How to batch rename files on Mac

By , Oct 18, 2014

We’re still discovering some of the new features to be found underneath the surface of OS X. One such feature, batch renaming, allows you to use the Finder to rename multiple files at once. Previously, such an ability required the usage of third-party utilities, but with OS X’s built-in batch renaming, this is no longer the case.

As someone who often has to rename groups of files, this is a welcomed addition to OS X. Today, I walk you through the process of using batch renaming in OS X via ultra-high-definition 4K video.

Note this video was recorded on OS X Yosemite, but it works just the same in El Capitan.

Renaming multiple files at once on Mac

Step 1: To batch rename a group of files, select the files you want to rename, right-click, and select “Rename X items.” You’ll then be presented with the batch rename interface. The interface features three main options: Replace Text, Add Text, and Format.

The first two options, Replace Text and Add Text, sound exactly like they work. You can quickly replace text contained within the file names, or append text to the beginning or the end of file names. It works beautifully.

The Format option is a bit more robust than the other two options. Format lets you rename the entire file, and is more appropriate when addressing groups of files with dissimilar names.

Step 2: In this example, we are going to completely format the file names and rename them something that makes more sense to us. Note that in this screenshot, I also add numbers to each file, so the output will be something like: My iMac 1, My iMac 2. My iMac 3, etc…

batch rename files on Mac

Step 3: When you’re done tweaking the settings to your liking, simply click on Rename. The file names will then be overwritten following the format you have applied.

While the tool lacks some of the advanced functionality that you’ll find in third-party paid utilities—there’s no extension renaming, for instance—it’s deep enough to satisfy the needs of most users, and is a much-needed addition to OS X.

If you need more advanced renaming features, I can personally recommend Name Mangler 3. It’s deep, yet features an intuitive interface that’s easy to learn.

What do you think about batch renaming? Are you glad that we finally have the ability to rename groups of files natively? Sound off down below in the comments with your thoughts and opinions.

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  • ✯Mike✯

    is there a real-life use for this?

    • Yes. I use it to rename photos for posts, and last I checked I was real 🙂

      • ✯Mike✯

        Thank you, guess i just never deal with groups of files in this kind of context. 🙂

      • Eikast

        You only exist on the Internet. Not real buddy.
        Jk. Thanks for the post

    • Rob_Huska

      As a web developer, I sometimes have to rename a large number of exported svg files when creating icons. I used to use Automator to do this, but having it built in is going to be very useful!

    • therealjjohnson

      When I back up my iPhone Photos i like to keep them separate from my iPad photos. This will allow me to rename them iPad photos 2014, 2015, etc

    • DMSPOKEMONFAN

      I have lots of comics and manga on my Mac, I use this to organize them by series and numbers

  • Mannsang SK

    please help me i need more space but i don’t know how to delete it

    • AF

      Could you let me know what is the importance of making many partitions?

    • Steven Honey

      i don’t think you need to delete it, besause it doesn’t look like anything is there to delete there at the bottom. can you just click on the top partition and drag the rectangle all the way down?

  • Matt

    It’s the little things like this, that make the product as a whole amazing.

  • Awesome small but mighty feature! This is something I ALWAYS install File Renamer Turbo for on my Windows PC, gonna suggest it to Microsoft to copy in Windows 10…would be awesome to have yet another desktop enhancing software integrated.

  • On Linux operating systems I’ve always used a piece of software called KRename which has all sorts of functionality. I’ve yet to find a comparable OS X application though 🙁

  • AF

    very nice option. I like it…

  • skypawn

    Saw this feature on the keynote. Have been using Automator for batch renaming, good to have the option to do it right in finder.

  • Chang in Charge

    Awesome post Jeff already used this twice: once to batch rename the Android Lollipop Ringtones i downloaded for my iPhone and the second time to batch rename a ton of photos.

  • DogeCoin

    Actually you could bash rename files in default MacOSX, you just have to know your way around the BASH shell.

  • maeghith | Ramón FSM

    I didn’t need any 3rd party software to do mass renaming on Mac OS X.

    There’s an Automator action that has that same dialog (bar aesthetic differences). I used it since my first Mac (that run Tiger), but I believe it was there since even before.

    But It’s really nice to see the Automator action getting it’s own finder menu.

  • Turbojacket

    I screenshot stuff for my Etsy store all the time. This will be invaluable!

  • Keith S.

    Jeff — I love your blog, and have often recommended. So I hate to sound ungrateful, but there are an awful lot of OS X Yosemite articles lately for a blog that has as its subheader “iPhone – iPad – iOS” — note the absence of OS X. I’m a long-time iPhone user, but I use Windows, so I really have no interest in seeing Yosemite stuff in my RSS feed. I won’t belabor this point, but if we can maybe have an RSS Feed that excludes non-iOS posts, that would be great. Or, just a thought, you could set up another blog for that, so you can double your well-deserved advertising revenue!

    • Keith, I understand. It’s just that Yosemite is kind of a big deal, mores than any version of OS X to date. That’s due to its iOS-centric features, and Continuity. It’ll die down in a week or so. Hang in there. I presume you’re not a Mac user, or you just don’t care about the Mac as much?

      Whatever the case, sorry about that. In a week or so it’ll be a bit more balanced.

      • Keith S.

        Thanks, Jeff. The articles on Continuity etc. make perfect sense, but then there are some like this one that really have nothing to do with iOS. I will be patient, though. Hard not to be when you’re an iOS jailbreak user! 🙂

  • molipier

    In the italian version, Apple uses “:” as separator in date format and if i try to rename file with data and hours, it doesn’t work.

    • Keith S.

      That’s a filesystem limitation – colons and several other special characters aren’t allowed for portability reasons.

      • molipier

        Yes, to solve i need to change my system preferences and replace : with . or other puntuaction

  • In the replace text option….is there a wildcard key?

  • cinchaufklinke

    Excellent!

  • MrJeff2U2

    This is freakin’ awesome. I have 2550 .mp3 files on my mac that I need to put on a MS-DOS formatted USB flash drive to listen to music in my car via a USB port. Of course all the songs have 01 , 02 ,… at the front of the name. This way I can remove the numbers and sort the songs by name. I could even divide them up by artist as in iTunes. Thanks so much!

  • wahid haq

    I suggest everyone to try KrojamSoft BatchRenameFiles program. It’s really work for me.

  • Guest

    Hello, i foumd this software is really helpful for batch renaming in windows. It works really well and its easy to use no need to type any codes. So try it. The software’s name is Krojamsoft Batch Rename.

  • Hello, i foumd this software is really helpful for batch renaming in windows. It works really well and its easy to use no need to type any codes. So try it. The software’s name is Krojamsoft Batch Rename.

  • thank you for this post. i don’t mind using third party apps for stuff like this but it’s much nicer having it built in OSX, just wish the counter could do roman numerals for prefaces in books, but luckily they are usually short enough that doing it by hand isn’t a big deal

  • darkan9el

    I wondered if you could rename files with sequenced numbers i.e. DSCF1000, DSCF1001 and rename the number by using a wildcard phrase such as DSCF#### where the hashes can be any number. This would be a powerful feature to have and I think Apple should work on this more.

  • Dorian Markich

    Thanks for the useful tip!
    While I was trying to find a solution, I stumbled upon KrojamSoft BatchRename
    and thought it was very good. It’s highly effective and lets you rename
    multiple files in your directory at once. I found it was super helpful, especially
    if you work with photography, screencaptures, music files… etc