macOS Hidden Treasures: Batch-Rename Items in the Finder

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It’s a cinch to rename a file or folder in the Finder. But renaming a group of them in a common way—appending a project name, fixing a repeated misspelling, or adding serial numbers? That, too, can be easy, with the Finder’s often-overlooked batch-renaming capability.

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Time stamps tend to differ. Your example with all files having an identical time stamp is not very realistic.

Is there a way to match any number or character in the find part to get rid of differing time stamps?

You’re probably thinking of the “date/time stamp” that identifies the creation or modification date of a file/folder, which, of course, usually differ, if only by seconds. But the example I used was regarding the date/time stamp applied from the Rename dialog, which puts the same date/time in the name of all the selected files; it uses the current date/time, which is unrelated to the creation/modified date stored internally for the items. I was showing how you can delete the time portion (which is unlikely to be of use) of that stamp.
And no, there’s no way to do any kind of wild-card search/replace with the quite basic Rename command. (Would that there were!)

I was interested to read the article: it came as a complete surprise to me that this feature existed in the Finder.

A more flexible way of renaming files, which allows use of regular expressions, is NameMangler, from ManyTricks ( It’s not free but it works very nicely. I have no connection with the company.


Another excellent software for these features is “A Better Finder Rename”

I agree, A Better Finder Rename is an awesome piece of software. I especially like it’s ability to create droplets for frequently used renaming schemes.

I used to use “A Better Finder Rename” frequently.

But since the batch-rename feature got added to the Finder, I haven’t used ABFR once. ABFR may be more powerful, but built-in functionality beats using a separate app any day.

ABFR is available via Right Click in the services menu. Highlight the files you want to rename, Right Click, select and you’re there. I’ve tried the built in finder rename and for all but simple things it pales in comparison. But then my needs are typically fairly complex and I love what I can do in ABFR (such as renaming audio files based on their Meta Data).

One way to do batch file renaming is to use the Unix command line utilities. With the various Unix command line utilities, you can find files based upon complex patterns in the name, use the date and time stamp, and move into multiple folders.

If you’re somewhat technically minded, it might be worth learning some basic Unix tools and Bash shell scripting. I find myself using it for some niggling task about two or three times per month.

Richard –
May I assume that you added ABFR to the Services menu yourself? It’s not there on mine.
(MacOS Sierra 10.12.6)
Tried adding AFBR using Automator, but couldn’t quite figure out the process.
Hints? Comments?

Some of us old-timers, i.e. pre-OS X, still have files without extensions. I just used this feature to rename a batch of such files to add an extension, and on every file I got a Finder prompt, “Are you sure you want to add the extension to the end of the name?” Options are only Don’t Add and Add. No Add for All. Not the best user experience. Besides this inconvenience, glad to know about this feature. More convenient than dropping into Terminal. Thanx for sharing! —Ken Nellis

The killer feature of ABFR is that you can actually provide a list of filenames and replacement names for them. I haven’t used this feature often but a few times it saved my bacon as I had to rename hundreds or even thousands of files.

Ufnortunately there don’t seem to be any recent updates.

ABFR has been updated 6 times in 2018, the latest being 30th May 2018.

You do need to activate it yourself, how to activate is in the help, but I copied it here for you…

In order for the “A Better Finder Rename 10” item to appear in the Finder context menu and in other appropriate contexts, you need to manually activate the service in the “Services Preferences…”.

Proceed as follows:

  1. go to the Finder
  2. open the “Finder” menu and navigate to “Services”, then to “Services Preferences…”
  3. in the “Services Preferences…” application, tick the “A Better Finder Rename 10…” checkbox (in the “General” section) to activate the service
  4. optionally use the application to define a hot key (such as Command-Shift-R) for the service

The service should now appear in the Finder’s context menu.

If it does not, or if the item does not appear in the list, there’s a few things to check:

  • the “A Better Finder Rename 10” application needs to be in the “Applications” folder
  • you may need to launch A Better Finder Rename by double clicking it once
  • you may need to click on the “Force Services Menu Update” button in the “Services Menu Item” tab of the A Better Finder Rename 10 Preferences to force an update of Mac OS X’s services database.
  • you may need to log in and out (or restart) for the service to become available

These things might be necessary as Mac OS X checks all applications in the “Applications” and in the “Utilities” folders at start up to find out which applications define system services.

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I’m with Ken here, in that I have a HUGE number of old Appleworks files with no extension, and would like to add LibreOffice’s .odt extension. Trouble is, they are grouped with many other files of different creator types.

Does anyone know of any similar software with batch-renaming capabilities, that will search for files by hidden creator type and then add a file extension, either one associated with the file creator, or a different user specified .xtn?

Sadly, I have no Terminal abilities.

I’ve got a few old ClarisCad files that I’d like to add .xtns to and then try to crack open.

I don’t ask for much. :-))

If you use the command line and vim, look for vimv. There are a few versions, but they’re all basically little shell scripts that generate a list of filenames, drop you into vim editing a buffer containing those filenames, and then rename the files with the new names when you exit. This gives you the full power of vim (and any other command line program being vim can run them on the contents of a buffer) to modify the names, which easily eclipses what you can do with ABFR. Of course you have to have a little familiarity with bash and the more the better with vim, but if you do, it’s a great way to batch rename files.

Aha. I just hadn’t scrolled down far enough in Services Preferences to see “General”. ABFR (all the versions I’ve purchased!) was there. Ticked the box. All good. Thanks!

vim is my favorite program editor. I’ve been using vi for some forty some odd years. I’ve amazed other developers with how fast I can manipulate files and make massive changes.

An easy way to load up and manipulate file names in vi? You’ve got my attention.

Could you please explain a little what vim lets you do that ABFR doesn’t?

Thank you,


@ Ken Nellis: You can turn off the prompt in Finder Preferences>Advanced. It’s the second item on the menu, Show warning before changing an extension. Uncheck it and you won’t be bothered with that prompt again.