Invert a Selection of Files – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 391Invert a Selection of Files

Let’s say you’ve just downloaded 100 images from your digital camera. You want to copy all but three of them to another folder. How would you select just the 97 you want to copy?

Finder features a neat little trick to let you do just that quickly and easily. However, it works best on the desktop or in Icon view within Finder.

Start by selecting the files you don’t want to include in your selection. In my previous example, that would be the three files that we don’t want to copy. This can be done by holding down Command and selecting them.

Then press and hold the Command key and use the mouse to rubber-band select all the files—including the three you’ve already selected. You should find magic happens—the selection inverts so that files that weren’t selected now are and those that were are automatically unselected. In my example, 97 files would now be selected.

This technique works in Finder’s List and Column views too but is difficult to pull off correctly: you must start the elastic-band selection within the listing of files and not outside the boundaries of the list, or you’ll cancel the original selections.