Use the Mac Finder to Batch Rename Files

Posted on by Larry

I use screenshots a lot in my work. And, when you use the Apple Screenshot utility, you end up with a lot of files with useless file names. Recently, thanks to a tip from a reader, I discovered a hidden feature in the Finder that can make renaming files easier.

If all you need is to quickly rename and sequence files, this free utility, shipped with the macOS, will do the job. Let me show you how it works.

NOTE: Here’s my review of Apple Screenshot.

This screenshot is an example. When I write one of my tutorials, I take screen shots to illustrate what I’m writing about. Except, these file names don’t tell me what the images are actually about.

To rename a single file, as you know, you can highlight it and press Return. But, what if you need to rename a bunch? What I learned is that the Finder gives you three options:

In all cases, to get started, select the files you want to rename in the Finder, then Control-click one of the selected file names. Choose Rename # Items.

OPTION 1: REPLACE TEXT

Click the popup menu at the top left and select Replace Text.

Enter the file name text you want to replace in the Find field, then the new text in the Replace with field. This doesn’t change the entire file name, only the text you enter to Find. The change is illustrated at the bottom of this window (lower red arrow).

Click Rename and the text is replaced.

OPTION 2: ADD TEXT

Click the popup menu at the top left and select Add Text.

In the Add Text dialog, you can enter the text you want to add at the beginning or end of a file name.

NOTE: Text added at the end of the file name is added before the file extension, in case you were wondering.

OPTION 3: FORMAT TEXT

For me, the most useful option is the third: Format. Click the popup menu at the top left and select Format. This menu provides several options: Replace the text with a new name and index, a new new and counter, or a new name with today’s date and time; the time is based upon the order in which clips were selected.

The Index or Counter can be put at the start of the name or at the end before the file extension.

NOTE: When adding an Index or Counter, be sure to include an underline or space to separate the number from the name. This improves readability.

Here are illustrations of all six Format options. The top of each panel shows the settings, the bottom of each panel displays a sample of what the new file name will look like. As before, click Rename to make the changes.

A CAUTION

If the order you created the original files is important to you – as it is to me because I create screen shots in the order I write about them – you need to be careful in how you select files for renaming.

If you make a mistake, Undo will rename all changed files back to their original name.

NOTE: It just struck me that a HUGE benefit of using Cmd-click to select clips is that it makes resequencing images easy. If you don’t like the order in which you created the images, simply select them in the order you need and they will be renumbered that way.

SUMMARY

If all you need is to quickly rename and sequence files, this Finder utility is fast and easy to use. I used it for this article with no problems. However, if you need more options, read my review of Better Rename 10, an outstanding file renaming utility.


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5 Responses to Use the Mac Finder to Batch Rename Files

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks Larry, great tip!

  2. Jerry Rowe says:

    HI Larry and thanks for all that you do!

    NameChanger is also a great piece of FREE software that I think has a lot more options for batch-renaming… For Mac, the link is:
    https://mrrsoftware.com/namechanger/

    Thanks and best regards,

    Jerry

  3. Steve Sweitzer says:

    WOW. I’ver been looking for this for years and had no idea it had been added.
    THANKS!

  4. Thomas Varughese says:

    If you have AdobeCC, Adobe Bridge will let you do batch rename functions too.

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