How to rename multiple files in Windows with PowerRename

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You have a large collection of files on your computer that you want to rename all in one take, all according to a certain pattern. Windows allows you to rename multiple files by applying the same name followed by sequential numbers. But to add more punch to renaming your file, Microsoft offers a PowerToys tool called PowerRename.

Accessed from the right-click context menu in File Explorer, the PowerRename command can rename files through the use of variables. Simply select the files you want to rename and run the command and then choose the file name string and variables you want to use.

If you just need to add sequential numbers to a bunch of files, this is really easy enough to do right in Windows. Open File Explorer, select the files you want to rename, then press F2. The last file in the list is selected. Type the name you wish to use and press Enter. All files you select are given the same name with consecutive numbers in parentheses.

But PowerRename can do that and more. If you do not already have PowerToys on your computer, download and install the PowerToysSetup.exe file from The program’s Github page. PowerToys and its software work the same way in both Windows 10 and 11.

also: How to use the free PowerToys FancyZones for Windows and why you should

How to rename multiple files in Windows with PowerRename

Open the PowerToys Settings window by double-clicking the system tray icon. Select the PowerRename entry. Turn on the switch for Enable PowerRename If it is off.

PowerToys setup window.

Shot by Lance Whitney

Next, click on the dropdown menu for Show PowerRename as and set it to The default and extended context menu. This ensures that the command is available in the context menu in Windows 10 and both context menus in Windows 11. Leave the box for Hide the icon in the context menu unchecked.

Show PowerRename in File Explorer context menus.

Shot by Lance Whitney

To receive name suggestions when searching for and replacing existing file names, be sure to turn on the switch for Enable autocomplete for search and replace fields. To control the number of suggestions you can receive when searching and replacing file names, set the number to Max number of items. If you are not sure, leave the default value at 10.

To see the last strings used for find and replace, turn on the switch for Show recently used strings. Finally, if you think you’ll need more than just regular expressions used for find and replace, turn on the switch for Use the Boost library. Otherwise, leave this off; You can always turn it on when necessary.

Options to boot into PowerRename.

PowerRename configuration is finished.

Shot by Lance Whitney

Now that you’ve checked the settings and changed any of the defaults, it’s time to take PowerRename for a spin. Open File Explorer. Select multiple files whose names you want to change. Photos imported from your phone are a good option since they are given generic labels that you will likely want to switch to more meaningful ones. Right-click anywhere on the selection and select PowerRename from the context menu.

In the right pane, confirm the files you wish to rename and make sure each one is selected.

PowerRename option in the context menu.

Select PowerRename from the context menu.

Next, it’s time to set up the search and replace strings. For this, I will use a real example. My wife and I recently took a trip to London where I took hundreds of photos. At the end of the trip, I had a bunch of photos with generic names that I wanted to rename. For the first part of this process, I wanted to rename each of them trip to london But then add a serial number at the end of each file name, starting with one and going from there.

All files initially have the names IMG_ followed by a four-digit number and then JPG as an extension, for example, IMG_1001, IMG_1002, etc. In the search field, I typed IMG_. In PowerRename, the . The symbol is used as a variable that represents a single character. So I then wrote four dots after IMG_ as in IMG_….. Then nothing to extend as I wanted to leave the JPG as is.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename.

Create the search string.

Shot by Lance Whitney

In the replacement field, I wrote trip to london. Then I clicked File Item count Where this button tells PowerRename to add a serial number in parentheses to the file name, as in Trip to London (1), Trip to London (2), etc. Clicking Apply and then renaming.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename.

Create the replacement string.

Shot by Lance Whitney

The real strength of PowerRename is its support for variables. For the second part of this process, I wanted to indicate the date each photo was taken. This requires the use of variables, specifically $ followed by the string for the date type.

With PowerRename variables, the month is represented by the letter M, the date by the letter D, and the year by the letter Y. The number of times you use the letter determines the exact format. In this case, I wanted to use the two-digit value for the month, the two-digit value for the date, and the four-digit value for the year. So, I have written the replacement string as Journey to London- $MM- $DD- $YYYY.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename with file rename.

End the replacement chain.

Shot by Lance Whitney

As a help, PowerRename previews the new names in the renamed column so you can see if your syntax is correct. If everything looks good, click the Apply button, and the files will be renamed. The new names appear in the original column to indicate that the files have been renamed. In the end, my photos had new names, the full date, and the serial numbers. mission accomplished.

If you need more powerful and flexible file renaming, you may prefer a third-party utility. I used Sherrod Computer file renaming software, which comes in both free and paid flavors, and offers a variety of renaming options. But if your file renaming needs are relatively basic, PowerRename is a useful and convenient tool.

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