Windows 7: How To Copy Or Move Files From Multiple Folders

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 15, 2009
Updated • Feb 19, 2017
Windows, Windows 7

Complex file operations are not really supported by the default file browser in Windows (Windows Explorer). Windows Explorer does not come with the means for instance to copy or move a specific file typem or files with a specific name pattern effectively.

One example would be to copy all photos from a folder and all of its subfolders into another directory. Most Windows users will probably access each folder individually to copy the photos from there into the target folder. Others may use third-party file explorers like Folder Merge,  QuickMove, or Smart Folders instead that offer these options.

It is not that big of a problem if all photos reside in the same folder, but once subfolders are involved, it is quite time consuming to do so.

There is however a way to improve the process, speed things up, and make it more comfortable at the same time.

And that is done by using the Windows Explorer search. The search is powerful enough to speed up some file operations.

Note: The method works on machines running Windows 8.x or Windows 10 as well.

How To Copy Or Move Files From Multiple Folders

Note that this has been tested under Windows 7. Search in older versions of Windows may not offer the same functionality.

Now, the method uses search to filter files quickly based on the selected parameters.

This can be largely attributed to the fact that the search will only find files and folders that match the search term if they reside in the folder the search was started, or a subfolder of it.

To find all photos with the jpg extension one would simply search for jpg in the search form after selecting the starting folder of the operation.

Windows will then list all files that match the keyword jpg. This may mean that some files are added to the search results that are not jpg images, for example a file called photojpg.exe would also be included in the list. But that is not a problem as that search results can be sorted by file type or name easily.

All or only selected files that have been found this way can be copied or moved easily to another location. The easiest way to do so is to hit Ctrl-A to select them all, but that works only if there are not any collateral files displayed here that you may not want to move.

If that is the case you can either Ctrl-click on any file you want to move, or use the sorting option to sort by file extension, date or other characteristics before you select and move the files you want to copy or move.

You may use filters, e.g. type:jpg to filter by file extension. This can be very useful to avoid that file types that you don't want to process are included in the results. Check out this advanced search parameters guide for Windows Search for additional filters that you may find useful.

Windows 7: How To Copy Or Move Files From Multiple Folders
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Windows 7: How To Copy Or Move Files From Multiple Folders
How to copy or move files residing under the same root folder but in different folders in one operation in Windows using Windows Explorer.
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  1. cara said on July 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    very helpful. this is the one ive been asking for a long time ago

  2. Anonymous said on February 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    you play games with people’s time and misdirect them for profit.

  3. kalmly said on December 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    As mizkitty64 says: *.jpg.

    I purchased Search GT. Makes short work of a search. My only complaint is that it doesn’t handle searches based on dates nearly as well as Windows.

  4. Cornflower said on December 16, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve used this idea, and it is a good one. I used it sparingly, however, because Windows Find always seemed to me slow. One good third-party portable and freeware app is “Everything” at (not the name of a utility that is easy to google.)

    it is fast, and deals with trees and subdirectories, etc. very well. I just type in the name of the root directory with a \, any filename portions, such as jpg, .jp?, etc. and it blazingly fast shortens thte list of hits. I admit one of teh truly great uses is to find a song, for which I think I know one word of the title, but not sure of the rest.

    Keep up the good blogging.

  5. mizkitty64 said on December 16, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Any savvy computer user would use the search term “*.jpg” not”jpg”.

    Try it…

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