Rename Command in Linux (Rename Multiple Files)
3 min read
Renaming multiple files and directories with the
command can be a tedious process as it involves writing complex commands with pipes, loops
, and so on.
This is where the
rename command comes handy. It renames the given files by replacing the search expression in their name with the specified replacement.
In this tutorial, we will explain how to use the
rename command to batch rename files.
There are two versions of the
rename command with different syntax and features. We will be using the Perl version of the
If this version is not installed on your system, use the package manager of your Linux distribution to install it:
Ubuntu and Debian
sudo apt update
sudo apt install rename
CentOS and Fedora
sudo yum install prename
The following is the general syntax for the
rename [OPTIONS] perlexpr files
rename command is basically a Perl script. It will rename the given
files according to the specified
perlexpr regular expression. You can read about Perl regular expressions here
For example, the following command will change the extension of all
.css files to
rename 's/.css/.scss/' *.css
Let’s explain the command in more details:
s/search_pattern/replacement/- The substitution operator.
.css- The search pattern. It is the first argument in the substitution operator. The
renamecommand will search for this pattern in the given file name and if found it will replace it with the replacement argument.
.scss- The replacement. The second argument in the substitution operator.
*.css- All files with “.css” extension. Wildcard (
*) is a symbol used to represent zero, one or more characters.
Before running the actual command and rename the files and directories it is always a good idea to use the
-n option that will perform a “dry run” and show you what files will be renamed:
rename -n 's/.css/.scss/' *.css
The output will look something like this:
rename(file-0.css, file-0.scss) rename(file-1.css, file-1.scss) rename(file-2.css, file-2.scss) rename(file-3.css, file-3.scss) rename(file-4.css, file-4.scss)
By default, the
rename command doesn’t overwrite the existing files. Use the
-f option which tells
rename to overwrite the existing files:
rename -f 's/.css/.scss/' *.css
If you want
rename to print the names of files that are successfully renamed, use the
-v (verbose) option:
rename -v 's/.css/.scss/' *.css
file-0.css renamed as file-0.scss file-1.css renamed as file-1.scss file-2.css renamed as file-2.scss file-3.css renamed as file-3.scss file-4.css renamed as file-4.scss
Below are a few common examples of how to use the rename command:
Replace spaces in filenames with underscores
rename 'y/ /_/' *
Convert filenames to lowercase
rename 'y/A-Z/a-z/' *
Convert filenames to uppercase
rename 'y/a-z/A-Z/' *
.bak from the filenames
rename 's/\.bak$//' *.bak
.JPG filenames to
rename 's/\.jpe?g$/.jpg/i' *
rename command allows you to rename multiple files at once, using Perl regular expressions.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment.