How-To Geek

Undo an Accidental Move or Delete With a Keyboard Shortcut in Windows Explorer

Have you ever accidentally deleted the wrong file, or duplicated files while trying to select them with the mouse? Those types of mistakes can be extremely frustrating, but there’s a really, really simple way to reverse them.

All you have to do is use the Ctrl+Z keyboard shortcut, or use Edit \ Undo on the menu.


This is especially handy when you are trying to select a bunch of files, and accidentally move the mouse and copy them into the same folder instead:


Once you do that, just immediately use the Ctrl+Z shortcut and the files will be removed, although you will get the regular delete confirmation dialog:


This can be confusing, but since the accidentally copied file is now going to be removed permanently, it makes sense that you’ll have to accept the deletion.

Also note that this works in any version of Windows.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/20/08

Comments (16)

  1. justme

    this doesn’t work with [shift]+[del]

  2. The Geek

    That’s a very good point, it doesn’t work for that.

  3. Phil

    You are so cool. I’m a older guy with a moderate amount of compuker knowledge, but learn new stuff everyday from your site. I might even pay a little for your stuff… but then again, no I probably won’t. Don’t get any ideas now…U B Da’ Dudes or dudettes! Phil

  4. Pandemic_1444

    I was forced to learn that long ago. I’m so impatient I often ended up moving the wrong file, and the worst renaming/moving multiple files because I’d forgotten to deselect the last one.

  5. socmoe

    hey it works! thanks!

  6. Rudy Roesel

    What if you stupidly moved 1500 files and then went on to do something else. Is there anyway you can return them to their original folder?

  7. Julius Moody

    I removed the .pst folders form outlook in office xp. .pst emails are still on compter so how to get them back on my outlook folders list?

    Julius Moody

  8. Terri McDonald

    Surely you’re not trying to tell me my HP is old. I’ve been out of wwork so long I’m embarassed to say. Can’t afford to pay attention. Am plaanning to take a nursing class mid-September. When going to high school I worked as an aide & med aide. Not sure my boddy can take it now. I have broken my neck wiped out my tail bone & did chemo. I think I have a chance to test my stamina beforehand.

    As far as the computer goes, I’m such an organizational rag, need help here & so much more. Technology has left me behind, I have such curiosity-wanna know ‘everything’ that’s such a huge space, though. I’d settle for a small most necessary piece of it. Also, I do not like the name ‘Geek’, but in my opinion maake great & loyal friends. Can’t think of questions now. It’s1:32am-gotta go. Tks

  9. Rylee

    the stupidest geek trick ever. so stupid i knew it in 3rd grade. hehe!

  10. PhilE

    It DOES NOT make sense that it asks if you want to Perm delete the files and is SUPER confusing…it is simply LAME. ITS an UNDO…meaning take step BACK, not PATCH or redo backwards.

    The concept is BACKWARDS, end…Undo is simply UNDO! I am sad to say that I am a Sys Analyst, and still find this the lamest . I usrely dont use it often enough to remember, and when i do need to use it…BAM, you get this LAME mouse chase the tail work around…JUST UNDO!

  11. Gus

    just did, exact duplicate finder and deleted (sent to a folder) ALL OF THEM (accidentally) Now no programs work. HELP!! Can I send them to their original folder somehow?

  12. Gus

    too late for “undo” won’t work.

  13. Ron

    If you deleted too many files, logged out, a good recovery program is 100% FREE from Piriform called Recuvva

    It recovers files, documents, photos, videos …

  14. GeekInThePink

    i agree with rylee! lol that’s the one of the most known keyboard shortcuts lol

  15. dun

    any trick to undo (shift + del) files …. plz suggest ??

  16. Anna Hajare

    usefull or useless. Janata will decide. Bring Janlokpal Bill only…

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