As a technology teacher, I always do my best NOT to assume that my students already know something. And so today I want to cover a trick that I think is essential to know as you work with your files and folders… how to select multiple files with CTRL and Shift keys.
As you work with a folder window (the window that opens when you use My Computer, Windows Explorer, This PC (Windows 10) or the Windows 7, 8, or 10 Library window), you are often faced with wanting to do something to a group of files, rather than just one.
For example, let’s say you are working with a folder full of picture files, sorting them into different folders to keep things organized. Rather than move or copy one file at a time, it’s a lot more efficient to move or copy a bunch of files at the same time.
And that’s where learning to select multiple files with the CTRL and Shift keys comes in.
In Windows, you normally can only select ONE file at a time (“select” means clicking on a file to highlight it).
But holding down the CTRL key or the Shift key as you click a file, allows you to select more than one.
Now, CTRL and Shift do work differently…
- CTRL – allows you to click and select multiple files that are anywhere on your file list, not necessarily next to each other.
- Shift – allows you to select a group of files that are contiguous (i.e. next to each other) by clicking one file, and then holding Shift and clicking the last file. All the files in between are then selected.
By the way, you only have to have the CTRL or Shift key held down WHILE you click. Once you are finished selecting files, you can let go of the key, and the files you selected will remain selected.
Once you’ve selected all the files you want to work with, anything you do next (such as press DELETE) will affect ALL the files you’ve selected.
And, if you need to MOVE or COPY the file, dragging one of them will carry all of them along!
One Caution – As you hold down the CTRL key to select multiple files, make sure you “click cleanly”. If you accidentally “drag” the mouse as you are clicking, you’ll suddenly see duplicate files appear in the folder you’re working in. That’s because dragging something with the CTRL key held down is also used to DUPLICATE.
Just to be complete, in addition to using the CTRL and SHIFT keys, here are some other ways you can select more than one file…
- CTRL + A will “select all” the files you see in the open folder window.
- Click the “Select All” button on the Home ribbon (Windows 10), or choose “Select All” from the EDIT drop-down menu (Windows 7 and older).
- You can “visually” select multiple files from the folder window by position your mouse above and to the left of the file icons, and then dragging your mouse down and to the right. What your mouse drags over will be selected.
To give you a better idea of how the CTRL and SHIFT key work for selecting, I’ve put together an 11 minute video that demonstrates how to select multiple files with the CTRL and Shift keys. Click the video below to see it. And remember too that you can see a full-screen version of the video by using the Full Screen button I point out to you below the video.
Finally, if you are in the market for getting some guidance with using Windows 10, I recently finished updating my Guidebook for Windows 10 to include information about the Fall Creators Update.
Select Multiple Files with the CTRL and Shift keys
Click the lower-right corner button (above) to go Full Screen—>>>
As always, I’d love to hear about your own personal experiences with using CTRL and Shift.
You can leave your comments below!
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