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How to rename multiple files quickly with FreeCommander

This free Windows utility gives you the ability to rename a batch of files with one click.

Matt Elliott/CNET

FreeCommander is a feature-rich yet free file management program for Windows that lets you view your file hierarchies in two separate panes. Among its many features, and the one that is the sole focus of this post, is its ability to rename multiple files in one fell swoop. It lets you select a group of files and create a sequential list with a single click.

Take those images you just imported from your camera--IMG0154.jpg, IMG0155.jpg, IMG0156.jpg--and turn them into something more meaningful, such as beach1.jpg, beach2.jpg, etc.

When you launch the app, you'll be greeted with a small window with two panes. Use either pane to drill down to find the files you'd like to rename. Highlight the files to rename and select File > Rename (hitting F2 will also do the trick).

Next, from the Multi rename window, you'll see your selected files at the top and renaming options at the bottom. Below, under the Pattern header, is a File name field for renaming your files. You can type in a new file name, and you can also type (or choose from the blue downward arrow to the right) in placeholders to keep some of the existing file name. The symbol [n] is a placeholder for the name of the file, and using [c] lets you use the counter to the right to number your files. From the counter area, you can choose a starting number, the interval between each numbered file, and how many digits to include.

Matt Elliott/CNET

For example, I have a group of photos imported from my camera with useless IMG1523.png file names. I typed "fall trip [c]" into the name field and chose to start at 1, step by 1, and 2 for the number of digits in the Counter field, and my photos were then renamed fall trip 01.png, fall trip 02.png and so on. Much more useful for me.

There is a lot more to FileCommander, but the batch renaming function is great. And my favorite aspect of it is the preview of your new file names it shows at the top, next to the old names, making experimenting with the many renaming options risk-free. When you find a naming convention that works, click the Rename button and all of your files are instantly renamed.

For a different approach to renaming multiple files, check out Rapid Streams Name-Dropper.