Here, we report the facile preparation of tunable magnetic Ni-doped near-infrared (NIR) quantum dots (MNIR-QDs) as an efficient probe for targeting, imaging, and cellular sorting applications. We synthesized the MNIR-QDs via a hot colloidal synthesis approach to yield monodisperse and tunable QDs. These hydrophobic QDs were structurally and compositionally characterized and further functionalized with amino-PEG and carboxyl-PEG to improve their biocompatibility. Since QDs are known to be toxic due to the presence of cadmium, we have evaluated the in vitro and in vivo toxicity of our surface-functionalized MNIR-QDs. Our results revealed that surface- functionalized MNIR-QDs did not exhibit significant toxicity at the concentrations used in the experiments and are therefore suitable for biological applications. For further in vitro applications, we covalently linked folic acid to the surface of amino-PEG-coated MNIR-QDs through NHS chemistry to target the folate receptors largely present in the HeLa cells to demonstrate the specific targeting and magnetic behavior of these MNIR-QDs. Improved specificity has been observed with treatment of HeLa cells with the folic acid-linked amino PEG-coated MNIR QDs (FA-PEG-MNIR-QDs) compared to the one without folic acid. Since the synthesized probe has magnetic property, we have also successfully demonstrated sorting between the cells which have taken up the probe with the use of a magnet. Our findings strongly suggest that these functionalized MNIR-QDs can be a potential probe for targeting, cellular sorting, and bioimaging applications.