Batch Renaming Files in Mac Finder

You can rename multiple files easily in macOS High Sierra and other recent versions of macOS. The option to do so only appears when you have selected multiple files. You can choose to simply replace text in all filenames. Yo can also add text to the beginning or end of a filename. You can also set up formatted names, such as numbering groups of files.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Batch Renaming Files in Mac Finder.

It's been awhile since I've talked about the Batch Renaming tool in the Finder on the Mac. I still get a lot of questions about this. It's probably because for years there wasn't such a tool. You had to use more advanced techniques to rename bunches of files at a time. It was added several years ago and people still have old information or look up old pages that say you can't do this on the Mac. You actually can do it and it's pretty easy.

If you try to find a way to rename lots of files by looking through the menu items you're not going to find it because you need to select multiple files for it to appear. Under File you've got Rename. If I select a single file you can see I can rename that file. If I select multiple files, I'm going to use the Shift key to select all of these, if I go and I look there you can see that changes to Rename 6 Items. So that's where it's hiding.There is no menu item that's always there that always say Batch Rename of something like that.

So let me select that and it brings up this little tool here. There are several different things that I can do with that. I can Replace Text, Add Text, or Format. So the simplest thing to do is Replace Text. So in this case every file name has the word project in it. So I'm going to, you know it's called ProjectA, maybe I want tp add a space to that. So I'll have it search for ProjectA and I'm going to replace it with Project space A. It's going to give me an example here. So it's going to pick one of the files out, the first one that it finds that actually will change, and shows you what it looks like. So it's going to add that space there.

I'll hit Rename and it's going to rename all the files. So you can see that it added that space there between project and A. I could have renamed it something completely different like Work A, or Project Alpha, or something like that. So it's pretty easy to rename things.

One of the cool things is, is it doesn't rename files that don't have that in it. So, for instance, here if I duplicate this file I have this one here called notes2. So I have notes and notes2. If I select all of these with Command A and I say rename 7 files but I want you to replace the text notes with something else, info. I hit Rename and it only renamed those two files because it didn't find that in any of the other ones. So that's handy to know.

The other thing you can do, is you can instead of replacing text you can Add Text. So you can say I want to add some text to the beginning. So I'll add like AAA space before it or I can add after the name, hit Rename, and it puts it all there. If I make a mistake it's easy to use Undo to undo them all. But I can also go and just do another rename. So I can say well, I don't want that. I don't want AAA space before the name. I can replace AAA space with nothing and it will take all that away.

Now your options are Format. With Format you can do all sorts of things. For instance you can add, you know, Name and Index, Name and Counter, Name and Date. So I can take all all these and say Name and Index. I want it to be before the name. I'll just say File and start the numbers at 1. You can see it's going to go and put a number and then the name that I gave, file, and rename all the files like that. It's handy if you have, say, an entire set of photos and you just want to get rid of the names because they don't mean anything and you just want them numbered, you know, one through whatever. So you could do that pretty easily. I would do, after name, and then it would be called like Photo 1. You can see photo 1 through 7.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Batch Renaming Files in Mac Finder”

    12 months ago

    Oh man! How I wish I had known this eons ago. Thanks again to making life easier.

    Carl Jobs
    12 months ago


    Did not know that and I’m a Mac veteran.

    Well done video — clear, informative, excellent narration, and covered key aspects.

    12 months ago

    Gary, is there a way to control the leading zeros. I think I doing this correctly but I end up with 00001 etc. Otherwise this is a great tutorial.

    12 months ago

    Steve: Sounds like you are using “counter.” Instead use the “index” option so you don’t have leading zeroes.

    Joe Juliano
    12 months ago

    Finally a way to organize my song lists for different sets and gigs. Thanks Gary

Comments Closed.