How to use Windows 8's cool new file-copy feature

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My new slogan for Windows 8: "It's not all bad!" ($50K and it's yours, Microsoft.)

Misguided though the Metro interface may be, there are some nice under-the-hood improvements to be found in the OS. For example, there's the File History feature I wrote about a couple months ago.

And the other day I did my first bit of file copying. Lo and behold, Windows 8 offers a vastly superior file-copying experience, though you might miss the benefits if you're not paying attention.

Let's say you're moving a bunch of stuff to an external hard drive. As usual, the process goes: drag, drop, and wait. The initial good news is that you'll be waiting less: Windows 8 is generally faster at copying files.

But take a closer look at the file-copy dialog box that appears. For starters, if you click the More details arrow, you're treated to a real-time progress meter that graphs the current and total speed of the copy process. Neat!

You may also notice there's now a pause button. It's true: Windows 8 lets you pause file copies. It's not something you'll probably need to do very often, but it's nice to have the option.

Indeed, as Chris Hoffman points out in How to add Windows 8's best desktop features to Windows 7, "Windows 8’s file-copy dialog box may be its biggest desktop improvement. It brings all copying and moving processes into a single window, tosses in a pause button, deals with file conflicts more intelligently, and is just plain faster than before."

He goes on to note that jealous Windows 7 users should check out the third-party utility TeraCopy, a recommendation I definitely second.

Have you found any other small but noteworthy improvements in Windows 8? Hit the comments and tell me which ones!

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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