3 ways to re-isolate files in Windows

Thanks to our growing collections of digital files, it’s a nightmare when you want to rename a set of files to make them easier to find. Naming dozens or hundreds of similar files one by one takes forever. Fortunately, there are several much easier ways to re-separate files in Windows to save time and avoid headaches.

Although I will include a few third-party tool suggestions at the end, you will usually not need to install any additional software. Use the built-in Windows tools instead.

Using File Explorer

Using File Manager to name a batch of files in Windows is usually the easiest way. To rename files in batches, just select all the files you want to rename and press the button F2 (Alternatively, right-click and select Rename), and then type the desired name in the first file. Press Enter to rename all other selected files.

For example, I had a list of images that I wanted to change from the default date naming convention to something easier to read. In this case, January 2021. This method appends the sequence numbers in parentheses next to each file name. It’s a great way to keep similar files together, like a project, photos from a trip, or whatever.

Renaming files with File Explorer is easy, but this method is only basic and not very flexible, for example you cannot change file extensions (.html) and cannot restrict or modify Windows to add numbers, etc. For more advanced functions we need to use the command line and Windows PowerShell.

Using a command prompt

If you only want to name extensions batches in Windows, the command line is a great tool. You can also rename the files. Let’s start by changing extensions.

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Initially, you could quickly access the command line option through the File menu in Windows Explorer, but Windows 10 eventually removed this option. There are still other ways to access the command prompt.

1. Press to open a command prompt Win + R, type “cmd” and press OK.

2. When the Command Prompt window opens, you need to change the directory to the folder where your files are located. You can type the full path or open a folder in Windows Explorer. Right-click on the path above the file list and select “Copy Address”.

You can then copy it to a command prompt. Before you write or copy anything, write cd then the location of the path.

If you’re having trouble copying and pasting, you may need to change the settings to enable the copy and paste feature at a command prompt.

Type the following command with the desired file extensions:

In my case, I change the extension from the .jpg file to the .png format. Note that this does not actually change the file type, just the extension.

If you want a batch to rename filenames, it’s a similar process. However, if the file names contain multiple characters, you may receive an error for duplicate files. To ensure that this does not happen, use wildcards as question marks so that you can preserve the unique part of the original name.

In the example, all files begin with the number 01. Some files share up to ten characters.

After you change the command line directory to the folder that contains your files, type the following:

Give as much? as the characters you need. If you want a space in your filename, type the filename in quotation marks, for example, “???” Filename.jpg ”. If you want a new filename first, use wildcards after the filename, such as Filename ????. In my case, I would use:

This method can be tricky. If not all files initially have the same file name length, only some of the files will change.

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Using Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is much more powerful than the regular command line and is also easy to use, although the two are a bit similar. To extract files in Windows with PowerShell, all you need are a few simple commands.

Open the folder where your files are located in Windows Explorer. Open the file and select “Open Windows PowerShell.”

With PowerShell open, use the command below. When using the command, be sure to replace “TestName” with the desired file name and use the correct file extension.

The above command takes all the files from the directory and forwards them Rename-Item a command that renames all files to “TestName *”. Here, * stands for numbers, and these numbers are determined recursively using “$ x”. This allows each file to have a unique name.

To change the file extensions of all the files in the directory, use the command below.

The above command takes all files with a .jpg extension in the directory and converts them to .png format.

For more information about the Rename-Item command, read Microsoft Documentation more definitions and examples.

Which of the above methods do you prefer? Sure, PowerShell can be superior for beginners, but it’s fun to work with once you’ve gained some experience. You can even remove these annoying pre-installed applications.

Hope this helps, but share your thoughts and other ways to manually rename files in batches. You may also want to learn how to create symbolic links to files for quick access. If you also plan to transfer files at once in File Explorer, check out these easy ways to copy large amounts of files quickly.

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