Copy Overwrite: No to All?

by Robert Nagle on 6/28/2005

in Interfaces

Have you wanted to copy all the contents of one directory to another without overwriting identical files?

Here’s an amazingly useful tip about how to Just Say No to All
when copying files/directories:

Every time you move or copy files from one folder to another, Windows checks the target folder for files that have the same names as those you are copying. If it finds a duplicate name, it asks whether you want to overwrite the file in the target folder. When more than one file is selected, your choices are ‘Yes’ (overwrite just this file), ‘Yes to All’ (overwrite all files with matching names), ‘No’ (don’t overwrite this file), and ‘Cancel’ (stop the whole process now). If you click ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, you will see the same prompt for each duplicate that Windows finds. If you’re just resuming an interrupted download from a server, you can click ‘Yes to All’ to overwrite everything and save yourself some clicks. But this approach slows down the process as Windows overwrites files you downloaded previously. Why not just say ‘No to All’?

Burak Gl of Eskisehir, Turkey, has the solution. To say ‘No to All’, simply hold down Shift as you click No. Windows will move or copy all files except those with duplicate names in the target folder. Note that if you move or copy folders as well as files, you still get at least one prompt for folders and another for files when duplicate names are found.

Two weeks ago this problem just killed my productivity. I had to do an emergency backup of my mp3 files to my hard drive. The battery on the mp3 player was fading away, and my copying was getting interrupted numerous times. Other than using a diff tool, I had no way to tell which files I had already copied, and which I haven’t.

Windows thinks it’s safer just to overwrite all files it copies, just to be on the safe side. But I had directories with 1000s of files, and to recopy the files would take 20-30 minutes. I had a choice. Either I could keep clicking No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No or I could check Yes to All. Both were equally fatiguing. But now a solution exists.

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