How to rename multiple files in Windows using PowerRename

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You have a large number of files on your computer that you want to rename all at once and according to a specific pattern. Windows lets you rename multiple files using the same name followed by sequential numbers. But to add some punch to your file renaming, Microsoft offers a PowerToys tool called PowerRename.

The PowerRename command is accessible from the right-click context menu in File Explorer and can rename files using variables. Just select the files you want to rename, trigger the command, and then choose the filename string and variables you want to use.

If you just need to add sequential numbers to a group of files, it’s already easy enough to do it directly in Windows. Open File Explorer, select the files you want to rename, then press F2. The last file in the list is selected. Enter the name you want to use and press Enter. All selected files are given the same name with consecutive numbers in brackets.

But PowerRename can do that and more. If you don’t already have PowerToys on your PC, download and install the PowerToysSetup.exe file from the program’s GitHub page. PowerToys and its programs work the same in Windows 10 and 11.

Likewise: How to use the free PowerToys FancyZones in Windows and why you should

How to rename multiple files in Windows using PowerRename

Open the PowerToys settings window by double-clicking on the system tray icon. Select the entry for PowerRename. Turn on the switch for Enable PowerRename when it’s over

PowerToys settings window.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

Next, click the dropdown menu for PowerRename in show and set it Standard and advanced context menu. This ensures that the command is available in the context menu in Windows 10 and in both context menus in Windows 11. Leave the checkbox for Hide icon in context menu unchecked.

Show PowerRename in File Explorer context menus.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

To get name suggestions when searching and replacing the existing filenames, make sure the switch for is on Enable auto-completion for the search and replace fields. To control the number of suggestions you can get when searching and replacing filenames, set the number for Maximum number of articles. If you are not sure, leave the default value at 10.

To show the most recently used search and replace strings, turn on the switch for Show recently used strings. Finally, if you think you need more than just the regular expressions for find and replace, turn on the switch for Use the Boost library. Otherwise, omit this; You can turn it on whenever you need it.

Options to turn on in PowerRename.

Finish configuring PowerRename.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

Now that you’ve checked the settings and changed some from their defaults, it’s time to give PowerRename a try. Open File Explorer. Select multiple files whose names you want to change. Photos imported from your phone are a good option as they are given generic labels which you will probably want to change to more descriptive names. Right-click anywhere on the selection and choose PowerRename from the context menu.

In the right pane, confirm the files you want to rename and make sure they are all checked.

PowerRename option in the context menu.

Choose PowerRename from the context menu.

Next, it’s time to set up your search and replace strings. For this one I will use an actual example. My wife and I recently took a trip to London where I took hundreds of photos. At the end of the trip I had a few photos with generic names that I wanted to rename. For the first part of this process, I wanted to rename everyone Trip to London Then add a sequential number to the end of each filename, starting with one and going from there.

The files initially all had names of IMG_ followed by a four digit number and then JPG as an extension eg IMG_1001, IMG_1002 etc. In the search box I typed img_. In PowerRename, the . Symbol is used as a variable that represents a single character. So I then typed four dots after the IMG_ as in IMG_…. and then nothing for the extension as I wanted to leave JPG as is.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename.

Create the search string.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

I typed in the “Replace” field Trip to London. I then clicked on that enumerate articles button, as this tells PowerRename to add a sequential number in brackets to the filename, as in Trip to London (1), Trip to London (2), and so on. The renaming is then carried out by clicking on Apply.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename.

Create the replacement string.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

The real strength of PowerRename lies in the support of variables. For the second part of this process, I wanted to include the date each photo was taken. This required the use of variables, specifically a $ followed by the date type string.

For PowerRename variables, the letter M represents the month, the letter D represents the date, and the letter Y represents the year. The frequency with which you use the letter determines the exact format. In this case, I wanted to use the 2-digit month, 2-digit date, and 4-digit year. So I typed the replacement string as Trip to London-$MM-$DD-$YYYY.

IMG and JPG files in PowerRename with renamed files.

End the replacement string.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

To help, PowerRename previews the new names in the Renamed column so you can see if your syntax is correct. If everything looks fine, click the Apply button and the files will be renamed. The new names appear in the Original column to indicate that the files have been renamed. Eventually, my photos had their new names, full date, and sequential numbers. Mission accomplished.

If you need more powerful and flexible file renaming, you might prefer a third-party utility. I used Sherrod Computer’s File Renamer program, which comes in both free and paid variants and offers a variety of renaming options. However, if your file renaming needs are relatively simple, PowerRename is a useful and handy tool.

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