How to Copy a File or Folder on Windows 10

Windows Explorer is a powerful tool and you can do many tasks from it. We will show you how to copy a file on Windows 10 and just how easy it is.

The visual element of Windows Explorer is where it really makes things easier. You are quickly able to see every action in detail that you are performing. You even have the ability to search for your files using it.

You can also delete, copy or move them very quickly and easily in File Explorer.

Steps to copy a file or folder using Explorer

Open Windows File Explorer. A new Explorer windows will appear:

new file explorer window instance - how to copy a file

You can navigate to any drive, folder or file on your computer using the left-hand navigation panel.

Once you have located the file you wish to copy, press the left mouse button and hold it down while your pointer is hovering over it.

Then simply drag it to where you want it copied to while holding the ‘Ctrl’ key. If you fail to hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key, it will simply move it, instead of copying it.

file explorer copy

If you cannot see the destination location from the File Explorer view where your file is, follow the next procedure instead.

How to copy files or folders using contextual menus in Explorer

Again, first, make sure File Explorer is open.

When you press your right-hand mouse button when hovering your mouse pointer over the file you want to copy, a new menu will appear to the side of it. This is called a contextual menu.

Press the left mouse button to select ‘Copy’ on the menu.

copy file from menus

Then navigate to the location you wish it copied to. Put your mouse pointer on the place you would like the file copied to. Press your right-hand mouse button, and again, a menu will appear. Press your left mouse button when you have moved the pointer of your mouse in on the ‘Paste’ menu item.

paste from menus

Now you should have your file copied in the location that you pasted it to.

This method will also work for shortcuts or folders too, not just any file.

Other considerations

If you already have a file that has the exact filename as the one you are trying to copy, you will be prompted to take appropriate action on how you wish Windows to proceed.

You will be able to:

  1. Replace the existing file.
  2. Proceed with the copy, and keep both them. This usually results in a (1) being added at the end of the filename.
  3. To skip the copying of the file.

Related question

How to move files instead of copy in Windows 10

Right-click on the file you wish to move. Left-click the ‘Cut’ option from the contextual menu. Right-click on the location you want the file to go, then left-click on ‘Paste’ in the contextual menu.

We show you step by step how to move files here.

How do you copy and paste using your keyboard?

Once you have the file(s) or folder(s) selected, press and hold the ‘Ctrl’ button on your keyboard, tap the ‘C’ key and release the ‘Ctrl’ key. Then select your destination and press the ‘Ctrl’ key and tap the ‘V’ key, then release the ‘Ctrl’ key.


Now that you know how to copy files, you can create backups or manage them on your computer a lot easier.

There are third-party copy programs that be useful in certain unique cases. A recommended software application for doing more complicated tasks would be TeraCopy. It’s free and lightweight and provides a good array of features.

Probably the most useful feature that I’d find the most beneficial, is the visual cues and queuing of files.