Mac Mastery Series: Rename Multiple Items at Once

Updated November 1st, 2022.

Second in a series of Mac Mastery articles, demonstrating the best tips and handiest features of the Mac and its apps. Learn these features and everything goes better. Read them all!

Do you have a bunch of files with names like “IMG 245.JPG” or “Screen Shot 2020-02-29 at 9.30.13 AM”? Would you like to give those files better names, but there are too many of them to deal with? Here’s how you rename multiple files at once, quickly and easily, using a feature built into the Mac’s Finder.

Here are the steps, and an example.

Renaming items (step by step)

  1. Select the items you want to rename
  2. Choose “Rename Items…” from the Finder’s File menu
  3. Make some choices in the box that appears
  4. Click the Rename button.

Renaming Items (example)

Here we have a folder with several iPhone screenshots. They all have default names like “IMG_0014.png.” Not descriptive at all.

Screenshot showing images with default names (IMG_0014.jpg for example).
These files could use better, more descriptive names.

Renaming them one by one would be tedious. But we know what to do: select the items (Edit/Select All or Command-A), and then File/Rename Items…).

Renaming 15 items at once
Renaming 15 items at once

Nice touch: the menu shows how many items you’re about to rename. Here, it’s “Rename 15 Items…”

Now you’ll see a box like this. Note the “Cancel” button: you can bail out if you want to.

Renaming Finder Items dialog box.
Renaming Finder Items dialog box

“Replace Text” is a search and replace on the file names. In this example, we might change “IMG” to “iPhone_Screenshot.” But there are other options, and that’s a good thing, because we also want to renumber the files (that is, we don’t want to have the first one be 0014).

Rename Finder Items options
Rename Finder Items options

For us, the right choice is “Format.” Choose that and you see this:

Rename Finder Items, "Format" options
Rename Finder Items, “Format” options

You can choose various formats, and if you’re numbering your files you can set a starting number. Tip: if you want to have leading zeroes choose “Name and Counter” rather than “Name and Index.”

Notice that you can see how your filename is going to look, in the lower left-hand corner of the box. This is really handy. There are a lot of ways to rename a file and the preview lets you get it right before you commit to clicking “Rename.”

When you’re happy with your choices, click the Rename button and see the results.

Fifteen items, renamed all at once.
Fifteen items renamed and renumbered, all at once.

Hopefully, you like what you see. If not, you can select the items again, and go to File/Rename Items… again, and give it another shot. (You can also go to the Edit menu and choose “Undo Rename” if you’d rather just go back to how things were.)

Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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