’s Copy feature makes a single copy of a file, but if you choose Copy to Folder, it makes a recursive copy of the folder and all its contents.
Copy files or folders in Mac OS
Copying a file or folder makes an exact copy of the file or folder. Here’s how you can use the copy feature from any Mac OS file system:
- Go to the “Finder” on your Mac and find the file or folder you want to copy from and make a copy of it
- Select the file or folder you want to copy
- Once the destination file / folder is selected in the Finder, drag down the File menu and select Copy *
- When copying is complete, a copy of the selected file or folder will appear in the same directory called “Copy Name”
The screenshots above describe a copy of an image file called “Example.jpg” and the copied version appears in the same directory as “Example copy.jpg” – note that the “copy” attachment always appears in the file name, whether file extensions are displayed in the Mac Finder or not.
Shortcut to quickly copy a file or folder in Mac OS
If using the File menu is too slow for you, or if you just like keyboard shortcuts, there’s also a handy Duplicate Item keyboard shortcut.
- Select a file or folder and hit Command + D copy in the Finder
The keyboard shortcut must be activated in the Finder with the folder or file selected.
For some more advanced Mac users, keyboard shortcuts are faster than menu items. However, as you approach duplication, the result is the same.
Just like any other Mac file or folder, you can rename the copied version or the original if you want. You can also move a copy or original somewhere else, cut and paste it, upload it somewhere, delete it, or anything else you would normally do with a file in the file system.
Making a copy of a file can be useful for many obvious reasons, whether you’re editing a version of a document, wanting a direct backup of a particular file, or maybe you just want to make a copy of something. You can also make multiple copies of the same file, just keep the original item selected and copy it further. Each new copy contains a specified calculation number, such as “Example Copy”, “Example Copy 2”, “Example Copy 3”, and so on.
* Another more advanced trick is to use the keyboard editor Shift + “Exactly Copy” option, which preserves file ownership and permissions. This can be useful for administrators when copying a system-level file or editing other users’ files or folders.
There are other ways to copy files in Mac OS, and Copy isn’t the only way. Other approaches include using regular copy and paste commands or menu items in the selected file, holding down the Option key while dragging and dropping files, using the command line cp command, using the same command line command, or dragging and dropping a file or folder to another drive (either partition or separate status). Use any method that works best for you and your Mac workflow.
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