Changing the names of a bunch of files in one operation can turn out to be a mess if you're not careful.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Powerful file renamers for Windows and Macs

Oct. 5, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Sometimes the easiest things turn out to be the hardest. Changing the names of a bunch of files in one operation seems simple, for example, but it can turn out to be a mess if you're not careful.
   That's why I'm a big fan of utilities that do only one thing -- rename files in batches. (For this reason, they're sometimes called "batch file renamers," which is OK as long as you remember what your third-grade teacher told you about modifiers. They don't actually rename batch files; they rename files in batches.)
   Some of you might know of ways to rename multiple files within Windows or the Mac without needing extra software. I recommend against methods like that because the utilities I'm recommending do a much better job -- and they won't cost you anything.
   The importance of a batch renamer becomes clear as soon as you try to make sense out of group of files that haven't been named in any helpful way. Suppose you're in charge of the family photo shoot from last month's big reunion. Your Uncle Harry helped out by taking 213 photos, all named something like this: IMG11526. Your brother-in-law's girlfriend brought her camera along and sent you three dozen pictures with names like "DSC02314," and dear old momma sent five photos with names you can't even begin to figure out.
   What you need is a way to turn those useless names into "Reunion 2008-1," "Reunion 2008-2" and so forth. And that's just what these two utilities -- one for Windows, the other for Macs -- will do for you. They're both free and easy to use.
   Either one of these utilities will amaze you. Replacing one part of a name with another string of characters is child's play. Capitalizing the first character literally couldn't be easier.
   The Windows renamer is Lupas Rename, from rename.lupasfreeware.org. The Mac software is Name Mangler, from www.manytricks.com/namemangler. Both are free. (And yes, "Lupas Rename" sounds like Lupus, a serious autoimmune disease, and I wish the author had used another word.)
   Note: The Lupas Rename site was slow in responding as of Saturday night. Please try it again in a few days if you are having problems.
   For both programs, renaming similar files -- a group of photos, say -- so that they are sequentially numbered is a five-second task. Adding characters in the middle of names is easy, as is changing names so they start with different characters.
   In every instance, you get to see what the changes will be before you decide to make them. This preview function is perhaps the best little feature I've seen in any program in years, and both of them have it.
   Each program can do a lot more. If you have the heart of a programmer, you'll probably love the way you can concoct special renaming sequences, too. At the price, you can't go wrong with either one.