Fix Copy Paste in Mac not working for files

September 8, 2021

On a rare occasion, just when you intend to move files to a separate folder, you may find copy paste in Mac not responding and all files locked in place. This is a common problem experienced in macOS and can be fixed easily by changing the permissions settings of files.

Copy Paste mac Not Working

How to fix Copy Paste in Mac not working problem?

If you are facing trouble in getting Copy Paste in Mac to work properly for a file, try these manual troubleshooting steps.

  1. On your Mac, go to an item (Documents, in my case).
  2. Right-click the file or folder.
  3. Select Get Info or press Command-I.
  4. Scroll down to Sharing & Permissions heading.
  5. Click the side-arrow to expand the menu.
  6. Click the pop-up menu next to your username.
  7. click the lock icon by entering an administrator password.
  8. Change the permissions to either Read & Write or Read only.
  9. Change the permissions for location where you want the file to appear.

Owing to its simplicity and benefits, the Copy-paste function has become quite popular across all operating systems and most applications. In macOS, you can perform this function manually via a mouse or use the keyboard shortcut - ⌘ C (copy) and ⌘V (paste).

What is the difference between copy and move?

Although copying and moving are the terms used interchangeably, there’s a subtle difference between them. While moving refers to the change in original location of a file or folder, copying means creating an additional copy of the file or folder without changing its original location. For example, let’s say you’re in the Finder, and you drag a file from Desktop to your Documents folder. This file will no longer available under Desktop then, but in a separate folder (Documents), although on the same disk or volume.

On the other hand, when you drag a file from your Desktop to an external hard disk, you create an additional copy of it. Here, since the file is already present in its original location; this file is said to have been just copied.

How to fix Copy Paste in Mac not working for files or folders?

On your Mac go to the item or place where the files is saved. In my case, it is the Documents folder.

Next, select a file you want to copy or move in Mac.

Copy Paste In Mac Not Working
Copy Paste in Mac Not Working

Right-click the file and select the Get Info option. Alternatively, you can use the ⌘-I key shortcut to open the same.


Now, when the Get Info window for the fie opens, scroll down to the Sharing & Permissions heading. Tap the side-arrow next to the Sharing & Permissions heading to expand its menu.

Unlock Permissions
Unlock Permissions

You’ll need to make changes to the Permissions settings here to fix the problem. So, tap the Lock icon at the bottom.

Enter Password
Enter Password

When prompted, enter the password.

Change Mac File Permissions Settings
Change Mac File Permissions Settings

Now, change the permissions to either Read & Write or Read only. When confirmed, you’ll access the rights to copy-paste files in Mac at a location where you want to put them.

Hope it makes sense!


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Hemant Saxena
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