How to Select Multiple Files on MacOS

If you need to select multiple files at the same time on macOS it may not be so intuitive to do so the first time. Here is the step by step guide to select multiple files all at once on macOS.

File selection is a simple process when you only need to select a single file but if we need to select multiple files all at once, you may encounter problems especially for those who have been using Windows for years and find themselves using a MAC with a macOS operating system.

How to Select Multiple Files on MacOS
How to Select Multiple Files on MacOS

How to Select Multiple Files on MacOS

File selection on macOS follows the same rules as other major desktop operating systems. The only real difference is the Command key which is used to change the selection type.

On Windows and Linux, the Ctrl key is used, but on macOS, the Ctrl key performs a completely different function and is not the same as the Ctrl key on Windows or Linux.

It is this very small difference that creates confusion when selecting multiple files. The process is otherwise the same as on Windows or Linux and in this article we will go through all the methods to select multiple files together in all the available variants and not encounter difficulties.

Select files on macOS

The file selection can be contiguous (the files are selected in the order they appear, in the Finder), or it can be non-contiguous (the files you want to select are not in a particular order, i.e. in different lines in different positions in the folder).

macOS lets you select all files in a folder, select all files contiguously up to a certain line or file, or select files randomly (not contiguously). Here are all the steps to follow and the keys to press on the keyboard to select files on macOS.

1. Select all files on macOS

You can select all the files in the folder in these ways:

  • Keyboard shortcut Command + A
  • Touchpad gesture Click and drag on all files

2. Select files contiguously on macOS

To select contiguous files in a folder you need to:


  1. Select a file
  2. Hold down the Shift key
  3. Use the right arrow key to start selecting files
  4. To make a larger selection, you can use the down arrow key and select entire rows of files at once

Touchpad gesture Click and drag on the files you want to select.

3. Select files inconsistently on macOS

Selecting random or non-contiguous files is a bit tricky as you need to use both keyboard and trackpad or mouse. You can’t rely on just one device to randomly select files.

If the trackpad isn’t working, you can always connect a mouse to the MAC to click on the file instead of the trackpad.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Navigate to the folder where you want to select the files
  3. Select the first file you want to include in the selection
  4. Press and hold the Command key
  5. While holding down the Command key, click on the next file you want to select
  6. Keep clicking on the files you want to include in the selection, but make sure you hold down the Command key

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