RAW Computing


A free and flexible multi-file rename utility

There are often occasions where you end up with lots of files with obscure and meaningless filenames. For example, files downloaded from a digital camera or mobile phone, files downloaded from the web, and so on. It is very tedious renaming each file individually and giving them more descriptive filenames. Wouldn't it be much easier if there was a batch rename utility that could do the job for us and rename files sequentially, or based on the date or time? If you have always wanted such a tool then here's where to get a great multi-file rename utility for free.

There's no download link and no application to install. Instead, you are going to create it yourself. If you have never written a program before, don't worry because it is really easy and no programmng experince is necessary.

Run Automator in the Applications folder and when it asks you to choose a template, select Application. Make sure Actions is selected just under the toolbar on the left (click Show/Hide Library if necessary), and select Files and Folders in the first list. Select Rename Finder Items in the second list, then drag it to the large empty area on the right and drop it. You'll be asked whether you want to add a Copy Finder Items action. Click Don't Add. This is so that we work with the original files and not a copy of them.

You have now added an action to an Automator workflow. There's a little triangle next to the title to expand or shrink it. Make sure it's expanded and click Options at the bottom. Tick the option to Show this action when the workflow runs.

You'll see at the top of the workflow (the area on the right), that this application receives files and folders as input. The action we have added is to add date or time to Finder items. It looks like this:

Automator for OS X

Click Add Date or Time and select Make Sequential so that it now looks like this:

Automator for OS X

To finish off, click File, Save. Give your application a name and save it to the desktop. So how does it work? Just open a window containing the files you want to rename, select the files (Command+A will select all the files in a folder), then click and drag them to the application you created. A window pops up like the one in Automator and prompts you to choose the rename options. Just choose how you want to rename the files and click Continue. Your files are instantly renamed.

You have just written your very first application for OS X on the Apple Mac! It is a great utility that renames multiple files and features drag and drop file selection for ease of use.

It's brilliantly simple and it took seconds to create. Why not take another look at Automator and see what else you can do? It isn't that complicated when you get used to it and it is mostly a matter of stringing together reader-made modules, like the file rename action you used here.

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