Selecting multiple files on a Windows PC

If you have a folder full of large video files, selecting multiple large files that you don’t need and deleting them can help free up space on your PC† Selecting multiple files is also useful if you want to change file names or file extensions in batches

There are several ways you can select multiple files on Windows, and in this guide, we are talking about all theirs.

Select all files with Ctrl + A

To select all files in a window, press and hold Ctrl key and press A† This hotkey selects all files or folders. So, this method is useful when there are many files in a folder, but you want to exclude some files that are not in a sequence.

Let’s say there are more than 100 files or folders, but you want to exclude 3 of them in different places in the list. In that case, press Ctrl + A to select all files. Then press and hold the Ctrl key and left click on the files you want to deselect.

Once the desired files are selected, hover your mouse pointer over the highlighted files and right-click to open the context menu. You can see the options to copy or cut the items (along with many other options) that allow you to copy or move them to another folder.

Select Files with Explorer

File Explorer comes with several built-in features that allow you to modify files and folders. The toolkit contains two functions that allow you to select files in different ways.

To find these options, you need to switch to the House tab in File Explorer and go to the Select section if you are using Windows 10. However, in Windows 11, the selection options are available in the drop-down menu that you can access by selecting the ellipsis on the toolbar at the top of File Explorer.

Selecting the Select everything option has the same effects as using Ctrl + A. It selects all items in the current folder.

Selecting the Reverse selection option reverses the file selection, ie selects the files that are not currently selected and deselects the currently selected files.

This is useful in several cases. Let’s say you want to move 30 files to one folder and three to another. You first press Ctrl + A to select items in the folder and deselect the three files you want to exclude.

Copy them to the desired folder. Then bring back the source folder and use the Reverse selection choice. This will select the three files and you can then copy or move them to another location or external hard drive.

Selecting Consecutive Files with the Mouse

The easiest way to select consecutive files is to drag your cursor over the files you want to select. To use the mouse to select consecutive files, left-click in the empty space next to a file and drag the cursor over the files you want to select.

Select Consecutive Files with the Shift Key

When you need to select a group of files or folders that appear sequentially, you can use the Shift key in combination with other keys. You can use the following key combinations to select files with the Shift key:

  • Shift + Arrow Keys
  • Shift + left mouse button

What does Shift + arrow key do?

Suppose you want to select the five files in the middle of a list of files. You can select the first file from which you want to start selecting and press ShiftDown arrow† Doing so will select the immediate file below it. Keep pressing the same key combination until you’ve selected all the files you want to select.

The key combination also works the same way to select files up. If the folder is set to display files with thumbnails, the key combination also works to select files horizontally.

What does Shift + left mouse button do?

If you don’t want to use the Shift + Arrow key repeatedly until you’ve selected all the files, there’s a handy hotkey

Select the first file you want to start selecting from. Then press and hold the Shift key and left click on the last file where you want to end the selection. Doing so will select all files between the two files you clicked on.

Select files with the Ctrl key

While Ctrl + A selects all files, you can also use the Ctrl key to select specific files with the mouse. Essentially, the Ctrl key helps you choose specific files from a list of files, so this method is useful if you can only select a handful of files from a long list of files.

Press and hold to select Ctrl and left click on the files you want to select. Keep in mind that clicking on an empty space deselects all files, and since this method can take some time to choose files from a long list, it can be frustrating.

Select files on a Windows device with touchscreen

If you’re using Microsoft Surface or a touchscreen device with Windows 11 or 10 (the feature is also available on Windows 7, 8, and Vista), it may be easier to select check boxes to easily select multiple files.

You can use checkboxes to select files by clicking on them for each file. When you click , a check is placed in the item check box to indicate that a file is selected. After you select the files, you can drag and drop them or copy them to another folder.

The method of selecting the check boxes depends on the operating system. For example, on Windows 10, you need to switch to the Vision tab in the top left corner of File Explorer and check the box next to Item check boxes in the Show/Hide section.

On the other hand, if you are using Windows 11, you must click on the Vision drop-down menu and select show Item check boxes

However, if you are using an earlier version of Windows, there is also an OS independent way to enable checkboxes for items.

  1. Start by pressing Win + R† Type controls.exe directories and press Enter
  2. You see the file Explorer options window opens. Changes made here will also be reflected in the folder options. Switch to the Vision tab.
  3. Below the Advanced settings section, search for an item called Use checkboxes to select items and check the box next to it.

After checking the checkboxes for items, you can select files by simply checking the checkboxes next to them:

Selecting multiple files is easy and convenient

Knowing how to select multiple files is a handy skill if you use a computer every day. Keep in mind that when you move files, you should only move personal files or files that do not cause collateral damage. Moving files out of an app’s folder can cause a problem with its operation, so it’s best not to tinker with it.

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