Renaming your files on Mac

Prior to OS X Yosemite, there was no simple way to rename multiple files at the same time on the Mac. Some people set up Automator rules. Others tried workarounds to rename files in third-party apps. Finally, Apple realized our heartache and created a much simpler way to rename multiple files at once, and it's only gotten easier as macOS updates continue. Here's how to batch-rename files on your Mac.

How to batch-rename files on Mac

I personally batch-rename photos most often, but it works for any files you have. They just have to be the same type in order to be renamed all at once.

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
  2. Locate the files you want to rename.
  3. Shift-click to select multiple files.
  4. Click on the Action button at the top of the Finder window. You can also right or control + click on the files.

    Launch Finder, then select your files and right or control+click on them

  5. Select Rename [X number] Items.
  6. Select Format from the drop down menu at the top of the set of rename tools.

    Click on Rename files, then click on Format

  7. Select a Name format for the style of format you want. You can choose from Name and Index, Name and Counter, or Name and Date.
  8. Enter a name for your files into Custom Format.

    Click on Name Format, then enter a new name

  9. Enter a Starting number. I chose the number 1, but you can start with any number.
  10. Click on Rename.

    Select a starting number, then click Rename

All of the files you selected will be renamed with the new name and listed sequentially from the starting number you entered.

How to add text to currently named files on Mac

If you have a number of files that you want to identify but want to keep their current names, you can add text to every file without changing the original title.

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
  2. Locate the files you want to rename.
  3. Shift-click to select multiple files.
  4. Click on the Action button at the top of the Finder window. You can also right or control + click on the files.

    Launch Finder, then select your files and right or control+click on them

  5. Select Rename [X number] Items.
  6. Select Add Text from the drop down menu at the top of the set of rename tools.

    Click on Rename items, then click Add Text

  7. Enter the word or words you want to add to the files.
  8. Select whether you want the new wording to be added before or after the current name.
  9. Click on Rename.

    Enter the words you want to add, then choose whether to put it before or after, then click Rename

All of the files you selected will have the new words added to them, without changing their original title.

How to search and replace certain words in the name of specific files on Mac

Sometimes, you want to change the name of just a few files, but it's one of dozens of files with different names and may be difficult to search for. You can find and replace portions or all of the name of files if you have a general idea of the original. For example, you could find and replace the wording in the name of every file that has "secret project" in it.

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
  2. Open the folder where the files you want to change are stored.
  3. Shift-click on all files in the folder. Remember, in order to rename multiple files, they must be the same type.
  4. Click on the Action button at the top of the Finder window. You can also right or control + click on the files.

    Launch Finder, then select your files and right or control+click on them

  5. Select Rename [X number] Items.
  6. Select Replace Text from the drop down menu at the top of the set of rename tools.

    Click on Rename items, then click on Replace Text

  7. Enter the word or words you want to change in the file names.
  8. Enter the word or words you want to replace them with in the file names.
  9. Click on Rename

    Enter the word you want to change, then enter the word you want to replace it with, then click Rename

Every file that had the original word or words you searched for will be replaced with the word or words you entered to change them to.

How to undo a batch-rename of files on Mac

It's incredibly easy to undo a file rename, as long as it's the last action you performed in the finder window.

  1. With Finder selected, click on Edit in the app menu at the top left corner of the screen.
  2. Click on Undo Rename.
  3. If it doesn't say Undo Rename, try hitting Undo a couple of times. This will undo any actions you've performed in Finder after renaming the files.

    Click on Edit, then click Undo Rename

You can also hit Command-Z as a keyboard shortcut to undo.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about renaming multiple files at once on the Mac? Put them in the comments and we'll help you out.

macOS High Sierra

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macOS Sierra