Matt Coneybeare


How to Cut and Paste a File in Finder Using Keyboard Shortcuts and Automator

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I manage a file server with a ton of content. When new stuff comes in most of it gets automagically moved into the right directory, but sometimes I need to manually move files into folders and subfolders. I am also a keyboard shortcut junkie. I will always use the shortcut over the mouse to perform the same action if it exists, so I was bummed when I saw that cut was disabled for most Finder files. I am unsure of the conditions that make a file cuttable, I just wanted a solution to my problem.

After doing some research, I found this old Lifehacker post on how to achieve it using Automator, but it wasn’t working for me on Lion at all. Not only that, but the cutting and pasting I am doing is mostly on remotely mounted volumes, such as AFP drives and servers. The Lifehacker script did not handle those locations well and ended up taking forever to transfer the remote files. Cutting and pasting a 10GB file should be a simple file pointer redirection, not a copy then a deletion of the original file.

I edited the Automator services to meet my needs and am giving them to you to download and use. 5 simple steps to install:

  1. Download the files, unzip, and double click both “Cut File.workflow” and “Paste File.workflow”. When asked what you want to do with the file, choose “Install”. This will move the files to your ~/Library/Services folder.

  2. Create a new folder in ~/Library called “Cuttemp”. If you are having trouble finding the ~/Library folder, you can open it by holding down the Option key and clicking the “Go” menu in Finder.

    This is the place where we will store the temporary file list on “Cut”. The way the service works is that when you “cut” a file, it makes a shortcut to that file and places the shortcut in this directory. Nothing is actually removed until you paste into another directory.
  3. Create a new folder in ~/Library called “Sounds”. If the folder already exists, you do not need to create a second one. Drag the sound files “Ding.caf” and “DingDing.caf” into the Sounds folder.

  4. Go into System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Hit the plus button to add a new shortcut and choose Finder for the application, “Cut File” (without quotes) for the menu item and anything you want for the shortcut — I use ⌘⇧X, which is similar to the traditional shortcut for Cut. Then, hit the plus button again and do the same, but with “Paste File” (no quotes) as the menu item and anything you want as the shortcut (I use ⌘⇧V).

  5. To cut a file (Folders are not supported), select it in Finder and press your “Cut File” keyboard shortcut. Multiple Files are supported. You will hear a “Ding” to let you know when it has completed. To paste the File(s), you can either navigate to a new directory, or simply select it in Finder and press your “Paste File” keyboard shortcut. You should hear a “Ding Ding” when it has completed.

Obviously try this out on a few files you don’t mind losing after you install in case something goes wrong. I am not responsible for any lost porn. Let me know in the comments if you are having any troubles!


My name is Matt Coneybeare, I design and develop for iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), Mac OS X and the Web out of New York. In 2008 I started a software company called Urban Apps that has made some pretty popular apps such as Ambiance and Hourly News. My current Stack Overflow reputation is about 27k.

I was a Rockstar a decade ago, but then went back to school and collected a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley. Now I am settled down with my beautiful wife Di and our two doggies Hamachi and Foxy. While coding, I walk several miles/day on my Treadmill Desk. When not at my desk, I love exploring New York City as a Yelp Elite, or training for marathons.

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Matt Coneybeare