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Renaming Files


Renaming Files

Let’s start off by saying there are quite a few ways to rename files. We’re going to focus on a script that’s already on your Mac, waiting for you to click it. It has it’s shortcomings though, since it’s based on a find and replace mechanism.

You might use Automator to rename files. That looks like a good way too, but Murphy has had mixed results. And he’s not the only one. Sometimes the files don’t get named in the expected sequence. He hasn’t figured out why and it’s a hassle to check the sequence every time you rename.


Files named a.txt b.txt c.txt. If you rename them to something like text1, text2, text3 wouldn’t you expect a.txt to become text1? Sometimes that doesn’t happen. If you can shed some light on this by all means do. Let us know in the comments!

You can rename files with a shell script too. Or use an Action in Photoshop. Or with utility applications like renamer4mac (freeware). But what’s the best way? Post a great answer in the comments or send it to murphy at murphymac dot com. If there’s something we really like we’ll make another screencast.

Be careful when renaming files, especially important ones. Test to make sure your metadata, spotlight comments, dates, etc – aren’t altered as a result of your naming tool.

If you want to be extra safe,  Automator can make copies of the originals and rename those. Apple provides detailed instructions in a tutorial.

Note: If you don’t have the script icon used in the screencast, see this post for information on installing it.

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4 comments to “Renaming Files”

  1. I like the batch renaming command in Adobe Bridge in the Creative Suite 2. The dialog box shows a ‘before’ and ‘after’ example of how the file name will look. It also has more options for forming the file name.

    Thanks for all the tips!

  2. I personally prefer FiliList by
    It’s got an automatic preview and just in (the very unlikely) case it doesn’t get the desired order of files right you can change the order of your files by si,ply dragging them to the right position.

    As far as I’m concerned this app is a must-have.

    “File List is a batch file renamer. It currently supports the following basic renaming routines: Find and replace (including support for regular expressions); Number sequentially; Change case; Set extension; Add prefix/suffix; Remove/insert characters.”

  3. Thanks. I’ll be sure to take a look.

  4. This one works for me, it replaces within the document

    perl -pi -e ‘s/find/replace/g’ *.txt

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