How to bulk rename files with File Renamer

With a bulk file renamer, you can rename a group of files in one shot with a specific filename, extension, prefix, suffix, and more. Here's how to do so with the File Renamer tool.

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Image: iStockphoto/Rawf8

You may sometimes need to rename a large number of files by giving them a different filename, extension, or a combination of both. To easily accomplish this, you can turn to various free third-party tools that can rename a batch of files according to your own specifications. You'll find a variety of bulk file renamers available, but one program I like, and use, is File Renamer.

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With File Renamer, you can specify a filename and extension, add or modify a prefix and suffix for the name, and preview the new names before you change the files. As such, this type of program works best if want to give a batch of files the same basic name but distinguish each one with a different prefix, suffix, or other unique identifier. A tool like File Renamer is especially helpful for changing the default names of photos and videos that you snap with a camera or mobile device.

Available from Sherrod Computers, File Renamer comes in three flavors: The basic free version offers all the standard commands; for $10, the Regular version kicks in support for subfolders and other features; and, for $19.95, the Deluxe Edition adds even more options, such as the ability to undo a file rename. You can always try the free flavor and then upgrade if necessary.

Download and install File Renamer from the Sherrod Computers website and then launch the program. The left pane offers a standard folder tree from which you can navigate to the folder that contains the files you want to rename--select that folder. All the files in that folder are automatically checked, which means they'll all be included in the rename, though you can easily uncheck any files you need to exclude (Figure A).

Figure A

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Okay, now think about how you want to rename these files. What information do you want to include in the basic filename? If these are photos, perhaps you want the filename to convey the subject or location. If these are documents, maybe you want the filename to convey the basic topic. In my case, I often use File Renamer to rename screenshots that I've taken with my phone or tablet for an article that I've written. In that case, the filename typically includes the name of the article.

Next, think about how you want to distinguish each file with a unique identifier. For example, you can add sequential numbers at the start of the filename, as in 01-XXXX.XXX, 02-XXXX.XXX, 03-XXXX.XXX, etc., or you can add them at the end of the filename, as in XXXX-01.XXX, XXXX-02.XXX, XXXX-03.XXX, etc. I typically choose to add them at the start of the filename, so that I can easily sort and see the files by name.

Now, let's look at the options available in File Renamer. You can include the same prefix or suffix for all your files as something separate from the core filename. You can change the extension; for example, maybe all your files have an extension of .jpeg and you want to change it to .jpg. You can include a unique parameter--an effective way to add an identifier at the end of a filename. You can include a dash between the filename and the identifier. The option I use most frequently is the one for filename itself. To change the basic name, move to the Filename section, click the field under Leave Unchanged, and change it to Custom Filename (Figure B).

Figure B

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Type the new name in the filename field. I like to add a dash between each word to make longer names easier to read. If you wish to include a number or other identifier at the start of the filename, check the option to Place Unique Parameter Before Filename. A new section called Unique Parameter appears. Check the Include box and then type the unique parameter you wish to use. If you're using numbers, the Mask field automatically adds leading zeros so your files are sorted properly if you go beyond 10 or 100. You can reduce the number of leading zeros in the Mask field if you don't need the default number of 0000 (Figure C).

Figure C

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The Sample File Name below the renaming sections offers a preview of the new filename so you know if you're on the right track. If you're ready to proceed, click the Preview button. The display changes to show you the current name of each file along with the prospective new name (Figure D).

Figure D

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If you're satisfied with the new name, click the Apply button to perform the rename. Your files are then renamed (Figure E).

Figure E

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The Deluxe edition of File Renamer grants you the ability to undo a rename if something went wrong. But no matter which version you use, make sure you preview the rename before you perform it to ensure that the new name is correct.

File Renamer offers other capabilities. You can delete, move, or insert characters at specific positions in the name. You can also find specific characters in a filename and replace them with other characters, use keywords to rename files, and even rename files included in a list.

Whether you need a basic or simple bulk rename, or something more advanced, you should be able to accomplish it with File Renamer.

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