Automator | Batch Rename Files


You don’t have to consider yourself a Power User to use Automator.  I’ve written a handful of posts in the past regarding this little-known – yet powerful – Mac app.  Here’s a great example of how you can, with just a couple clicks, create a custom Service that allows you to batch rename files on your Mac for free!


A Service is a contextual menu in nearly every program on your Mac.  To see some quick examples, highlight this paragraph and go to your browser’s menu (next to the : Safari or Chrome, etc.).  You’ll find the “Services” menu in there and some quick workflows you can run, based on your highlighted items.

Next, open your Finder and select a couple of files.  Go to Finder > Services, and you’ll see some contextual items related to what you have selected.  If you were to select images in the Finder, you’ll even see different options.

Creating Your Own Service

You can create your own Service in 4 simple steps, after you open Automator:

  1. Choose the “Service” preset
  2. Choose what selected items will be processed, and where (i.e. “Files or Folders in the Finder” or “Text in Any Application”)
  3. Add actions to your workflow
  4. Save and name appropriately

Creating a Batch Rename Files Service

Here are the options I chose for my custom service:

  1. Service receives selected Files or Folders in the Finder
  2. Add the “Rename Finder Items” action
  3. Add the “Ask for Confirmation” action

You can customize each option to your desired preset.  I set up my Rename Finder Items workflow to be sequential with a new name, a dash separator, and all numbers 2 digits long.  I also chose, under “Options”, to Show this action when the workflow runs so that I can customize the naming every time I use the service.

You can also customize the text for the Ask for Confirmation item to make it easier for you end user.

Using Your Custom Service

After you have saved and named your Service, you can head to the Finder, select files, and then go to Finder > Services (or right-click) and choose your newly-created workflow.  See a quick example in this demo, showing how to quickly batch rename screenshots.


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