Hands on: Use A Better Finder Rename 10 on your Mac to wrangle file names

Posted:
in Mac Software
A Better Finder Rename is a tool akin to a sledgehammer for file name changes on the Mac, but used precisely, sometimes a big hammer is what you need.




We've all got all those photos that like DSC9762.jpg that you've renamed Holiday Photo for your own sanity. Or, you duplicated last month's invoice and changed the new file's name to include the month in it. That's the kind of thing Mac users do all the time -- and A Better Finder Rename 10 may be how Mac users should do it all the time.

It really succeeds when you need to rename a lot of files and it's really only essential when you do it a lot. It's also not necessarily something you'd give to a Mac user on their very first day with a keyboard.




Back in the old days, we mean really way back in the early days of DOS, we were in an argument. It was one of those PC vs. Mac debates and the opposition's killer point was to do with renaming files.

"Macs are rubbish," they said. "Because you can't rename every file you've got by going *.* anywhere. So there."

At the time, we couldn't answer this. Only, it was true that you couldn't rename everything on a Mac in one go and it still is -- unless you're both insane and also happen to have A Better Finder Rename 10.

You still don't want to rename everything wildly or randomly. But, ABFR 10 will let you do that and more usefully will let you rename groups of files in ways that range from simple to remarkably intricate.

Say you're a freelancer and you're hopefully adding more clients. Each time you get a new one, you might set up some documents with standard emails you write to them or standard folders that you always need.




With ABFR you could create all of those documents and all of those folders with some generic name and then rename them with the client's details when you're ready. Rename all of them. In one go.

To do this or any other renaming, you open up ABFR and choose from a truly startling number of possible ways to rename files. Then you drag over all the files to ABFR's window and let go. ABFR will show you very clearly what you're about to do: you get a list showing the files as they're named now and what they will be renamed to if you say so.

For instance, if we're doing that business with the client files then we might drag in generic ones called "zzz Original Brief", "zzz Costings" and so on. We choose ABFR's Text category and its option to "Replace text at beginning". It's then like a Search and Replace: we say we want to change every occurrence of "zzz" to "BBC4" or whatever the client name is.

ABFR shows us a list of our files as soon as we've dragged them in and then when we've chosen an option, also shows us what the result would be for each file.

This adding a client name is easy for ABFR and it's actually easy enough for you to do manually: if there aren't that many files, you could go right ahead and rename them without buying ABFR. It's when there is a lot to do and it's especially when what you want is more complicated that you need ABFR.




Take that photography example where an image from the camera is called DSC9762.jpg and you want it to be Holiday Photo instead. The odds are that you've taken hundreds of photos and you actually want to rename the fifty ones from Tuesday as Holiday in Santa Monica 01, 02, 03 and so on.

ABFR will do that. It will totally replace a filename and it will add a number to the end that it will increment as it goes.

If you do have hundreds of images, ABFR will take seconds to do what would take you hours. Or, if you have this great system of client folders, ABFR will rename them in precisely the same way you want so you never misname anything.

You can also drag MP3 files into ABFR and it will pull out all the tags that might be encoded such as artist name or even the audio bitrate. It gets all of those and you can tell it to use that information to rename the files.




So, you might drag in a hundred MP3s and yes, sort them into artist or something, but also just arrange them by bitrate. As well as speeding up your time organizing files so you can find what you need, that might let you throw away the lesser quality audio files without even playing them.

It doesn't work with every MP3 but that's because not everyone making MP3 files does it right. It's not a failing of ABFR and actually we can't think of anything we'd want to criticize in this app.

The only trouble with ABFR is that you're not going to use it very much -- like that sledgehammer you have in the garage. On the occasions that you need a tool like ABFR, a regular mallet won't do, so you'll be glad you've got it.

You could just find that you go a year or more between uses, and that means each time it does take some effort to recall how it works. If you can think first about how you would ideally like a bunch of files named, though, you can then go into ABFR and be pretty sure that it will do it.

A Better Finder Rename is available directly from the makers for 19.95 or approximately $24. You can also download a trial version from there.

However, the same app is also available on the Mac App Store under a slightly different name: for some reason it's called Better Rename 10 there and costs $20.

And, it even exists for Windows.
Donna McMaster

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Silly name (accurate, but too long).
    Great product.
    Bought my copy 9+ years ago.
    Highly recommended.
    cornchiphmurchison
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Agreed. Invaluable tool for file management. I manage a couple photo libraries, each with a quarter million+ images. Couldn't live without this.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,687member
    1) Great app. Unfortunately I haven't had a need for an app like this for a very, very long time, and for the very few mass renaming that I have done over the past several years I've either done manually or by using Automator.

    2) I wonder if they would be finically benefited by allowing people get, say, 48 hour timed usage of the app for 99¢.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 547member
    You can select a list of files in Finder, right click and select the “Rename X Files” option. You have numerous options in the resulting drop down menu. The Format option lets you name them various ways. 
    Its worth a look before spending twenty dollars. 
    edited March 2018 deepinsider
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,345administrator
    hexclock said:
    You can select a list of files in Finder, right click and select the “Rename X Files” option. You have numerous options in the resulting drop down menu. The Format option lets you name them various ways. 
    Its worth a look before spending twenty dollars. 
    Replace Text, Add Text, Format.
    hmurchison
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Why not use the free app NameChanger?
    deepinsider
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,345administrator
    Why not use the free app NameChanger?
    Namechanger is good too, in much the same way that the Finder options are, but has fewer pre-sets for wider-ranging name changes.

    Certainly, it's something to put on the escalation list. If the Finder can't do what you want, then try Namechanger. If Namechanger can't, then you've got the sledge.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    ivauaivaua Posts: 4member
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
  • Reply 9 of 20
    ivaua said:
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
    Because I have no interest in learning Automator. And, I have been writing code for 30+ years.
    $20 is nothing for a useful piece of software.
    jony0
  • Reply 10 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,687member
    ivaua said:
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
    There’s lots of functionality built into macOS that’s much easier to do with a GUI app and/or 3rd-party app. I’m not going to tell my mother to fire up Automator and learn how to crate her own app when she has thousands of photos with a dozen parameters she wants to rename en masse.
    jony0
  • Reply 11 of 20
    T766T766 Posts: 3member
    Davebarnes: I had no scripting experience, but within five minutes of downloading Automator when it first came out I had made a service to rename files. I work with hundreds of photos and was aching for this functionality. It’s so easy, it’s more akin to Lego than scripting.
    ivaua
  • Reply 12 of 20
    ivauaivaua Posts: 4member
    ivaua said:
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
    Because I have no interest in learning Automator. And, I have been writing code for 30+ years.
    $20 is nothing for a useful piece of software.
    I am not a coder and never being one. There is nothing to learn. It is drag and drop interface. You seem to mistake Apple Script with Automator...
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 13 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,687member
    ivaua said:
    ivaua said:
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
    Because I have no interest in learning Automator. And, I have been writing code for 30+ years.
    $20 is nothing for a useful piece of software.
    I am not a coder and never being one. There is nothing to learn. It is drag and drop interface. You seem to mistake Apple Script with Automator…
    There's definitely something to learn. You're really missing the point if you believe that a free app like NameChanger is easier to the average person than Automator. The average person doesn't want to build and test their own goddamn app. They simply want one that has been built, testing, and is working already.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,345administrator
    Soli said:
    ivaua said:
    ivaua said:
    Guys, seriously!? Paying money for existing macOS X functionality. I am strongly recommending to try Automator which is supplied together with every Mac...
    Because I have no interest in learning Automator. And, I have been writing code for 30+ years.
    $20 is nothing for a useful piece of software.
    I am not a coder and never being one. There is nothing to learn. It is drag and drop interface. You seem to mistake Apple Script with Automator…
    There's definitely something to learn. You're really missing the point if you believe that a free app like NameChanger is easier to the average person than Automator. The average person doesn't want to build and test their own goddamn app. They simply want one that has been built, testing, and is working already.
    First of all, I'm not aiming this at anybody in particular, regardless of the quote. On with the show!
     
    There are a series of lines, when you look at applications and their uses. There are full-on coders, who just whip something up to meet their needs. There are terminal wizards who can do just abut anything they want in the terminal. There's users of AppleScript and Automator, who can do the same.

    Where 99% of the users fall is in the fourth category. That base wants to find an app that can do what they want to do. Yes, this includes things that can be coded, done in Automator or AppleScript, or can be done in the Terminal.

    Once more for the back row. We love our readers, of all skill levels. But, to assume that the vocal AI reader is the same as the rest of the Apple-using population and has the same needs is foolish and wrong. AppleInsider is for everybody. Just because somebody CAN whip up something in Automator, doesn't mean that every user ever wants to do so -- or is even capable of it.

    Suggesting that users are dumb because they want to use an app instead of a process that you like is elitist, and frankly one of the reasons why Mac users get a bad rap. There are many ways to get to the same end -- please don't belittle people who choose a different route than you.
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 15 of 20
    ivauaivaua Posts: 4member
    I'm happy that I've managed to create a real discussion here :smiley: 

    I have just one thing to say... Sure thing, everyone have its own skill level and ability of learn, but I was able to teach how to use Automator people "scared of technology" 
    within few minutes. You'd better post a QUICK tip how to use Automator for different purposes. And I'm insisting to stop putting Automator in line with AppleScript and Terminal, yeah lets put Xcode together with Automator... Just saying... Mike, you can ban me out of this forum after this post, it will be very funny to post for the first time here since 1998 and being banned right away  :wink: 

  • Reply 16 of 20
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,687member
    ivaua said:
    I'm happy that I've managed to create a real discussion here
    You didn't. You jacked the thread by claiming that apps are pointless if Automator can technically be used to mimic some of the same features. You even got the site administrator to mediate your ridiculous assertion.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,345administrator
    ivaua said:
    I'm happy that I've managed to create a real discussion here :smiley: 

    I have just one thing to say... Sure thing, everyone have its own skill level and ability of learn, but I was able to teach how to use Automator people "scared of technology" within few minutes. You'd better post a QUICK tip how to use Automator for different purposes. And I'm insisting to stop putting Automator in line with AppleScript and Terminal, yeah lets put Xcode together with Automator... Just saying... Mike, you can ban me out of this forum after this post, it will be very funny to post for the first time here since 1998 and being banned right away  :wink: 

    There's no reason to ban -- but that said, I don't think you're getting the point. That, and you're not in a position to "insist" anything, or tell us that we'd "better post" something.

    We have an Automator posts in the hopper. But, it's still not for the "app only" crowd -- and they don't deserve to be denigrated.
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Donna McMasterDonna McMaster Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I've been using ABFR for at least 9 years. (That's when I imported my ABFR serial number from Yojimbo to 1Password.) I don't use it often, but each time I do it saves me 10-30 really tedious minutes. I love it. I studied Computer Science in college, have been a programmer since 1980 and a Mac user since 1984, so I'm able to figure out other tools. But why bother when for a modest price I have a tool that's quick and easy to use, and does everything I need it to do? By the way, the sledgehammer analogy doesn't really work for me. It's more like trading a screwdriver for a highly flexible power drill with lots of attachments. More power! 
    edited April 2018 hmurchison
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Steveyg777Steveyg777 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    hi guys. can people recommend really good music filename renaming patterns that i could use to organise my music library please? I'd like to have music in folders for artists and albums (with the year prefixed) and a useful filename (can you do complex renaming so if it is part of a multidisc album or compilation it renames accordingly otherwise it is a simpler filename?
  • Reply 20 of 20
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,227member
    hi guys. can people recommend really good music filename renaming patterns that i could use to organise my music library please? I'd like to have music in folders for artists and albums (with the year prefixed) and a useful filename (can you do complex renaming so if it is part of a multidisc album or compilation it renames accordingly otherwise it is a simpler filename?
    Check out Yate from 2ManyRobots.   It's deep but the file renaming options and tagging are very powerful. 
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