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How to Bulk Rename Files to Organize Your Family Photos

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/2/2015

You may have hundreds or thousands of photos scattered around your hard drive with random names, since cell phones and cameras each name digital photos using their own numbering scheme. This article will show you how to use a free tool to name your files in a logical manner.

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    Prepare for Organization

    It may seem silly that you need to prepare to organize, but it’ll save you time in the long run. The goal is to use the original date and time the picture was taken and then append a number so a picture taken August 05, 2003 at 3:15pm will be labeled 2003-08-05_1515.jpg.

    Here are some tips before we get started:

    • Think about how you want to name your files. The tool we’ll be using will allow us to pull EXIF data from your photos. EXIF data is stored within image files and typically contains the manufacturer and model of the camera that took the picture, exposure, picture size and data and time that the picture was taken.
    • Make sure you have all of your photos in a single location. This way you can do all of your photos in a single batch if you desire.
    • Consider making a backup of all of the photographs you’ll be renaming. If something goes wrong, you will be able to restore your photos back to before we started.
    • Download and install Bulk Rename Utility (BRU). Once downloaded, follow the wizard to perform the install.
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    Using Bulk Rename Utility

    Using Bulk Rename Utility 

    Don’t let the tool scare you off. There are tons of options for modifying file names but once you get the hang of it you will appreciate how handy BRU is. Let’s get started.

    In the upper left area, you’ll want to browse to the folder that has your pictures in it. Once you have selected it you should see your pictures show up in the top right window (Figure 1).

    Next, we want to use the EXIF data for when the picture was taken. Click Options -> Extract -> EXIF Data. You should now see data show up in the “Taken (Original)” column.

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    Next, we need to build the rules for renaming our files. First, we want to remove the existing name. Click on a picture and then under “File (2)” select Name: Remove. You should now see the New Name column taking shape (Figure 2).

    Next, we want to create the date rules. Under Auto Date (8), we want to select Prefix for the Mode. Type should be Taken (Original) and FMT should be set to custom.

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    Now, we build our format in the Custom filed under the Auto Date section. To add the full four-digit year we put in %Y. Then we add a dash followed by the month (%m) another dash and the day (%d). You should see the name built out in the “New Name” column as you build it (Figure 3).

    If we happen to have two pictures taken on the same date we are going to run into an issue with duplicate file names. Let’s add in the time the picture was taken as well. We will add an underscore to separate the date and time so go ahead and add “_” after the %d in the Custom field.

    Type in %H%M to add in the hour and minute. Your full Custom field should now be “%Y-%m-%d_%H%M”.

    Note that as you go along, the New Name column is simply showing you a preview of what the name will be. Nothing has been modified on your files yet. Next, select all of the pictures you wish to rename. Verify the New Name column matches up with what you want. Click the big

    Now, we build our format in the Custom filed under the Auto Date section. To add the full four-digit year we put in %Y. Then we add a dash followed by the month (%m) another dash and the day (%d). You should see the name built out in the “New Name” column as you build it (Figure 3).

    If we happen to have two pictures taken on the same date we are going to run into an issue with duplicate file names. Let’s add in the time the picture was taken as well. We will add an underscore to separate the date and time so go ahead and add “_” after the %d in the Custom field.

    Type in %H%M to add in the hour and minute. Your full Custom field should now be “%Y-%m-%d_%H%M”.

    Note that as you go along the New Name column is simply showing you a preview of what the name will be. Nothing has been modified on your files yet. Next, select all of the pictures you wish to rename. Verify the New Name column matches up with what you want. Click the big

    Now, we build our format in the Custom filed under the Auto Date section. To add the full four-digit year we put in %Y. Then we add a dash followed by the month (%m) another dash and the day (%d). You should see the name built out in the “New Name” column as you build it (Figure 3).

    If we happen to have two pictures taken on the same date we are going to run into an issue with duplicate file names. Let’s add in the time the picture was taken as well. We will add an underscore to separate the date and time so go ahead and add “_” after the %d in the Custom field.

    Type in %H%M to add in the hour and minute. Your full Custom field should now be “%Y-%m-%d_%H%M”.

    Note that as you go along the New Name column is simply showing you a preview of what the name will be. Nothing has been modified on your files yet. Next, select all of the pictures you wish to rename. Verify the New Name column matches up with what you want. Click the big Rename button on the bottom right.

    If you go look at your folder now you should see the renamed files! That’s all there is to it. If you want to see more advanced examples, read through the Bulk Rename Utility help file to get ideas for renaming other files.