One of the most powerful file managers in Linux, Thunar is simple to use and provides all the essential tools a user needs to manage their files. Among them is a quite powerful renaming tool. Thunar Bulk Rename specializes, as its name suggests, in renaming groups of files and allows doing it in different ways. You can replace parts of a filenames and add numbers or dates. In other words, it’s one of the best aids for those who work most of every day with large sets of files and often need to modify their names.
If your Linux distribution doesn’t come with Thunar, it can be easily found in your distribution’s App Store / Software Center. If you prefer the terminal, for distributions based on Debian / Ubuntu, you can install it with the command:
The Bulk Rename tool is part of Thunar and cannot be installed separately. Find it and run it from “Main Menu -> Accessories -> Bulk Rename.”
Click on the first of its buttons with the “+” sign to select the files you want to modify. Note that you can repeat the process as many times as you like. For example, by adding files that “reside” in different paths to add more entries-to-be-renamed to the application’s list.
Type of renaming
Notice the pulldown menu at the bottom left of the list. From this, you can choose between different types of file renaming. Those allow actions like modifying part of the files’ names or adding a date.
Depending on what you choose in this menu, the rest of the available options will change accordingly.
Although each type of renaming may come with different parameters, they share some options between them. Among them, the way you specify “the location” of anything you add to a filename.
This is defined by the “From the …” (front / back) and “At position” (+/-) options. The default values “At position: 0” and “From the front (left)” specify that in the case of a date, it will be placed “in front” of the existing filename. If the second option were changed to “From the back (right),” the date would be placed at the end of each filename. “At position” allows you to “move” the new item, in this case the date, by a specific number of letters, counting from either the left or right as defined by the other available option. For example, placing the date after the second letter of each name or five letters before its end.
Time and date
The “Format” field doesn’t have to contain only specific codes that the application recognizes (e.g., “% d% m% Y” for the day-month-year of a date). You can type whatever you want in it, and it will be included with the codes in the filename.
In this image you can see that we have inserted two underscores before the date so that it’s not displayed right next to the original name of each file, rendering the result more readable.
Thunar’s Bulk Rename allows you to add numbering to the selected set of files and provides different options and parameters for how to accomplish this. You can choose between different types of numbering, whether to keep the existing name or replace everything with the new numbers, specify how many digits to include (e.g., 1-2-3 or 01-02-03), and add some custom text next to them.
A handy feature – but be careful how you use it – allows the deletion of characters. Selecting “Remove Characters” will enable you to set a “character range for deletion” out of the existing filenames. “Remove from Position” sets the starting point and “To Position” the end of that range.
Be sure to check out the preview in the New Name list to be sure the results will be what you want since it’s easy to delete the entire filenames and be left with a bunch of unrecognizable files.
Equally useful is the ability to replace a set of characters, accessible through “Search & Replace.” In “Search For:” you set the string of characters you want to replace, and in “Replace With:” what you want to replace the characters with.
As you can see in the image, we replaced the word “screenshot” in our original filenames with “MakeTechEasier.”
These are the basics – we don’t think we need to go on with separate extended descriptions of how, exactly, each type of renaming works in Thunar Bulk Rename, since they all follow the same logic more or less. Experiment with them yourself, but make sure to always check out the preview before committing to any changes. And it’s probably also a good idea to have a backup of everything available – or, at least, the files you decide “to play with.”