There are several ways to select files and folders in the Finder. The method you choose can make the selection process easy and help you accomplish more in less time.

Contiguous Selection

The contiguous selection is when we select two or more files or folders that are next to one another. The files and folders need to be next to one another for selection. Contiguous means near or touching. This means we don’t jump one file or folder to select another file or folder. Selecting files or folders that are not directly next to one another is call non-contiguous. This, of course, means that the files are not near or touching one another.

The screenshot below is an example of contiguous file selection in list view.

select multiple files

This is an example of contiguous file selection in icon view.

select all files and folders

This is an example of non-contiguous file selection in list view.

select some files and folders

This is an example of non-contiguous file selection in icon view.

select some files and folders in icon view

We can select contiguous files by dragging a selection box around the files.

drag to select files

We can also select contiguous files by clicking once on a file or folder to select the first item. We then use a modifier key to select the remaining files. This modifier key is the “Shift” key.

select one file

While holding the Shift key down, click once on the last file and/or folder to select all the files/or folders between the first and last selection. This is why it’s called contiguous. All the files that are near one another are selected. This is what a contiguous selection looks like in a list view. Contiguous selection of files using this process only works in list view. To select contiguous files in icon view we need to click and drag a selection.

select contiguous files

Non-Contiguous Selection

When selecting files and/or folders we may not always need to select files and/or folders that are next to one another. This is called a non-contiguous selection. This means the files are not close to one another. The files and/or folders need to be in the same folder or Finder window.

We can select files and folders across two different Finder windows but we can’t do anything with the files selected in both windows. Only the files in the selected Finder window will be affected by any action.

select files

To select non-contiguous files we need to use a modifier key. This modifier key is the Command key. The Command key is located to the left of the space bar. Hold down this Command key while selecting files and folders.

some files selected

The non-contiguous selection of files and folders is the same in icon view.

three files selected

Combining contiguous and non-contiguous Selection

We can combine the contiguous and non-contiguous selection process. We can select a group of files and folders using the contiguous selection process.

several files selected

We can hold down the Command modifier key to skip a set of files or folders and click the file or folder where we want to resume our selection.

one non-contiguous file selected

We can continue to use the modifier key to select non-contiguous files and folders.

non-contiguous files selected

We can then change over to the Shift modifier key to select contiguous files. This process only works in list view.

contiguous and non-contiguous files selected

To select contiguous and non-contiguous files in icon view, we need to switch over to the click and drag process for selecting files. We can click and drag a selection of contiguous files.

drag to select files

Using the Command modifier key, we can select non-contiguous files and folders.

files selected in icon view

To select contiguous files again, we need to keep holding the Command modifier key and drag out a selection of files and/or folders.

drag to select more files

I use these selection options all the time. They are very useful and a time saver when I need to copy, move, or delete lots of files and/or folders.