Don’t Panic – Moving Documents in SharePoint

When I first started on SharePoint and I realized I couldn’t move files by dragging them, I panicked a little bit. My first instinct was to save the file to my desktop and then upload it again to the new folder. Talk about a gigantic waste of time! In case there are others out there who panicked, let me show you the easy way to move documents to a new location in SharePoint.


  1. In a document library, hover the mouse pointer over the document you want to move. A check box appears on the left and a list arrow on the right. You can click the list arrow and select Send To; or you can select the check box and then on the Documents contextual tab, in the Copies group, click the Send To button.
  2. Select Other Location.
  3. The Copy dialog box appears. Type the destination or paste the URL, and then click the (Click here to test) link to make sure you’re sending the document to the right place.
  4. Next you can modify the document settings. You can rename the document or add “_copy” to the end of the file name, select whether to prompt the author to send updates when the document is checked in, and decide whether to create an alert when changes are made to the source document.
  5. Click OK. You’ll be prompted to double-check your information; if it looks correct, click OK again.
  6. When the copying is complete, click Done.

Now you’ll be able to see the document in its original spot, and you’ll see a copy in the new location as well. Once you send the document copy to another location, it becomes a separate document; that is, changes to it do not affect the original document.

Because you can receive alerts when changes are made to the source document, you can know if and when you need to update all versions. If you don’t want different versions hanging around, just delete the document in the original location.

Comments (33)

  1. You can also click the Library tab and choose "Open with Explorer" item in the Connect & Export category. If you then do the same in your destination library you can then use drag and drop and do so for multiple files.

  2. Just so you know, there is a new 3rd party product called Kaboodle Renditions which makes this so much simpler especially if you want to copy metadata (with formats other than just the Microsoft proprietary ones), preserve document version history or send stuff to this new place called SharePoint Online (or you are using a Mac!).

    Apart from how easy it is to use, what sets Renditions apart is the option to set up automatic synchronization so when a source document is updated the same changes can be applied to any copies and these copies can even be in a different format, PDF for example or even a SharePoint wiki page – so there is just a single source of truth.  And if you want to archive documents rather than create different renditions then you get the option to generate a custom archive report.  I should disclose that I work for Kaboodle Software.

  3. Unfortunately I don't think there's a way to shorten the URLs within SharePoint. However, I believe if your site is externally available you can use a service like bitly.


  4. Anonymous says:

    This is good.. never tried it, time to play around moving docs.. Thanks for sharing David.

  5. Michelle says:

    Hi David,

    I have tried to use this method to move files from one SharePoint site to another, and also from within the same SharePoint site. However, each time I do this I receive and error message that the URL is too long. Is there a way to overcome this? I've thought about using bitly but not sure if it would work.



  6. Joe says:

    Getting the URL of the location you want to move the document to is not easy. You can't just go there and copy the URL, since it appears with way too many %%%, etc. It seems to me that the properties of a document should include its URL. Moving documents is one of my major complaints about Sharepoint.

  7. DWH says:

    Can this method also work with moving folders?

  8. Kate W says:

    Yes, you can shorten the URL in SharePoint. Look for the breadcrumb trail and include only those pieces. Usually you can cut back to "/Folders"

  9. Renata S says:

    Everytime i get this URL error, i need to change the name of the file, so to shorten it and then it's woking again…

  10. Renata S says:

    just a short question, is this workinh for SharePoint 2007 as well?

  11. hmayan says:

    There is an easier way to doing this. Click on the "Library" tab under Library Tools of the documents library you are trying to open. Click on "Open with Explorer" in the Connect & Export section of the ribbon. Once the library opens in the Windows Explorer, drag and drop files into your destination folder.

  12. ReebJeebs says:

    It works for me if I just type the generic file path. For example:

  13. chchch says:

    Why doesn't list work the same way – so irritated!  Moving numerous list via a template is so burdensome!

  14. Frustrated user says:

    if share point cant do this better than its basically useless to me an my organization

  15. Rob says:

    Hmayan: thanks for the helpful tip! I had a huge mess to clean up and this tip saved me several minutes if not a couple of hours!

  16. Nilesh Pradhan says:

    It's much simpler if you choose " explorer view ". See the link below.…/copying-or-moving-sharepoint-document-libraries-HA001154465.aspx

  17. AL_Bundy says:

    QUOTE :There is an easier way to doing this. Click on the "Library" tab under Library Tools of the documents library you are trying to open. Click on "Open with Explorer" in the Connect & Export section of the ribbon. Once the library opens in the Windows Explorer, drag and drop files into your destination folder.

    That way works and is so easy thanks.

  18. Computer user says:

    "There is an easier way to doing this."

    Right, if you have Windows. Sharepoint is supposedly compatible with non-Windows computers, but something as basic as moving a file to a different folder isn't possible if you're on a Mac (or Linux). I'm not talking about administering the site here — if Microsoft wants to lock that down into their OS, fine — I'm talking about being a low-level user of a Sharepoint site and not being able to maintain my documents because their file management approach hasn't been updated since the late '90s.

    I know if and when I have a choice around file management, I stay the hell away from Sharepoint. Sadly, of course, I don't always have that choice.

  19. wrh says:

    This only answers how tp COPY a file.  Moving (for example to archive) is completely different.  Ours does not have the OPEN WITH EXPOLORER option so that does not help.

  20. JP says:

    Awesome. Thanks Al_Bundy! Helped a lot!

  21. Ryan - New User says:

    Opening with explorer is the way forward!

    Very quick and simple.

    I've been working with sharepoint for only a week and found this method much easier!

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Ditto on the Open with Explorer option. Huzzah!

  23. GX says:

    To create a file management product that cannot move files from one location to another? Epic fail, a fail that only the stupid idiots at Microsoft can do.

  24. officelady says:

    yeah, sharepoint makes it so hard for people who are already computer challenge at work! I had to teach our instructors how to move their stuff and the easiest route is to open with explorer.

  25. AL says:

    What a hopeless system – Years in development and you can't move a file

  26. jor says:

    Sharepoint has to be the clunkiest software around. Awful experience.

  27. Christian Delén says:

    We have been able to move files (not tried folders yet) with webdav on mac. Connect from Finder (with cmd-K) and enter the http URI to the site. If someone is editing the file you get an error.

  28. Justin Gatewood says:

    SharePoint Workspace 2010 (discontinued, but free) allows you to connect to a workspace and work with documents without having to use the 'Open with Explorer' option (which is also very good, if you have the system/OS setup to be able to use it).

  29. Roberto Caminos says:

    Or you can click on the "Open with Explorer" and cut and paste the files like you would on your desktop.

  30. Laure says:

    Thank you , very useful and that just solved a problem for me ..

    Kind regards

  31. DCP says:

    I can't open with Explorer, I work where there are a million firewalls and security I am pretty saavy with computers and I hate Sharepoint, it is not user friendly.  

  32. Phil says:

    I agree with the comments above – what a useless system.  Trying to get the correct url is futile.

    Comeon  ms – put some resources into this tool.  It could be a great collaborative tool.

  33. Ice says:

    Site Settings,Site Content and Structure (Top level site)  Move anything from anywhere to any destination that falls under the top site.

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