How to Quickly Copy a File or Folder Path to the Clipboard on Mac OS Guide

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There are several ways to recover the full path of a file or folder from Mac OS X, and we’ll cover the two easiest ways here and also the third option, which uses the service to immediately copy any path to the clipboard. First, we use the Get Details panel to pull the full path to each item, and then we use another trick that uses the terminal’s underrated feature to retrieve each directory or file path. The optional Automator service provides another option for copying file and folder paths that can be quickly accessed by right-clicking on OS X’s Finder via the menu.

Just for clarity, we want to copy the path to a file or folder on the clipboard so it can be pasted elsewhere. This is different from showing a path, which can be seen in any Finder window via an optional window bar or even in the title bar using the default trick.

Let’s start by copying full paths so you can use them elsewhere.

Copy the file/directory path from the OS X Get Info window

Perhaps the easiest and most user-friendly way, you can easily search for any file or folder path in the Get Info window by following these steps:

  • Select the file or folder in the OS X Finder, then press Command + i to call Get Info
  • Click and drag next to “Where” to select the path, then press Command + C to copy the entire path to the clipboard

Copy the path to a file or folder on your Mac via Get Info

Find Information can also be used Control-click and right-click. For most use cases and occasional full path usage, the Get Info trick is simple, fast, effective, and should fit most people’s billing.

Print the path through the Mac terminal

Dragging and dropping anything onto the OS X terminal provides the full path to that destination.

  • Launch Terminal by dragging and dropping each item from the Finder to the Terminal window so you can immediately print the entire path
  • Select and highlight a path to copy it to the clipboard as usual

Print and copy the file path to the Mac terminal

This trick is great if you want to use a path in a terminal, or it might not be as easy as the Get Info tip because it requires opening another application.

Create a “Copy Path” service by right clicking on the menu

If you often find yourself needing to copy and paste file and folder paths, creating an Automate service will make your life easier as you can then right-click on OS X from the context menu, which can be accessed from exist in the Finder. This is a great trick from CNet and it’s easy to install yourself:

  • Start Automator and create a new “service”.
  • Search for “Copy to clipboard” and drag it to the right panel of the Service
  • Set the Get Selected Service setting to “Files or Folders” and the “i” setting to “Finder”, as shown in the screenshot below.
  • Save the service as a Copy path

Round

Now, go anywhere in the Finder, select any file system, either a directory or a file, and then right-click to reveal the destination Copy Path created.

Copy the path to a file or folder via a Mac OS X service

Selecting this option will immediately copy the path of the selected item to the clipboard, which you can paste elsewhere.

What is the path?

For strangers, you can think of an item’s path as its address in the file system by pointing directly to where it lives on your computer. For example, a file named Testfile.txt located on the desktop of your user account would have a full path like something like this:

/Users/USERNAME/Desktop/Testfile.txt

For items in user directories, you can use a tilde to shorten the path like this:

~/Desktop/Testfile.txt

This abbreviation does not work with system files or other user files, so a full path is required. All the methods we share and copy use the full path, not a shorthand, even if that file or directory is in the user’s folders.

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FAQ: Quickly Copy a File or Folder Path to the Clipboard in Mac OS X

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