How to Restore Cut Files

By Josh Baum

There are several ways to move files within Windows, and one of these methods is the cut-and-paste method. When you "cut" a file, it is temporarily relocated to a virtual clipboard. You may then "paste" the file into a different directory. Fortunately, you cannot accidentally delete a file by cutting it; the file will always exist either in its original directory, in a new directory or in the clipboard, depending on what actions you take. You can restore any cut files to their original directories using this method.

Step 1

Locate the files that you believe have been cut. If the cut files were originally located on the desktop, simply close or minimize any active windows and look for them on the desktop. If the cut files were originally located anywhere else, right-click the "Start" button in Windows and select "Explore" to open Windows Explorer. Browse through the file directory in the left panel to find the folder where the cut files originated.

Step 2

Confirm that the suspected cut files are on the clipboard by looking at their file icons. When a file has been cut, its icon turns partially transparent. If the icons of your cut files are partially transparent, that means their current location is on the clipboard. If they are solid, that means the files are located in the directory in which the icons appear, so there is no need to restore them.

Step 3

Right-click in any empty area of the folder containing the transparent file icons. Click "Paste" on the pop-up menu that appears. This will restore the cut files to their original directory.

Tips & Warnings

  • The virtual clipboard can only hold one file or group of files at a time. Because of this limitation, files that have been cut to the clipboard will automatically be restored if you cut or copy any other file to the clipboard before pasting the first file into a directory.