I enjoy taking digital pictures, but the part that I don’t like is copying them over to the computer. The file names are always such a mess, and are typically along the lines of DSC000022.JPG which doesn’t help at all when trying to identify a photo. One of the first things that I do after transferring the photos over to the computer is rename them in bulk. After all, when you get back from a vacation you don’t want to rename hundreds of photos one at a time.
There are all kinds of different ways that you can do this on both a Windows or Mac computer. Both operating systems have ways to batch rename files, such as the F2 key in Windows or Automator on a Mac, but there are free apps out there that can make the task as simple as pointing and clicking. So today we’re going to show you four bulk file renaming programs (2 for Windows and 2 for Mac) that are all free, but pack some powerful features.
One thing I noticed when searching around for file renaming tools on a Mac was that there weren’t an abundance of free solutions available. The paid versions greatly overshadowed any of the free apps, and that is disappointing considering how nice some of the free ones actually are.
–ReNamer (Homepage / Full Review)–
This is definitely my favorite renaming utility on Windows. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case considering the variety of free bulk renaming tools, but it has a sense of simplicity that I haven’t found in any other app. Maybe the fact that you can download a no-install version is what appeals the most to me, because I’m able to keep it on my USB drive for quick use.
Just don’t let the interface deceive you! On the outside it may look overly simple, but it has a wide variety of options for renaming files. If you really want to live on the edge you can use Regular Expressions or Pascal scripts to really customize how the files are renamed, but most users will probably never have to take it that far.
–Name Mangler (Homepage)–
This tiny little app really takes the cake when it comes to bulk file renaming on a Mac. It has a slick and simple interface that shines well above any of the other file renaming programs that I’ve come across (even compared to those on Windows). The interface really threw me for a curve ball at first because I didn’t think there were many ways you could rename files in bulk, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Name Mangler supports Regular Expressions which is often a requirement for any renamer, but it even includes it’s own Name Conversion Description Language (NCDL). That’s a custom scripting language that any programmer will be able to pick up in seconds, and gives you the opportunity to create outrageously complex file renaming conditions if that’s what you need.
To make things even easier Name Mangler lets you create Droplets, which saves your renaming rules to a file. Then you can drag and drop files onto a Droplet to have them renamed accordingly.
–Flexible Renamer (Homepage / Full Review)–
This is a slightly more complex file renamer for Windows, but one of the nice things is that it does include a live preview feature. With that you’ll be able to see what the resulting file names will look like as you make the changes, which can save some time in the long run.
At times the interface can feel a little cluttered, but I’m guessing that is due to the built-in file explorer which makes it a bit easier to navigate for the files you want to work with. Things can really start to get messy if you switch to the advanced interface, which adds even more configuration and customizability options. If you’re looking for sheer power and live previews, this is the Windows file renamer for you.
This was the first free file renamer that I had come across for a Mac, and I was pretty excited to try it out. The interface is a little oversized, and I’m not so sure that all of the fields need to be displayed at all times. Granted some of the advanced features are tucked away at the bottom, and will slide out when needed.
Renaming the files seemed a little bit clunky, and all I was trying to do was numerically order them by adding an incremental number onto the end of the filename. The reason why I had such a problem was that the “Numbering” option was disabled until I enabled the “Suffix” option, which took me a minute to realize since they aren’t located next to each other. It might not be the most intuitive, but I was still able to get the job done.
In the end my two favorite file renaming tools are ReNamer and Name Mangler, depending on which operating system I am using. Now I’d love to hear what you use to bulk rename your files!