It's essential to know how to select multiple files and folders on your Windows computer or device. Regardless of what you want to do with the highlighted items afterward (copy, move, delete, rename, etc.), it's faster to use your mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen to select the files and/or folders you need, instead of managing them one by one. This tutorial illustrates how to select multiple files and folders, including how to select all on Windows:
How to select multiple files on Windows by clicking or tapping
The easiest and probably most popular way to select in Windows is by clicking or tapping. To select a single item, click or tap on that particular file or folder, and it is highlighted immediately. The icon's background changes color to indicate that item is selected.
To select multiple files at once using only your mouse, you have to create a selection area around them. This only works with adjacent files and folders. Click and then hold down the mouse button while dragging the cursor to create the selection area. Release the button when the files and/or folders you want to select are highlighted.
On touch screens, you need to tap, and then immediately drag your finger to expand your selection area. Take the finger off the screen when you are satisfied with the selected files and folders.
After highlighting the items you need, you can right-click or press-and-hold on them to reveal more options, like deleting files or cutting, copying, and pasting. You can also drag them to another location, like the Recycle Bin.
How to select multiple files on Windows with Ctrl and Shift
By clicking or tapping, you can only highlight adjacent items. But what if you need to select multiple files and folders on Windows, and they are not next to each other? That is when the Ctrl key comes in. Make your first selection, and then press Ctrl on your keyboard while clicking or tapping on any additional items you want to highlight.
TIP: The Ctrl key is also used to deselect items. So, if you like, you can select a group of items, and then press Ctrl on your keyboard while clicking or tapping on the highlighted files or folders you want to remove.
The Shift key comes in handy when you want to select multiple files and folders that are next to each other, especially if there's a lot of them. Click or tap on the first item you want to highlight, hold down the Shift key, and then click/tap on the last file. The items in between are also selected.
If you change your mind, hold down Shift again and click/tap on another file or folder to modify which items are highlighted. The selection now ends with the file or folder you clicked last and includes all the items in between.
How to select multiple files using the keyboard only
If you're wondering "How do I select multiple files at once using the keyboard?", the answer also includes the Ctrl and Shift keys. To highlight multiple adjacent files and/or folders, hold down Shift and use the arrow keys to extend your selection in either direction. The items between the first and the last one you highlight are also selected.
Same as before, Ctrl helps you select multiple files on Windows that are not next to each other.
Use Ctrl and the arrows on your keyboard to keep an item selected while moving through the folder. When you come across another item you want to highlight, press the Spacebar to select it. As long as you hold down Ctrl while moving with the arrow keys, you can select as many items as you like. Continue the process until everything is selected. If you change your mind about an item, press Ctrl + Spacebar to deselect it.
How to select all on Windows
To highlight every file and folder in a certain location on your Windows computer or device, it's easiest to use the Select all shortcut: Ctrl + A.
This highlights everything in that folder immediately.
TIP: To rename all the items, check out How to rename all files in a folder in Windows 10.
In Windows 10, you can also use the Select all button from File Explorer's Home tab to select all items in a certain location.
You can also use the Select none and Invert selection options. To learn about the Select section in Windows 10 and more, read 9 ways to manage files with File Explorer from the Home tab.
Bonus: Show checkboxes to select items in Windows 10
In Windows 10, you can use a visual aid to make your selected items more visible. Access File Explorer's View tab and, in the Show/hide section, check the "Item check boxes" option.
While this option is activated, a check mark appears in a box in the upper-left corner of any selected item, as seen below.
Which way to select multiple files and folders do you prefer?
You can mix and match the methods illustrated in this tutorial to find a comfortable way to select multiple items in Windows. We rely heavily on the mouse and Ctrl key to select multiple files, but always use the Select All shortcut when we need everything in a folder. What about you? Which way to select multiple files and folders do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.