3 Ways to Batch Rename Files in Windows

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Featured

With our growing collections of digital files, it’s a nightmare when you want to rename a bunch of files to make them easier to find. Naming dozens or hundreds of similar files one at a time takes forever. Luckily, there are several significantly easier ways to batch rename files in Windows to save time and headaches.

While I’ll include a few third-party tool suggestions at the end, you usually don’t need to install extra software. Instead, use the built-in tools in Windows.

Using File Explorer

Using File Explorer to batch rename files in Windows is usually the easiest way. To batch rename files, just select all the files you want to rename, press the F2 (alternatively, right-click and select rename), then enter the name you want on the first file. Press Enter to change the names for all other selected files.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Pictures

For example, I had a list of images that I wanted to change from the default date-naming convention to something simpler to read. In this case, January 2021. This method adds sequential numbers in parentheses beside each file name. This is a great way to keep similar files together, such as a project, photos from a trip, or anything else.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Pictures Renamed

It’s that easy to rename files using File Explorer, but this method is just basic and is not so flexible, e.g., you cannot change the file extensions (.html) and cannot restrict or change Windows from adding numbers, etc. For more advanced functions, we need to use the command prompt and Windows PowerShell.

Using the Command Prompt

If you want to batch rename only the extensions in Windows, the command prompt is a great tool. You can also rename files. Let’s first tackle changing extensions.

Originally, you could quickly access the command prompt option via the File menu in File Explorer, but Windows 10 eventually removed that option. There are still other ways to access command prompt.

1. Open command prompt by pressing Win + R, typing “cmd” and pressing OK.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Cmd

2. Once the command prompt window opens, you’ll need to change the directory to the folder where your files are located. You can type in the full path or open the folder in File Explorer. Right-click the path location above the file list and choose “Copy address.”

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Cmd File Path

You can then copy this into the command prompt. Before you type or copy anything, type cd and then the path location.

If you’re having trouble with copy and paste, you may need to change the settings to enable the copy and paste function in command prompt.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Cmd Cd

Enter the following command using the file extensions you want:

In my case, I’m changing the .jpg extension to .png. Please note this doesn’t actually change the file type, just the extension.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Cmd Cd Extensions

If you want to batch rename the file names, it’s a similar process. However, if the file names share numerous characters, you may get an error concerning duplicate files. To make sure this doesn’t happen, use wildcards, which are question marks, to keep a unique portion of the original name.

In my example, my files all start with 01. Some files share as many ten characters.

After changing the command prompt directory to the folder with your files, enter the following:

Enter as many ? as you need for the characters. If you want a space in your file name, place the file name in quotes, such as “???File Name.jpg.” If you want your new file name at the beginning, use the wildcards after the file name, such as FileName????. In my case, I’d use:

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Cmd Cd File Names

This method can be tricky. If all the files don’t have the same file name length originally, only part of the files will change.

Using Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is far more powerful than the regular command prompt and is also easy to use, though the two are somewhat similar. To batch rename files in Windows using PowerShell, you only need a few simple commands.

Open the folder where your files are located in File Explorer. Open File and choose “Open Windows PowerShell.”

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Powershell

Once PowerShell is open, use the below command. While using the command, don’t forget to change “TestName” to your desired file name and use the correct file extension.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Powershell Rename
3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Powershell Rename Close

The above command will take all the files in the directory and pass them to the Rename-Item command, which renames all the files to “TestName*.” Here * denotes numbers, and those numbers are allocated recursively using “$x.” This allows each file to have a unique name.

If you want to change the file extensions of all the files in a directory, use the below command.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Powershell Rename Extension

What the above command does is take all the files with the .jpg extension in a directory and changes them to .png.

3 Ways To Batch Rename Files In Windows Explorer Powershell Rename Extension Done

To know more about Rename-Item command, read the Microsoft documentation for more definitions and examples.

Which of the above three methods do your prefer?? Sure, PowerShell may be overwhelming for beginners, but it is fun to work with once you’ve gained some experience. You can even uninstall those pesky preinstalled apps.

Hopefully that helps, but do share your thoughts and other methods of manually batch-renaming files. You might also want to learn how to create symbolic links to files for quick access. Also, if you’re planning move files around in bulk in File Explorer, explore these easy ways to copy a large number of files quickly.

Crystal Crowder Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

9 comments

  1. I use “ReNamer”. It’s a nice program that one can add scripts and rules to, perfect for lots of substitutions at once.

  2. After years of trying, I have settled for Renamer. I think it is the best for Windows.

    http://www.den4b.com/?x=products&product=renamer

  3. @Ike Hall @Dave @Krish: those are some good renaming utilities, but using command prompt or powershell is just fun.

  4. Hello, i found this software which is really great for batch file rename in windows and it works really well. Its easy to use also. The software’s Name is KrojamSoft Batch Rename.

  5. Hopefully someone is still monitoring this thread. I have a problem that I’m hoping someone can assist with.

    I already have a group of photos labeled Jamaica 001, Jamaica 002, etc. – all the way through Jamaica 1598. When I imported the second group (I have four groups to import), it created a SEPARATE folder. I fully expected it to append and start with Jamaica 1599 – but it didn’t. So now I have TWO folders with photos that are redundant in name – i.e., two Jamaica 001 pics, two Jamaica 002 pics, etc.

    SURELY there’s a way to use the command prompt to rename them starting with a specific number, right? If I take the second import group (and subsequently the third and fourth), add them to a folder off the root of C (say, C:\Import), I’d like to think I could use the ren option to start at a specific number…in this case Jamaica 1599.

    Any assistance would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Mike – If they’re currently named as “Jamaica (001)” the easiest method would simply be to highlight each group in File Explorer, select the first file name of the group and enter the new name using the next number. So, to start with 1599, you’d highlight everything in that group, right-click to rename the first photo and call it “Jamaica (1599)”. Then, they’ll continue naming consecutively.

      It doesn’t come out so well using command prompt, but one of the suggested scripts here – https://stackoverflow.com/questions/42863483/command-prompt-batch-rename-multiple-files-with-sequential-numbering might help.

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