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The Best Little Windows Hack You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – How-To

windowsfilehack2 The Best Little Windows Hack Youve Probably Never Heard Of   How To

I’m a little worried about raving over this little trick I learned a couple of days ago. Mostly because I know some folks are going to call me stupid for not knowing about it before. So I apologize in advance to the experts, but this simple hack is going to save me so much time, and hopefully others too, that I’m not going to worry about their scorn.

If you take a lot of photos with your camera or phone and like me process them on a Windows computer, you may not realize that Windows features a superb file re-naming trick you can use to make things massively easier in terms of organization.

I have been laboriously re-naming my files for years and even installed some klunky renaming freeware to help, but nothing was really suitable. Now I don’t have to worry, because of this baked in feature of Windows. This has to rank as one of my all-time best Windows hacks ever. Why on earth did it take me so long to find out?

Check out the video below to see how it works.

For those who can’t be bothered to view the How-To video, here’s how it works.

1. Select all the photo files in the folder (or just the ones you want to rename), right mouse click on any one of them and then select Rename.

2. Enter in the new name you want…e.g. MegsTripJan13.jpg.

3. Hit the enter key and the system will then immediately fill out all the remaining files with the same name, along with an incrementing number.

Bingo, a folder full of easily identifiable files.

This is amazing if, like me, you frequently take 20 or 30 shots at a time (or even more on vacation for example) and then dump them into a folder, languishing with some really obscure DSC20293.jpg type names. Now I can dump a whole session shoot into a folder, and instantly rename all the photos to something which I can remember along with a date or whatever.

It’s absolutely genius!

I’ve tried it with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 and it works fine, but I haven’t tried Windows XP (how embarrassing if it’s been around that long and I didn’t know about it!). Anyway, hope it helps you out too.

 The Best Little Windows Hack Youve Probably Never Heard Of   How To

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


  • John F. Bramfeld

    Just tried it on Vista. Works great. Thanks.

    • Pleasure. :)

      • Poena

        A little tip – to rename a lot of pics in a folder
        Sort Files by Date & Time before the Rename – you now have them in Timeline order ;-)

  • Rich R

    Yes, it did it in XP, and in Windows 2000 prior to that. It’s the same mechanism as if you try to copy a file into a folder where there’s already a file with that name. The second one gets a (1) after it. Then if you copy in another it gets a (2) after it, and so on.

    • See I knew it. :) I did know about the incremental number update if you tried to copy files on top of each other, but I never knew you could just select all the files in a folder and upgrade them all with one name instantly. Makes me wonder why all these file re-naming programs exist (well apart from the added flexibility I suppose).

  • MusicalBox

    Tested on Vista too.
    But it does not work quite the same as in your video.
    Suppose I want to rename a bunch of photos “Vacation2013”. The first one will be renamed just “Vacation2013.jpg”. The numbers will be added only to the other files.
    But great time saver anyway. Thanks a lot :)

    • Heh, yes it will keep one file as the original named. Glad you like it though. :)

  • Bob

    Anyone still got Windows 3.1? ;)

    If it works in DOS your shame is complete!

  • not.A.Hack

    This is not a ‘hack’. This is how Windows handles renaming multiple files.

  • I knew it would rename copies, but not the mass rename as you describe. Cool. :) Thanks for sharing. Weird that there are these tricks that have been around forever, and you then you hear about them. You learn something new every day. :)

    • I think it’s completely bizarre that these features are sitting out there hidden. I’ve been using Windows since version 3.1 and I had no idea you could do this. I guess there’s just so much stuff out there that it’s impossible to know it all. :)

      • M Edward L

        Oh crap! I was given an old Toshiba Satellite 350 laptop that had Win 3.1 on it (circa 2000), so I toyed with it, eventually erased it and put on what was then, an OS that the Soviet gov’t/military put out to public domain. It used to run their spy satellites. A group of Russian programmers latched on to it, renamed it Minuet, and it fit on two floppy disks! I loved using that on that old IBM laptop!

  • There’s also a very small and nice old freeware that works fantastically good doing this job: Renamer. Available at their site: http://www.den4b.com/

  • M Edward L

    That actually isn’t dumb at all, it’s just one of those “Heck! I should have figured that out!” because ever notice how you might accidently download the same file twice, so Windows drops a (1) or (2) next to it? Same concept.
    I download lots of torrent files and categorize them in separate directories. One day I decided I wanted to see if there was a batch file that would only print out a list of only the names of the files, no extensions, no extra data. Found one! So I added the batch file to ever directory and once and awhile I generate a new list. Really useful.

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