Need a fast yet powerful way to rename large groups of files in Windows 10? With Microsoft’s free PowerToys, all that power is just a right click away thanks to the PowerRename module. Here’s how to use it.
Install PowerToys and enable PowerRename
Before all these exciting renaming actions can begin, you must first download PowerToys from Microsoft̵
After installing PowerToys, launch PowerToys Settings and click “PowerRename” in the sidebar. Make sure the switch next to “Enable PowerRename” is turned on.
After that, close the PowerToys Settings window.
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Let the renaming begin
Now that PowerToys is installed, renaming a bunch of files is as easy as a right-click menu choice. First, find and select the files you want to rename in File Explorer or on the desktop.
Then right-click on the files and select “PowerRename” from the menu that appears.
The PowerRename window will open. This is where the magic happens.
First, enter the criteria that determine what will be renamed. By default, PowerRename works with simple search and replace functionality. Enter a search term in the first text box. On the next line, enter what you want to replace it with. PowerRename will replace the first instance (or any instance if you check a box) of that term in all the filenames you selected with the replacement text.
Here is an example where ‘P4’ has been replaced with ‘photo_’ in each file name. The nice thing is that PowerRename gives a preview of what the renamed files will look like right there in the window. That way you don’t have to guess what the result could be.
In the center of the window you will see other options that change how PowerRename works. Consider them all and put a check next to the one you want to use. This is what each option does:
- Use regular expressions: This allows for the use of powerful search strings known as regular expressions, which allow for very deep or complex find and replace operations.
- Case sensitive: This option makes searches sensitive, whether the letters are uppercase or lowercase. For example, the term ‘dog’ matches results other than ‘Dog’.
- Match all events: Normally only the first instance of the search term is replaced (from left to right). If checked, all occurrences of the search term will be replaced.
- Exclude files: When checked, the operation only applies to folders and not files.
- To exclude folders: If checked, the operation will only apply to files and not folders.
- To exclude subfolder entries: This excludes items in selected subfolders from renaming operations. For example, if you select a folder with files in subfolders, it has no effect.
- List items: This will add a number, counting up, to the end of each file that has been renamed.
- Item name only: When checked, the operation applies only to the name of the file or folder and not the extension.
- Item extension only: If checked, the operation applies only to the extension of the file or folder and not the name.
When you are done, click the “Rename” button, and PowerRename will perform the operation you specified.
If you don’t like the result, you can press Ctrl + Z in File Explorer to undo the renaming. Very handy!
A handy example: rename each file into something new
What if you don’t just want to replace a word in a file, but rather replace the full file name with something completely new? In that case you want a wildcard to match all the files you have selected. To do that, you must use a very simple regular expression, “. *”, Which means “everything”.
In this example, we will replace all selected file names with a base file name that is gradually numbered. First enter “. *” In the “Search for” field, then enter the name you want to use in the “Replace with” field. Then check ‘Use regular expressions’, ‘Inventory items’ and ‘Item name only’.
With all that checked, you will get a series of files of the same name that are numbered in order. When you are done setting, click “Rename” and the operation will be completed. Have fun renaming things!
RELATED: How to use standard regular expressions to improve your search and save time
Need more power and options? Try these other batch renaming tools for Windows.
RELATED: Batch renaming multiple files in Windows