How do I easily rename multiple files using command line?

  • One of the ways I quickly rename files in Windows is

    F2 > Rename > Tab (to next file) > Rename ...

    But in Ubuntu/Nautilus, I can't tab to next file. But being on Linux, I think there must be a command line alternative.

    However, sometimes, I may want more control over how to rename specific files. In that case, perhaps its better to be able to tab to the next file

    Could you define "more control"? Not sure what you're asking exactly..

    I think this question is not answered. What you are asking for (F2 and then jump in F2 mode to the next file) is currently not available I think in Nautilus.

  • Matt

    Matt Correct answer

    9 years ago

    I use rename all the time. It is pretty simple, but hopefully you know basic regex:

    rename "s/SEARCH/REPLACE/g"  *

    This will replace the string SEARCH with REPLACE in every file (that is, *). The /g means global, so if you had a SEARCH_SEARCH.jpg, it would be renamed REPLACE_REPLACE.jpg. If you didn't have /g, it would have only done substitution once, and thus now named REPLACE_SEARCH.jpg. If you want case-insensitive, add /i (that would be, /gi or /ig at the end).

    With regular expressions, you can do lots more.

    Note that this rename is the prename (aka Perl rename) command, which supports complete Perl regular expressions. There is another rename which uses patterns, and is not as powerful. prename used to be installed by default on Ubuntu (along with Perl), but now you may have to do:

    sudo apt install rename

    Here are a few examples:



    rename 's/^/MyPrefix_/' * 
    • document.pdf renamed to MyPrefix_document.pdf


    Also you can remove unwanted strings. Let's say you had 20 MP3 files named like CD RIP 01 Song.mp3 and you wanted to remove the "CD RIP" part, and you wanted to remove that from all of them with one command.

    rename 's/^CD RIP //' *
    • CD RIP 01 Song.mp3 to 01 Song.mp3

    Notice the extra space in '^CD RIP ', without the space all files would have a space as the first character of the file. Also note, this will work without the ^ character, but would match CD RIP  in any part of the filename. The ^ guarantees it only removes the characters if they are the beginning of the file.



    rename 's/$/_MySuffix/' *
    • document.pdf renamed to document.pdf_MySuffix


    rename 's/\.pdf$/.doc/' *

    will change Something.pdf into Something.doc. (The reason for the backslash is, . is a wildcard character in regexp so .pdf matches qPDF whereas \.pdf only matches the exact string .pdf. Also very important to note, if you are not familiar with BASH, you must put backslashes in SINGLE quotes! You may not omit quotes or use double quotes, or bash will try to translate them. To bash \. and "\." equals .. (But double-quotes and backslashes are used, for example "\n" for a newline, but since "\." isn't a valid back escape sequence, it translates into .)

    Actually, you can even enclose the parts of the string in quotes instead of the whole: 's/Search/Replace/g' is the same as s/'Search'/'Replace'/g and s/Search/Replace/g to BASH. You just have to be careful about special characters (and spaces).

    I suggest using the -n option when you are not positive you have the correct regular expressions. It shows what would be renamed, then exits without doing it. For example:

    rename -n s/'One'/'Two'/g *

    This will list all changes it would have made, had you not put the -n flag there. If it looks good, press Up to go back, then erase the -n and press Enter (or replace it with -v to output all changes it makes).

    Note: Ubuntu versions above 17.04 don't ship with rename by default, however it's still available in the repositories. Use sudo apt install rename to install it

    How will I have a "dynamic" suffix. Like 001 - 010 etc. Possible?

    Hmm.. I tried to write something up but it didn't work. Mostly because, when I add 1 to 001, it adds to 2, not 002. Otherwise, I could just use varaibles to hold the number position, then append it. Also, I just remembered, before I knew about the `rename` commmand, this is what I did to append: `for f in *; do mv -v "$f" "prependThis$f"; done`

    @jiewmeng Yes. Use `(?:\.0-9.

    @sergio91pt it is a nice regex cheat sheet. But what it is about? Must be perl - but a can't find such a note there.

    @Adobe Its a general one for "perl based regex". Look at the note about the + sign and the column about POSIX Character Classes.

    @Sergiy Perhaps one more very useful case to be added into your answer: **Insert after** `rename -n 's/Matched_string/$&Inserted_string/' *` *For example, if we need to insert a _STRING after the YYYY-MM-DD date pattern in the beginning of files or directories:* `rename -n 's/^[0-9]{4}-[0-9]{2}-[0-9]{2}/$&_STRING/' *`

  • Try pyrenamer.

    It's not integrated with nautilus, but it gets the job done. Here is a review.

    Thunar (part of XFCE) also has a renamer that you can run separately.

    Thunar bulk renamer

    thanks for mentioning Thunar functionality. If you have Thunar - select files in folder and press F2.

  • There seems to be a project on launchpad called nautilus-renamer. You can install it by running make install once you download the script and untar it. It seems to have some functionalities or if you do know some programming may be you could just enhance it to your need as it is just a python script.

    enter image description here

  • In the command line, to rename a single file the command is simply

    mv file1.txt file2.txt

    If you want to do it in batch, you'll probably want to do it via a script. If you provide more details I or someone else can probably whip one up for you. That said, a script to append stuff to a file might look like this:

    for file in *
        # separate the file name from its extension
        if [[ $file == *.* ]]; then
          mv "$file" "${fname}_APPENDSTUFFHERE.$ext"
          mv "$file" "${file}_APPENDSTUFFHERE"

    Depending on exactly how you need things renamed this will likely be tweaked, for instance if you have specific renaming rules to follow. (Personally I'd do this via a Perl script since my bash-foo is not that great, but that's just me.)

    Note that I got the separation of filename and extension from a previously asked question.

  • In case you want to do it without command line, similarly to what you have been doing in Windows, use right arrow key instead of tab key. This will select the next file just as tab does in Windows.

    It is not the same: you would still need ENTER to finish renaming, arrow key to move to the next file, and F2 to rename it. TAB does it in 1 step once you are renaming a file.

    @MestreLion But it's very similar to algorithm described in the question and does not require neither any additional software nor command-line operations. Sort of being user-friendly.

    True, you were the only answer that at least *tried* the same approach as the original question. And the sad truth is that Nautilus has no such functionality. You can F2 to rename, but thats it. No TAB to automatically jump you to next file in rename mode already.

  • Not really the same question as How can rename many files at once? but I'm going to suggest the same program that I suggested in that answer: qmv.

    qmv is a handy tool from the renameutils package. It enables you to use your favorite text editor to rename files. Combined with the power of vim, you have an excellent renaming utility.

    I usually invoke it like qmv -f do in the dir where I want to rename a bunch of files. Or if I want to rename recursively qmv -R -f do.

    Whenever I have the need to rename multiple files, I always fall back on qmv (and vim).

    I just tried this based on your suggestion. This is really the most awesome tool if you use vim!

  • If the only suitable option is renaming the files manually, a great way to do that is using vidir (in the moreutils package):

    sudo add-apt-repository universe && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install moreutils
           vidir allows editing of the contents of a directory in a text editor.
           If no directory is specified, the current directory is edited.
           When editing a directory, each item in the directory will appear on
           its own numbered line. These numbers are how vidir keeps track of what
           items are changed. Delete lines to remove files from the directory, or
           edit filenames to rename files. You can also switch pairs of numbers
           to swap filenames.
           Note that if "-" is specified as the directory to edit, it reads a
           list of filenames from stdin and displays those for editing.
           Alternatively, a list of files can be specified on the command line.


    Renaming files selectively

    Current working directory's content:

    ├── bar
    ├── baz
    └── foo

    Run vidir, rename the filenames in the lines containing the filenames you wish to rename; hit CTRL+O and CTRL+X:


    ├── bar.bak
    ├── baz.old

    Switching filenames selectively

    Current working directory's content:

    ├── bar
    ├── baz
    └── foo

    Current working directory's files' content:

    $ for f in *; do printf '- %s:\n\n' "$f"; cat "$f"; echo; done
    - bar:
    This is bar
    - baz:
    This is baz
    - foo:
    This is foo

    Run vidir, switch the numbers in the lines containing the filenames you wish to switch; hit CTRL+O and CTRL+X:


    ├── bar
    ├── baz
    └── foo
    $ for f in *; do printf '- %s:\n\n' "$f"; cat "$f"; echo; done
    - bar:
    This is foo
    - baz:
    This is bar
    - foo:
    This is baz

    Removing files selectively

    Current working directory's content:

    ├── bar
    ├── baz
    └── foo

    Run vidir, remove the lines containing the files you wish to delete; hit CTRL+O and CTRL+X:


    └── baz
  • I'm using krename. It is a GUI app. It could read mp3 tags and so on.

    It exists as a separate app as well as a part of Krusader.

    There's also a rename script - which is a part of standard perl installation (You probably have it installed). Check it out with man rename.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM