How To Copy a File in Windows XP

You might want to copy a file in Windows XP for any number of reasons. You may want to copy files to replace missing or corrupted ones or perhaps to provide a backup of a file while you make changes to the original file.

The basic concept of a file copy, however, is to create an exact duplicate of the file. The original file is not deleted.

The ability to copy files is a basic function of any operating system, including Windows XP.

There are many different ways to copy a file in Windows XP but I think the method below is easiest.

Follow these steps to copy a file from one location to another in Windows XP:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Copying any file in Windows XP should take less than a few minutes unless the file is very large

Here's How:

  1. Click on Start and then My Computer.

  2. Locate the hard drive, network drive, or another storage device that the original file you want to copy is located on and double-click to open the contents of the drive.

    Note: If you're planning on copying files from a recent download from the Internet, check your My Documents and Desktop folders for the downloaded file.

    Many downloaded files come in a compressed format so you may need to uncompress the file to locate the individual file or files you're after.

  3. Continue to navigate down through whatever drives and folders are necessary until you find the file you want to copy.

    Note: If you're prompted with a message that says "This folder contains files that keep your system working properly. You should not modify its contents.", click the Show the contents of this folder link to continue.

    Important: All you do when you copy a file is make an exact duplicate - you do not delete or change the file in any way.

  1. Highlight the file you want to copy by clicking on it once. Do not open the file.

    Tip: Want to copy more than one file (or folder)? Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and select any files and folders you want to copy. Release the Ctrl key when you're complete. All highlighted files and folders will be copied.

  1. Choose Edit and then Copy To Folder... from the menu at the top of the folder's window.

  2. In the Copy Items window, use the + icons to locate the folder you want to copy the file that you selected in Step 4 to.

    Note: If the folder does not yet exist that you want to copy the file to, use the Make New Folder button to create the folder.

  3. Click on the folder you want to copy the file to and then click the​ Copy button.

  4. The file you selected in Step 4 will be copied to the folder that you chose in Step 7.

    The original file will be left unchanged and an exact copy will be created in the location you specified.


  1. Not a Windows XP user? See How Do I Copy a File in Windows? for specific instructions for your version of Windows.

  2. Having problems copying a file in Windows XP? See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more.

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