Set the default drag and drop action in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7

When you drag a file or a folder from one location to another in File Explorer, it will offer you to move it or copy it depending on whether you are dragging it to another folder on the same drive, or to another drive. If you would like to customize the default action, it is possible. In this article, we will see how it can be done.


To change the default action temporarily, you can use keyboard modifier keys. Without changing any settings, the following actions can be performed:

  • Hold the Ctrl key while you are dragging a file or a folder to copy it.
  • Hold the Shift key while you are dragging a file or a folder to move it.drag action move
  • Hold the Alt key while you are dragging a file or a folder to create a shortcut.

Tip: see How to show what action will happen when selected items are dragged in File Explorer.

If you prefer to change the desired action permanently without using any modifier keys, you need to apply a simple Registry tweak.

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the following Registry key:

    Tip: See how to jump to the desired Registry key with one click.

  3. Create a new 32-bit DWORD value here named DefaultDropEffect. If you are running 64-bit Windows 10, you still need to create a 32-bit DWORD value. Set its value data as follows:
    • 0 - no action will be performed,
    • 1 - by default, the dragged file or folder will be copied,
    • 2 - the dragged object will be moved,
    • 4 - a shortcut will be created for the dragged file or folder.

    In the following screenshot, I set the default action to "copy", i.e. DefaultDropEffect = 1:Windows 10 set default drag action

  4. Repeat the same tweak under the key
  5. Now try to drag a file or folder to some other location. In my case, it will be copied.drag action copy

You are done. You can always revert this tweak by deleting the DefaultDropEffect value. And of course, you can still use modifier keys to change the action. Or you can simply use the right mouse button to drag and drop and Windows will show you a context menu asking you what you want to do.

To avoid Registry editing for this tweak, you can use Winaero Tweaker. It allows you to set the default drag-n-drop action with just one click! Check the appropriate option under Behavior\Default Drag-n-Drop action:drag drop mouse

That's it.


22 thoughts on “Set the default drag and drop action in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7

  1. Niels

    THANK YOU – whoever you are… For saving me from a lot of logistic and emotional trouble by not only explaining the drag&drop change in Win10 in a VERY understandable way, but also making me feel like an IT hero by changing the registry by myself. :) You are awesome and your work affects other people’s lives in a very positive way.

    A huge “Danke” from Germany… Niels

  2. Jay

    Many thanks for the registry tweak, it has removed the annoying pop-up that asks whether you want to move or copy when dragging and dropping on the desktop – MS make tweaks for no reason – in my opinion there was nothing wrong with the original default behaviour of drag and drop to move, and ctrl drag and drop to copy – now it’s back. Cheers.

  3. Alice

    Very helpful! Especially the Ctrl and Shift – copy and move! I never thought of that! Very clever. ;) THANK YOU!

    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are welcome :)

  4. Peter Parys

    I’ve put the registry keys in a self renaming batch file. copy the code in a text editor and save anywhere as .bat-file.

    :: start :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    @echo off

    set scriptNameCopy=always move files
    set scriptNameMove=always copy files

    set currentName=%~n0

    if “%currentName%” == “%scriptNameCopy%” (
    REG ADD HKCR\* /v DefaultDropEffect /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    REG ADD HKCR\AllFilesystemObjects /v DefaultDropEffect /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    ren %0 “%scriptNameMove%.bat”
    ) else (
    REG ADD HKCR\* /v DefaultDropEffect /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f
    REG ADD HKCR\AllFilesystemObjects /v DefaultDropEffect /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f
    ren %0 “%scriptNameCopy%.bat”
    :: end :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Nice. Thanks for sharing Peter!

  5. Jimmy S.

    This tweak doesn’t work for me at all. I’ve used Winaero Tweaker and registry editor to change the settings to move files since I have multiple partitions but when I’m moving files around, it only asks me the default operation. I’m currently running in Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview build 16188 (rs_prerelease branch).

  6. D-WORD

    Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFileSystemObject\
    Add 32-bit DWORD name: DefaultDropEffect – and set it to 2.
    The change will take effect without reboot, so you can immediately test it.

    1. Jimmy S.

      Sorry for the late reply but it’s still not working for me. As of this writing, I’m running in build 16125.

      1. David

        I had the same problem using DND after changing Explorer settings to leave only This PC setting.
        If you keep Quick access then you can DND on left and right and between the two.

  7. junked

    since I installed the tweak
    I cannot DRAG&DROP anymore in explorer (win 10 1709 64b)
    I looked up the registry where the 2 DefaultDropEffect keys are on 2
    rebooting has no effect whatsoever

  8. Momo03

    I seem to accidentally activate a “tweak” with my common settings which I really don’t want.

    Somehow in windows-explorer the drag’n’drop- function from file-section to the left folder-panel is blocked. When I drag something to the left pane (to move/copy it to a drive or expanded folder), the pointer changes to a red “X”.

    It’s totally annoying and I have no idea where I activated this, or how I can revert it.

    Any idea?

    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Restore the Quick Access item in the Navigation Pane. Thanks to Microsoft for making it annoying.

  9. Nicholas Johnson

    To set the default drag and drop action in windows 10 you have to follow some instructions. Otherwise, you might get into trouble. In this article, the whole procedures are explained in a proper way.

  10. Facebook

    Drag and Drop is the old process that is Invented from Windows 7. How to activate the Drag and Drop process by default that is explained in this site. To activate this process you can follow step by step from the site.

  11. Simon Lawrence

    Brilliant, easy to follow instructions, works a treat, thank you very much

  12. Christian

    Thank you so much. This worked wonders for moving files.
    But I was wondering…
    I used to be able to highlight text drag and drop a copy of the text. However, now with the latest update of Win10 2020/06, this doesn’t work for me anymore. Tried your settings and thought it might do the same but without any luck.
    Any help would be appreciated

  13. Asif Iqbal

    This tweak works fine on windows explorer but I found it is not working when I am using a third party explorer like ACDsee.
    Could you please confirm it will work on all file explorers.

    1. n0rie9a

      total commander here, apparently it doesnt support external file viewers. in explorer works just fine

  14. n0rie9a

    win 7 here, it doesnt work

    1. n0rie9a

      delete the comment, it works in explorer, although i kinda expected it to work in at least total commander


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