In these days of MP3 libraries and vast collections of digital images, many of us have faced the necessity of renaming our files for organizational purposes. If you've come here looking for a solution we have some good news. There are great (and free!) programs to suit your needs.
There are many different methods to achieve the desired result, from laboriously renaming files one at a time using Windows Explorer, to bulk renaming utilities that can pull out metadata or execute powerful Perl based regular expressions. Some programs focus on simplicity and others are designed for power users. Most of the renamers support a basic set of features such as crop, insert, remove, replace, case changes, and auto number. And some renamers have more powerful features than others.
My rough guess is that about 95% of readers are mainly interested in bulk renaming MP3 files and pictures. While the remaining 5% (probably power users) rename thousands of files every day and have got their own favourite already. That's why the following reviews are focused on common users that are looking for an application to help with their music files and pictures.
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File Renamer Basic has a very appealing, polished interface that has a directory tree, a file listing, and tabs below. Beyond the basic features File Renamer Basic also supports regular expressions, ID3 v1 and ID3 v2, EXIF, renaming lists, saved profiles for repeat tasks, and ID3 tag editing which is a good feature. And, the help files are excellent.
A solid renamer altogether but not without some issues. For example, it could not find EXIF metadata for my images, there are no regular expression information or examples included in the help files, and it would be better if the undo, subfolder, and logging features were included in the free version.
Bulk Rename Utility has a cluttered interface and takes a little getting used to. You can choose files to be affected in the main window and drag files from Windows Explorer. It has an undo feature. Among many other basic features you can auto date, add a prefix or suffix, and move or copy to another location. Bulk Rename Utility supports custom file formats, logging, regular expressions, a few EXIF tags, and ID3 v1 tags. You can stack commands, zoom in to increase the size of a small text box, and modify file attributes, save frequently used configurations, and also import a file rename list.
Bulk Rename Utility is easy to use, powerful, and highly functional with excellent help files, suggestions, and examples. However the interface is a little messy, only supports a few EXIF tags, and there is no support for ID3 v2. I noticed some bugginess when attempting to rename MP3 files by their ID3 tags when there was no ID3 v1 data.
Advanced Renamer has an attractive interface and works a little differently than other renamers. After you select the files you want to rename, you select the "Renaming method" you want to use. You then select pre-defined tags from multiple menus as commands. You can switch between methods to add different types of tags. The renaming is mostly menu driven and I found it very easy to use after getting the hang of it.
Its a little light on more powerful features but its easy to use. It only supports a handful of ID3 and EXIF tags. A very nice undo feature allows you to choose from a list which changes to undo. You can stack commands, map illegal file name characters, automatically display metadata, and change file attributes. It has a picture preview, supports file change lists, and has very good help files. Since v2.7 was introduced, support for regular expressions and natural sorting has been added. However, selecting files from a list to rename is clunky and you cannot select which ones you want to change as you can only remove them from the list.
PFrank is loaded with features and covers most of the renaming aspects. Besides all common renaming features PFrank supports meta data tags for many different file types. It can also modify meta tags and file properties.
The downside, affecting casual users for the most part, is that PFrank has a steep learning curve compared to the other renamers. Even the simplest rename will require a little studying of the help file. Nevertheless, technically minded users will pick up the syntax quickly enough to make it worth their while.
Siren Siren is one of the most powerful renamers I have tested. For a power user with many and varied tasks to complete Siren will make your life a lot easier. On the negative side, Siren has a steep learning curve compared to other renamers. With what is in essence a library of predefined tags the simplest rename will require a little studying of the help file. Siren is no longer developed. No installation required.
Lupas Rename has a fairly intuitive interface and once you know your way around it, changing complex file names with this powerful utility is easy. I was unable to get the regular expressions to work on Vista or XP. Metadata tags are manually entered instead of choosing from a menu. Unfortunately, it appears Lupas Rename is no longer actively developed. No instalation is required.
ReNamer has a clean interface, supports a few different metatags and offers powerful PascalScript option for power users. Help files could do with improvement. I have not linked to this renamer as Norton reports the website as malicious. This could well be due solely to the nature of the products being offered, but we would advise caution when deciding to enter this site. No installation is required.
Metamorphose 2 Beta is more complicated to use than other renamers. I found myself reading help files more than actually doing any renaming.
Rename Master supports EXIF and ID3 tags, regular expressions and scripts. No installation is required.
Wild Rename is a very basic renamer that can perform tasks with support of regular expressions. It does not support EXIF or ID3 tags. No installation is required.
CKRename v1.08 has a simple design and you can change file names, extensions, case, auto number, and use sting substitution but it doesn't have many advanced features.
Rename-It! v3.05 is a very simple program with just a few features. It has an intuitive interface and you can do simple cropping, case changes. It supports regular expressions and a few ID3 tags, both v1 and v2. Seems to work well for what it does but has less functionality than other renamers.
Ant Renamer v2.10 supports regular expressions, EXIF tags, and ID3 v1 tags. You can also change names from an imported file list. File change preview is limited to a single file and you cannot simultaneously view the commands and the file listing. No ID3 v2 support. Irritating bugs, for example, just open "Options", change anything and the language also changes.
A.F.5 Rename v1.1 is a simple renamer for basic day-to-day use. Actually it is too simple for my liking with no ID3 or EXIF support and no recursive file structure.
Multi File Renameris another basic renamer on our list. It does not support ID3 or EXIF tags, extensions or recursive file structure. Suitable for basic tasks.
You might want to check out these articles too:
File Renamer Basic
Bulk Rename Utility