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Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Need to rename a large number of files in Windows? Although File Explorer can help, the PowerToys PowerRename tool or a third-party software will provide more alternatives.

Here’s the problem: You’re stuck with dozens (or hundreds) of files on Windows with strange names. This usually happens when photographs are taken on a smartphone and then transmitted to your computer, resulting in names like IMG1001 or Screenshot_20240517-133223. You’ll want to rename all of these files so that their names make sense, but you probably don’t want to waste the time required to do so one by one.

Windows allows you to rename many files at once, assigning each one a sequential number to keep things organized. This option isn’t bad, but you can do even more with the Microsoft PowerToys PowerRename tool, which allows you to add dates and times to filenames using variables.

You can also use third-party utilities to achieve more powerful results. These tools can handle hundreds or thousands of files and alter the filename or extension to whatever you specify. You can even preview the rename and undo it if something doesn’t look correct.

Rename in the File Explorer.

To rename several files in File Explorer, first select the files you want to rename, then hit the F2 key. The name of the final file is highlighted. Type the new name for each file, then click Enter. All of the files you chose are given the same name, but with a number in parenthesis to make each one unique.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

If you change your mind about the new name, press Ctrl + Z to undo your action, and your files will be returned to their original names. If you want to rename other files in this way, select them, press F2, and then input the new name. To avoid conflicts with duplicate names, the new files are assigned sequential numbers that begin where the original files ended.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Rename with PowerToys PowerRename.

However, PowerRename has more capabilities. If PowerToys is not already installed on your computer, download and install the PowerToysSetup.exe file from the program’s GitHub page or from the Microsoft Store. To access the PowerToys Settings window, double-click the System Tray icon and select PowerRename.

Make sure the switch for Enable PowerRename is turned on. Open the Show PowerRename drop-down menu and select Default and Extended Context Menu. This adds PowerRename to Windows’ context menu. Leave the box marked Hide icon in context menu unchecked.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Make sure that Enable auto-complete is turned on for the search and replace fields in order to get name suggestions while looking for and replacing existing filenames. To specify the maximum amount of ideas you will receive, use the field below. If you’re not sure, stick with the default setting of 10.

To view the most recent strings used for a search and replace, turn on Show recently used strings. To utilize the Boost library, turn it on at the bottom of the options page if you believe you’ll require more than simply the regular expressions used for search and replace.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Now, when you need to rename numerous files, launch File Explorer and choose the files you wish to modify. Right-click the selection and select the PowerRename option from the pop-up menu.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

In PowerRename’s right pane, confirm the files you want to rename and tick each one. Check the box labeled Use regular expressions. Then, set up your search and replace strings.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Let’s name our photographs IMG_xxxx, with the xxxx signifying a sequential number for each file. Type “IMG_” into the Search area. In PowerRename, a period is utilized as a variable to represent one character. So you’d enter four dots after the IMG_, like IMG_…., and leave the extension alone.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

Click the “Enumerate Items” button, located above the “Apply” button, to add sequential numbers in parentheses to the end of the filename. In our example, this would appear as New York Yankee Game (1), New York Yankee Game (2), and so on.

Save time: How to rename multiple files at once on Windows.

However, PowerToys really excels when integrating variables. Perhaps you could note the date each shot was taken. To add variables, use the $ sign, followed by the letter M for month, D for day, and Y for year. The exact format of the letter depends on how many times it is used.

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