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OS X Workflow: Batch Editing – Renaming a Long List of Files

I'm not sure if this will apply to everyone in the design world, but renaming a huge list of files can be a real pain, and I've found myself in need of batch editing countless times. It's so much faster and easier to do a “Batch Rename” to save a ton of time, and a ton of clicks. OS X has a built-in utility called Automator that can do just that, among many other things. I'll keep it simple for now, but depending on the reaction I get, maybe I can go into more detail about Automator in future posts.

OS X Workflow: Batch Editing - Renaming a Long List of Files


Automator is an application that runs a series of customizable scripts called ‘actions.' A series of ‘actions' is called a ‘workflow.' I created a Batch Rename Workflow for anyone who doesn't feel like making their own. You can download it here. Just unzip, double-click, choose your settings and you'll be batching in no time.

1. Download and Unzip

Download the workflow, unzip it then double-click and it will open in Automator. (Note: you may want to save it in Automator and choose one of Automator's default locations, so you'll be able to find it each time you launch Automator.)

2. Choose Your Settings

You should now have the workflow open inside the Automator Application. Now all you have to do is 1) add/choose the folder where all your files are located that need renaming, 2) Choose a location for the files after they are renamed, and 3) Choose a name for the new series of files. (There are lots of naming options: sequential, replace text, etc.)

OS X Workflow: Batch Editing - Renaming a Long List of Files

3. Run the Workflow

Once you have all of your setting in place, Click the “Run” button in the top right to execute the script and you're done, Depending on how many files you just renamed, you probably save a few minutes at least. You might notice that this workflow makes a copy of each file before it renames them. This is so it leaves your original file intact, but If you simply want to rename without copying, just close the “Copy Finder Items” action inside the workflow.

OS X Workflow: Batch Editing - Renaming a Long List of Files

If you're new to Automator but you're curious you can browse the Apple Downloads Automator section for tons of free downloads including an awesome Set of Automator Actions for Photoshop. You can batch anything from image size to color mode, orientation, file type and more. You'd be surprised.

I'm the editor-in-chief of I'm a designer and developer by day, and a writer and musician when the feeling strikes. I enjoy vintage advertisements and puzzles with an absurd amount of pieces. Follow me on Twitter.

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