Many times when you download files from the internet or copy files from a USB drive, the naming formats are not always what you expected. This is especially true of image files captured with digital cameras as they often have names that describe nothing (DSC_01.jpg does not tell me anything about the image).

While you can always easily rename your files to have meaningful names, doing it manually for a large number of files isn’t ideal. It will take forever to rename all those images to your liking if you run the task manually.

Rename 2 items in the context menu

Fortunately, the task won’t be that tedious if you’re using a Mac. The Mac has both built-in and third-party ways to quickly and easily rename a bunch of files at the same time. Just give the Mac your files and it will rename them the way you want.

Using Finder to batch rename files on Mac

You may have used the Finder to rename individual files on your Mac so far, but it can do more when it comes to renaming files. The Finder is built with the batch rename files function so you don’t need to use anything other than Finder to rename your files.

The feature isn’t hidden anywhere and has been in the context menu all this time. Let’s reveal it quickly and see what it can do for you.

Open the folder where the files to batch rename are located in the Finder on your Mac.

After opening the folder, select all the files you want to rename. to press Command + A to select all or use the Command button to make multiple custom selections.

Right-click on any of those files and you’ll find an option that says Rename X items (where X is the number of files you have selected) in the context menu. Click on it.

Rename 4 items in the context menu

Instead of the usual renaming effect, you’ll get a dialog that lets you specify how you want to rename your files. Here are each of the options briefly explained for you:

Replace text – this allows you to find existing text and replace it with something you like.

Add text – allows you to add text before or after the current file name.

Format – here you can format the naming, for example you can include custom text followed by an increasing number for your filenames and so on.

Rename the Finder Items window

After clicking on Rename button, you will see that all selected files now have the names just given. The effect is instant, so you won’t have to wait for your files to be renamed.

Using an Automator app to rename files in bulk

The built-in Finder method does a great job of renaming files in bulk, but it may not be an ideal solution when you want to apply certain pre-selected names to files.

In this case, an Automator app will be a good choice as you can pre-customize it with your chosen names and then it’s just a matter of launching files on this app to rename the files.

Start the Automaton app on your Mac, select Workflow as a new document and click Choose button. It will allow you to create your own app to rename files.

Workflow selected in the Automator window

On the following screen, you will need to add an action to your workflow. Look for the named action Get Selected Finder Items in the action list and drag it into the workflow.

Get Finder Items Selected in the Actions Window

Another action is called which you will need to add to your workflow Rename Finder items. Drag it into your workflow too.

Rename Finder items in the Actions window

When you add the second action, you will be asked if you want to make copies of your files before they are renamed. To select Don’t add and it will rename your original files.

Action confirmation window

The following screen is where you define how you want to name the files. Select the appropriate options from the self-explanatory drop-down menus. After customizing this part, save your workflow by pressing File followed by Save.

Rename the Finder Items menu

Enter a meaningful name for your app, select Application from the File format menu and click Save.

Save as window in Actions

To rename files with the newly created app, simply select all the files to rename and drag them to the app in the Finder.

File Renamer icon on the desktop next to a line of jpegs

The custom Automator app will instantly rename your files using your default options.

If you want to make the app more accessible, you can drag and drop it to the Dock. You can then drag your files onto the app in the Dock to rename them.

Using a third-party app to bulk change file names

In most cases, the previous two methods will get you the job. However, if you have special needs to rename your files, you may want to use a third party app to perform the task.

There are numerous Mac apps that help you batch rename files on your machine, and you can use any of them to do your job. Here we show how to use the Transnomino app.

  • Download and move the app to Applications folder on your Mac. Then launch the app.
  • Drag any files you want to rename from the Finder and drop them on the app. Your files will appear in the list.
  • Use the drop-down menu above to select how you want to bulk rename your files. You can replace text, prefix text, and even use regular expressions to change filenames. Finally, when you are satisfied with your choice, click on Rename above to perform the actual renaming task.
Transnomino app window

The great thing about using this app to rename your files is that it shows the final result even before you hit the rename button. This way you know what your file names will look like and can change them if necessary.


Previously, it was very difficult to rename an entire group of files at once as there was no batch rename functionality available. Nowadays, however, most operating systems have at least one built-in feature to help you change multiple filenames in one go.

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