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Modern versions of Mac OS X include a built-in batch file renaming tool that allows Mac users to instantly rename large groups of files, folders, photos, or anything else on their file system with a single operation. This bulk renaming tool is part of the Finder, which means there are no add-ons, downloads, or DIY Automator tools to use, and the renaming feature is very powerful, yet extremely easy to use.
We are going to demonstrate how to rename a group of files on a Mac by matching a set of text and replacing it with another set of text. You will find that the basic renaming tool works much the same as other Find and Replace functions found in other applications, except that it is limited to the file or folder names of items you choose in the Mac OS Finder. You will also find options to add text to file names, or to completely format existing file names and replace them with new text.
How to Batch rename files on Mac with Mac OS X’s Rename Finder Item feature
- Select the files in the Mac OS Finder for which you want to change the batch name
- Right click (or Ctrl + click) the selected files and choose “Rename X Items” where X is the number of files selected
- Choose ‘Replace Text’ from the drop-down list in the ‘Rename Finder Items’ tool that appears (this is the default)
- Change the search ‘Find’ to match the string you want to replace, then adjust the ‘Replace with’ box to match the name of the files you want to rename the files to, the ‘Example:’ that displayed at the bottom of the Rename Finder Item window will show what the renamed files will look like
- Click “Rename” to rename all selected files immediately
The renaming is almost instant, but if you rename hundreds or thousands of selected files, it may take a while for the renaming process to complete as it takes place from file to file. When it is done, you can immediately see the results in the Finder, the file names will be changed to what you chose in the renaming utility.
The Rename Finder Items tool has three renaming options, the aforementioned search and replace text match, the ability to add text to file names, and finally the ability to completely rename the file name and change the file name format to anything sequential is. These options are selected from the drop-down menu of the rename tool panel, they are all equally easy to use.
The short video below demonstrates how to rename files in bulk by replacing existing text with new text, using this renaming utility in Mac OS X’s Finder:
Renaming batches is undeniably useful whether used to give many files more descriptive file names, or even to reduce long file names to shorter ones. There are tons of purposes for bulk renaming, and for those who make heavy use of the file system, you will likely find yourself using this feature very often.
The Rename Finder Items feature requires the Mac to be running MacOS / Mac OS X 10.10 or higher to have this feature available, earlier versions of Mac OS X can batch rename files by using this Automator tool instead. That Automator script continues to work in modern versions of OS X, just less of the need now that the Mac includes a native utility to perform bulk renaming functions.
Oh, and by the way, if you select a single item in the Finder and right-click, you’ll notice that the “Rename” feature is missing from the context menu. That’s because renaming a single file or folder is done through the item name itself, either by clicking the file name or pressing the Return key while the file or folder is selected.
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