How to Batch Rename Image Filenames

Lightroom offers a quick, easy, and powerful way to batch rename files, whether you're trying to do half a dozen for a client or tens of thousands at once. Here's a guide on how to do it.

In general, I rename my files when I’m importing them. I have a preset that looks something like this:

It’s basically putting a timestamp as the filename but adding a sequence on the end as a safety net for instances where there’s more than one image per second. The result is pretty ugly, but it has some benefits. It ensures that each file has a unique name. All the files list chronologically. And it provides an alternate way of quickly finding the file if for some reason I’m having to search through a filesystem by date.

But there are times that I don’t have renamed files in my Lightroom catalog. Quite often I use the Add function in the Import dialog to bring in files that I’ve sorted elsewhere like PhotoMechanic.

Or maybe you want to batch rename the original files for a client. Or perhaps you just want to change your file naming system for existing files.

It’s important to mention that what I’m talking about here is actually renaming the files in the filesystem. These make changes to the files on your hard drive–it’s not just something within the Lightroom catalog. And while Lightroom keeps track of the new filename, if you’ve got something else accessing those files and relying on the filenames it might throw it off (like a synching operation, for example).

Lightroom offers an easy way to batch rename files. Here’s how to do it:

1. Select the Images

In the Library mode, change the view to the thumbnail grid to select multiple images at once.

2. Choose Renaming Pattern

From the right panel, go to the File Name line at the top. If you’re selected multiple files it should say “mixed”.

To the right of that line there’s a small gray menu icon. Click on that.

You’ll then get a popup renaming window.

If you click on the File Naming option, you’ll get a drop-down menu with your file naming presets. You can choose any one you want, whether that’s one of the built-in ones or something you’ve created before.

If you want to make changes, just select one, and then choose the “Edit” option at the bottom of the list. You can build your own pattern using the tokens to dynamically generate text or just insert static test.

This example is a basic time-stamping one, but you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. You have access to the full range of system file information like timestamps as well as metadata. If you’re doing one-off, like adding a client’s name to the filename, use one of the presets using a Custom Name and add a sequence at the beginning or end to make each filename unique.

Batch Rename the Image Files

Once you click on OK back in the Rename popup, Lightroom will process the images and rename the files. And that’s really all there is to it!

View Comments

  • What if you misspelled a clients name but don't want to disturb any of the other parts of the file name? Is there a search and replace function in LR so you can just change the name?

    • While there is a way to add search and replace functionality to Lightroom through a plugin (I've covered it here for a different purpose), that doesn't work on filenames, unfortunately. You could save the metadata settings for the photos to the sidecars from the catalog (if you have it set to just do catalog only), rename the files outside of Lightroom, and then resynchronize the folder, but that wouldn't work if you have the images in any collections etc, because that process removes the original from the catalog and reimports it as a new file. So that's not really a good option except in a few situations, either. I'm afraid I can't think of a good way off the top of my head to do what you're after from within Lightroom.

  • I'm using Lightroom CC 2018 and its so simplified there's no way to rename on export. In fact, its not even called export anymore - just "Save to". I've customized the order in lightroom and dont want to do it again (as my photo filenames are in the wrong order too) What can i do?

  • trouble is, when imported into the library mode the files are not in the right order. Lightroom renames them from that wrong order, so the final result is a different order from the original. Any suggestions?

    • You could try changing the sort order in the gallery toolbar to capture time (assuming that's the original order you had) and then rename.

  • Yes, thanks for the simple explanation. So many times we know it CAN be done, just haven't found the way yet.

  • This is much more complicated than renaming files in Bridge. There is no catalog to worry about either. I can't understand what anyone would want to use Lightroom anyway. The basic difference is the catalog. And who needs that? Not if one already has a way of storing and retrieving files.

    • some can't understand your negativity. if you don't want to use LR then DON'T. if you don't like strawberry, don't eat it, who really cares if you can't understand why others do.

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