Review of Free and Powerful Batch Renaming Software

Review of Free and Powerful Batch Renaming Software

14:22 24 November in Digital Research Tricks

Sometimes we need to rename our research images to suit new purposes. For example, I downloaded several dozen volumes of Canada’s House of Commons Debates for my doctoral research. Now, I’m using the same files for a  digitization and transcription project that will be live on the web in a few weeks. But i have a problem. The filenames that I initially used for the files have spaces that will create problems when they’re converted into URLs as well as other traits that will be confusing for my project team. Consequently I need to rename the files.

Renaming each file manually takes forever. Mass renaming, or more properly, “Batch” renaming is the solution. There are lots of powerful command line solutions available  for those who are comfortable with that sort of thing. If you’re not one of those people – fear not! Powerful and free software solutions abound.

The main problem for Windows users is over choiceRenamer has a fairly simple but powerful design. The interface is not entirely intuitive at first (below), but the program offers a helpful 1-page guide at launch that expedites the learning curve.  There is also a full user’s manual online. By clicking the “add” button, users can choose from a wide variety of filters including insert, delete, replace, rearrange, and change case. These changes can also be applied to sub-directories. Non-commercial users can install the Lite version for free and are unlikely to require the Pro version.

For OS X, NameChanger is very similar to Renamer, but boasts an even simpler interface. Users can input entire directories or specific files for renaming. The dropdown menu in the middle of the screen allows users to select from a variety of filters including replace first occurrence, append, prepend, change case, and date. NameChanger also has an image browser in case users need to be more selective. There is even a handy you-tube demonstration video.

Regardless of what program you choose, most users will want to remember to set the software to ignore file extensions. This is particularly important when removing characters from the end of filenames. With either of these batch renamers, your files will be ready to go in minutes.


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Dan Heidt

Dan obtained his history PhD from Western University in 2014, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Trent University. His studies led him to innovate new and efficient techniques to economize academic research. As a co-founder if WI he continues to hone photography, organizing and analyzing strategies for social science, humanities, and science researchers. Over the years, he worked or co-supervised half a dozen Research Assistants. His research to-date has taken him to over a dozen archives located across Canada, the United States and England.

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