You can batch rename files on macOS in a few different ways. Professional photographers and music lovers especially will appreciate the ability to quickly rename a pile of files at once.
If you haven’t done any batch renaming before, it might help to understand how it works. Essentially, the user writes a small program that tells the renaming utility to how to handle different files. This can be extremely simple, or outrageously complicated: it just depends on your needs.
We can batch rename files on macOS in a few ways: through some basic built-in tools, and some more complicated third-party applications.
Method 1: Finder’s Batch Rename Tool
macOS’s Finder actually includes a built-in tool for renaming a group of files. It’s easy to use, if a little limited. You can still take advantage of it if you don’t need anything too complicated.
1. Locate a group of files you want to batch rename in Finder.
2. Select all the files you want to batch rename. You can select a range of files by holding Shift while you click, or select multiple separate files by holding Command while you click.
3. Right-click (or Command-click) on the selected files and choose “Rename [x] Items…” from the context menu.
4. A context window will slide in over the top of your file selection. This is the pane that you’ll use to set up rules to rename your files.
5. In this case, I don’t want to replace specific text in my files. I want to completely rename them and use a sequence number. To get to that option, I’ll click the dropdown menu that says “Replace Text” and select “Format.”
6. By default, the Format menu will batch rename my files using the format “File1.” That’s not really want I want, so I’ll modify that.
7. Click in the “Custom Format” field and type in any name you like. This will used as the text string before any numbers are added. If you want to see a dash or space between Custom Format string and the sequence number, make sure to include it at the end of the Custom Format field.
8. Before your finalize your filenames, take a look at the example below the Custom Format box and make sure everything looks good.
9. When you’re finished, click the “Rename” button.
10. Now all my files will be quickly renamed to match my new formatting style.
11. If you need to add more files to your list, you can do that too. Proceed as normal, but make sure to change the number in the “Start numbers at” dialog box to the correct numeral. In this case, I’ve entered 12, since my last file was number 11.
Method 2: Better Rename
If you need a more powerful renaming scheme, Better Rename should do everything you need and more. It’s a powerful file renaming utility that includes a ton of options. You can purchase it from the Mac App Store.
1. After downloading, open Better Rename from the Applications folder. You’ll see a window with several panes.
The pane on the right is where you’ll put the files you want to rename. The pane on the left controls how those files will be renamed.
2. First, I’ll drag the files I want to rename into the pane on the right side of the window.
3. Now I can set how I’d like to rename these files in the right-hand pane.
Our default view will allow us to rename files with sequence numbers, which is a good way to start. First, though, let’s change the default prefix of “Image_” to something more helpful.
Again, I’ll put a dash at the end so that my file name and sequence number will be separated by a dash.
3. After I’ve formatted my file naming, I can see an example of all my renamed files in the right-hand window.
4. When I’m ready to rename all my files, I’ll click the “Perform Renames” button in the lower right.
5. Better Rename will ask for confirmation to rename files individually. You can also click the “Rename All” button, or press Command-R, to confirm all files at once.
6. Now my files are renamed!
Advanced Batch Renaming
Better Rename is much more powerful that the previous example might suggest. In addition to sequence numbers, you can also find and replace text, add arbitrary text, and rename based on regular expressions. There’s too much to cover in one place, but let’s take a look at one of the more useful advanced features.
1. To access the other renaming modes, click on the “Category” dropdown in the upper-left of the window, which currently says “Sequence Numbers.”
2. A menu will appear that describes the various ways files can be renamed. Now select “Characters” for this round.
3. Under the “Action” menu, you’ll notice the menu item has been changed to “Replace specific characters.” This action will remove specific characters as specified by the user.
4. In the first box that says “list of characters to replace,” I’ll enter a period. I want to replace that period with a hyphen, so I’ll enter a hyphen in the “With” next box.
5. In the preview window, I’ll see what my first change will look like.
6. I also want to replace my spaces with hyphens, so in the next text box, I’ll enter a space and then a hyphen.
7. When I execute the batch rename, all the periods and spaces in my files will be replaced with hyphens. None of the other characters will be changed.