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How To Batch Rename Files in Command Line: Removing Timestamp and Adding Suffix

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In this article, we will delve into the process of batch renaming files in the command line. This is a common task that system administrators and users often need to perform to organize files more efficiently. Specifically, we will focus on removing timestamps from file names and adding a suffix.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to batch rename files in the command line by removing timestamps and adding a suffix. You can use the rename command with Perl expressions or write a bash script to achieve this. Another approach is to use a combination of find, xargs, sed, and mv.

Introduction to Batch Renaming

Batch renaming is the process of renaming multiple files in one go, rather than renaming each file individually. This can be a huge time saver when dealing with large numbers of files. There are many reasons why you might want to batch rename files, such as to remove timestamps from file names, add a suffix, or simply to make filenames more descriptive.

Prerequisites

Before we start, ensure that you have access to a terminal on your system. This could be a Linux terminal, Mac Terminal, or Windows Command Prompt. This article assumes a basic understanding of command line usage.

Using the rename Command

The rename command is a powerful tool for batch renaming files. It uses Perl expressions to determine how to rename files.

Here’s an example of how you might use rename to remove a timestamp and add a suffix to a file:

rename -n 's/^([0-9]+\.[0-9]\.[0-9]+\.[0-9]+_[0-9]+_)([0-9]+)_([0-9]+)_([0-9]+)\.jpg/$1$2$3$4_SUFFIX\.jpg/' *

In this command, -n is a flag that tells rename to do a dry run. This means it will show you what changes it would make, without actually renaming any files. This is a good way to check that your command will do what you expect before you run it for real.

The argument to rename is a Perl expression. This expression is divided into two parts, separated by the / character. The first part is a regular expression that matches the filenames you want to rename. The second part is the new name for the files.

Using a Bash Script

If you’re more comfortable with scripting, you can write a bash script to batch rename your files. Here’s an example:

#!/bin/bash
for f in *.jpg; do
 firsthalf=${f%_*_*_*}
 lasthalf=${f#*_*_}
 lasthalf=${lasthalf//_/}
 ext=${lasthalf##*.}
 lasthalf=${lasthalf%.*}
 mv "$f" "${firsthalf}_${lasthalf}_SUFFIX.${ext}"
done

In this script, we’re using a for loop to iterate over all the .jpg files in the current directory. For each file, we’re using parameter expansion to extract the parts of the filename we’re interested in. We then use the mv command to rename the file.

Using find, xargs, sed, and mv

Another approach to batch renaming is to use a combination of find, xargs, sed, and mv. Here’s an example:

find . -name "*.jpg" -print0 | sort -z | xargs -0 sh -c 'for filename; do mv "$filename" $(echo "${filename}" | sed "s/\([0-9]\{8\}\)_\([0-9]\{6\}\)_\([0-9]\{4\}\)/\1\2\3_SUFFIX/g"); done' sh

In this command, find is used to find all the .jpg files in the current directory. The -print0 option tells find to print the filenames separated by null bytes, which allows us to handle filenames with spaces or special characters.

The sort -z command sorts the filenames. The -z option tells sort to expect null-separated input, which matches the output from find -print0.

The xargs -0 command reads the sorted filenames and passes them to sh -c, which runs a shell command for each filename. The sed command is used to modify the filename, and mv is used to rename the file.

Conclusion

Batch renaming files in the command line can seem intimidating at first, but with a bit of practice, it can become a powerful tool in your arsenal. Remember to always test your commands with a small subset of files or use the -n flag with rename to do a dry run before you rename large numbers of files.

For more information on the commands used in this article, you can refer to their man pages by typing man <command> in the terminal, where <command> is the name of the command you want to learn more about.

What is batch renaming?

Batch renaming is the process of renaming multiple files at once, rather than renaming them individually. It allows you to automate the renaming process and save time when dealing with a large number of files.

Why would I need to batch rename files?

There are several reasons why you might need to batch rename files. Some common scenarios include removing timestamps from file names, adding a suffix or prefix to file names, organizing files into specific folders, or making file names more descriptive for better organization.

What is the `rename` command used for?

The rename command is a powerful tool for batch renaming files in the command line. It uses Perl expressions to determine how to rename files. You can specify a pattern to match the files you want to rename and provide a new name or modify the existing name using regular expressions.

How can I remove timestamps from file names using the `rename` command?

To remove timestamps from file names using the rename command, you can use a regular expression pattern that matches the timestamp and replace it with an empty string. For example, if your file names have a timestamp in the format "YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS", you can use the pattern s/[0-9]{8}_[0-9]{6}// to remove it.

Can I use a bash script to batch rename files?

Yes, you can use a bash script to batch rename files. By writing a script, you have more flexibility in customizing the renaming process. You can use loops, conditionals, and various string manipulation techniques to rename files based on your requirements.

What is the purpose of the `-n` flag with the `rename` command?

The -n flag with the rename command is used for a dry run. When you use the -n flag, rename will show you what changes it would make without actually renaming any files. It allows you to preview the renaming operation before executing it, ensuring that your command behaves as expected.

Is it possible to rename files with spaces or special characters using the `find`, `xargs`, `sed`, and `mv` combination?

Yes, it is possible to rename files with spaces or special characters using the find, xargs, sed, and mv combination. By using the -print0 option with find and the -0 option with xargs, the filenames are separated by null bytes, which allows handling of filenames with spaces or special characters correctly.

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