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Batch Renaming with Photoshop's File Browser

Pete Bauer Articles Jun 29, 2005

What do you do with a whole series of digital photos with such descriptive names as <PS120006.JPG> and <PS120007.JPG>? How do you re-label those shots so you can later have some idea of what they are? Photoshop's File Browser can handle the job for you, and with a great deal of flexibility.

Digital cameras make it easy (and inexpensive) to snap off a series of shots at the drop of a hat. Have children or pets? Have a digital camera? If you answered "yes" to both of those questions, it's likely that you've got a whole lot of hard drive space tied up with images. (Being as guilty as anyone of pack-ratting images, you'll not see any lecture here about culling out the bad shots or organizing everything with Portfolio or Cumulus.)

Most digital cameras try to help us out with identifying and organizing images by assigning file names organized around dates (or, in some cases, user-selectable info). But that assistance only goes so far. ("Hey, honey, what pictures were we taking on May 12th last year?")

Photoshop's File Browser gives us an easy way to preview and organize images. And with Batch Rename, we can assign names that mean something. In File Browser, select the images you want to rename, then access the Batch Rename command through File Browser's menu. When docked in the Palette Well, the menu's triangle is in the tab. When undocked, you'll find it in the upper-right corner of the window.

You have the option of renaming the files and leaving them where they are, or copying the files to a new folder with the new names. (Note: Copy images from your camera or removable media to your hard drive before using File Browser's Batch Rename feature.) You'll find six fields in which you identify the various bits and pieces you want to use for the new files names.

You can type info into one or more fields and it will be used in all of the new file names. You can also select variables from a pop-up menu. Remember that each of the names must differ in some way. One part of the new name must be a serial variable or you must include the file's original document name. Should you overlook this requirement, Photoshop will remind you.

Here's a neat trick in Batch Rename. You can start sequential numbering of the file names with any number you want. If you select "3 Digit Serial Number" from the pop-up menu, it automatically starts renumbering with 001. But what if you're adding images to an existing sequence? Simply type the starting number between a pair of # symbols. The first renamed file will use that number, and each of the following names will increase by one.

If, for example, my collection of "DoggyPics" images already contains 28 files, numbered <DoggyPics001.jpg> through <DoggyPics028.jpg>, I'd want to start this next Batch Rename with <DoogyPics029.jpg>. Here's what the dialog box would show:

File Browser's Batch Rename feature can help you quickly and easily start organizing your digital images.


Pete Bauer

Pete Bauer is the Help Desk Director for NAPP, as well as a Contributing Writer for Photoshop User and Mac Design magazines. His books include "Special Edition Using Adobe Photoshop 7" (with Jeff Foster), "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 10," "Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Illustrator 10 in 24 Hours" (with Mordy Golding), and "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 9." Pete writes documentation for a variety of computer graphics related products, as well as testing software for a number of companies. As a computer graphics efficiency consultant, Pete specializes in customized training programs. He is based in Columbus, Ohio, and can be contacted via Email.

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