jump to navigation

Joe’s Guide to Free Elearning Tools: Bulk Rename Utility September 9, 2009

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools.

Item: Bulk File Renamer

Category: Utilities

I was fortunate to be able to get out of town with “Mrs. Free eLearning Tools” for a few days before the beginning of the new school year. Of course, getting away no longer means leaving the digital world behind. In fact, in addition to our usual day-to-day electronic gear, we also had our GPS and digital camera—the better to find the touristy spots and take pictures of them!

Once the pictures were taken, we had dozens (if not hundreds) of digital picture files—all named “DSC001, DSC002, etc, etc.” As memorable as some of the photos might be, the file names don’t exactly bring “Summer 2009 Vacation” to mind. It’s easy enough to change a single file name, but changing hundreds requires either lots of time and patience, or…something like the aptly named Bulk Rename Utility.

Similarly, there have been plenty of times when I have been working on an eLearning project and have ended up with a small library of stock images, PowerPoint or audio files, or even published course module versions. Usually I have some naming convention in mind for project elements, but over the course of a long project, or in working with multiple content authors the file names tend to get a little unorganized.

What it Does:

The Bulk Rename Utility (BRU) allows you to rename multiple files quickly and easily, using a broad range of useful renaming options.  The User Interface is similar to Windows Explorer, with a tree view in the left pane, and a list view in the right.  Files appearing in the list view are the ones affected by changes made in BRU, however there are two “safety” features:

1)  File(s) to be changed must be highlighted, in addition to appearing in the list view.  If you have 50 files in a directory, but only want to change two—simply highlight those two only.

2)  A column in the list view shows the (proposed) new file name before you commit to any change.  Not sure if you actually want to “Remove D/S, Sym, Digits” from your file name?  Select the desired files and options to see what the new file would look like. (Note: This example would remove all double spaces, symbols, and numbers from the file name, but would leave the file extension intact).

In all, there are 13 different options for changing file names.  This makes the Controls (rules) section of the interface a bit busy.  Don’t let that intimidate you, as there is a clear logic to how and when each works.  Each rule appears in its own separate numbered box and is processed as numbered.  Additionally, each rule has a checkbox to turn that option on or off, and an “R” button to reset that checkbox back to its default status.  There is also a “Reset” button to clear all changes back to their default values.

Rather than try to explain the features and functionalities of all 13 file renaming rules, here are a few examples of how I have used the program that you might also find useful:

  • Added file dates to the actual file names
    • Sometimes the easiest way to be sure you are using the right file is to have the date embedded in the file name.
  • Replaced generic “DSC” naming convention from digital photos with the name of the applicable project.
    • Ok, for this my “project” was the aforementioned “Summer 2009 Vacation”, but the principle holds true, even for work situations.
  • Removed all characters after “VER” and added a new numbering sequence.
    • Files being repurposed for a new project were updated to show versioning for the new project, rather than the old.
  • Standardized entire file names to be all lower case.
    • Not always necessary, but sometimes ftp programs and file servers can be case sensitive.
  • Appended the name of the original directory/subdirectory to the filename itself.
    • Once project files get out into the wilds of the Interwebs, it can sometimes be difficult to identify their source.  I’ve found that appending the original directory name to the file can be helpful in tracing these items back.

There are obviously a lot more possibilities, but to explore those, I suggest you download the program!

How to Get:

The Bulk Rename Utility is a free download for all recent versions of Windows. The installer-based version allows you to add BRU functions to your Windows context menu, however there is also a version (that can be loaded without an installer file, making the program useful as a portable application that can be run from flash drive. Both of these versions are available here:




1. eLearning tools - October 15, 2009

Great explanation jmullock, Thanks also for sharing your knowledge and experience with this great too. Looking forward for your future post.

2. jerry - November 22, 2009

Is it possible to set the file extension selection default to “same”? The default that i have is fixed =html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: