A Better Finder Rename

Developer: Frank Reiff/Publicspace

Price: $20

Renamer is a batch file renaming app for macOS that allows you to rename lots of files quickly and conveniently. Commercial $ $ $ Mac Batch processing Support for regular expressions File Renaming Search and replace Add a feature 6 Like. A Better Finder Rename is a flexible and convenient tool for renaming files and keeping your computer organized. It offers all of the options you need to customize your file names fully, and it. Version 11 of A Better Finder Rename offers two mechanisms for automatically applying frequently used rename settings to files via simple drag & drop. If you have previously saved your settings into a preset, you can rename files by simply dragging them onto the closed application icon. A Better Finder Rename’s huge array of renaming options is organized into 15 intuitive categories that cover all the text, character, position, conversion and truncation features that you would expect from a great file renamer. How would I copy (archive style where date isn't changed) all the files in a backup directory to the user's directory while renaming each file to remove the random string portion from the name (i.e.

Requirements: Mac OS X 10.3. Universal.

Trial: Fully-featured (only permits 10 files to be renamed at once).

A Better Finder Rename (ABFR) is one of the staple utilities known by mostevery long-time Macintosh user. A perfect tool for expertly managingfilenames, its large selection of conditions for choosing and modifyingportions of filenames (or the entire name) makes it a must-have for anyonewho is the least bit concerned about file organization on their computer.

There’s almost no end to the possibilities of renaming actions.

The last time ATPM looked at A Better Finder Rename, it was April 1999and version 1.7 had justbeen released. To me, even those early versions seem powerful enough tohold their own against popular utilities of today. Yet, ABFR just keepsgetting better, offering increasingly creative ways to both isolateexactly which files you wish to rename and to specify exactly how torename them.


Fast-forward to November 2005, and ABFR 7.0 has undergone a completerewrite as a Cocoa application. One of its most anticipated new featuresis the ability to combine several rename actions into a single step.

ABFR’s multi-step rename feature, shown in the left drawer, is atime-saving addition that means you’ll never again have to invokemultiple renaming sessions. Clickto enlarge.

Version 7.3 came with an alternative to the multi-step feature, whichshould be of benefit for paranoid types who would rather do just onestep at a time. There’s now an Apply button to perform a rename actionand remain in the ABFR application, permitting you to immediately set upa new action.

The instant preview window has also seen big improvement. It can now bedetached and resized from the default drawer configuration, and you candrag and drop additional files from the Finder, adding them to therenaming session. Curiously, even though there is a button to removeitems from the preview window, you cannot drag them away in the samemanner that you can drag them in. Poof, anyone?

A better finder attributes

A prior version of ABFR added the ability to work with MP3 and AAC audiofiles. If your audio files are properly tagged with ID3 information,ABFR can extract that information for renaming functions. For example,when iTunes is managing your library automatically, the filenames areusually just the song titles, which are inside a folder that is namedfor the album. Those album folders live inside yet another folder whichis named for the artist. Suppose you want to copy a handful of songsfrom various albums to your Desktop, then burn them to a CD with nofolder structure. ABFR can read the ID3 tags to give all the song filesa name such as Artist_Album_Song.mp3. You can choose one ofthe filename presets or build your own.

ABFR can also look at date and time information from the EXIF data indigital photos and add it to filenames, or create numbered filenamelists based on this data. Support for Adobe’s Digital Negative (DNG)format and experimental support of two new RAW formats when used underOS X 10.4 was added early this year.

A Better Finder Rename Tutorial


Geeks…uh, I mean, power users…will appreciate the support of regularexpressions. Let’s be honest here—you either know how to use regularexpressions or you don’t. Since I don’t, the best I can do is suggestyou take a look at what ABFR’s Web page says about it.

Another boon to advanced users is the ability to choose one of four waysin which the technical act of renaming is performed. The default “Ultra-safe Finder mode” is thesetting to leave for most circumstances. Other modes include Cocoa mode,which is much faster for huge renaming actions, and Unicode mode, whichuses the Carbon APIs.

Finally, ABFR features tools for creating time-saving workflows. Thesimplest workflow function is to create a droplet upon which you canrepeatedly drag files to perform common rename actions. Advanced userscan set up standardized names in another application such as BBEdit orMicrosoft Excel, export them to a text file (plain or tab-delimited),and use these lists to manage batch file renaming.

ABFR is solid and reliable. Even the safe rename mode is very quick.It’s had a long time to mature into the indispensable tool it has provenitself to be. If you had asked me ten years ago if the first versions ofABFR could be any better, I’d probably have answered, “I don’t see how.It’s already amazing.” Yet, Publicspace has continually proven there’salways something that can be better. There’s probably already a goodlist of rename action improvements and additions of which I wouldn’thave dreamed. That said, I do have two thoughts on usability.

A Better File Rename

If you’re using both the multi-step drawer and the instant previewdrawer at the same time, the interface is awfully wide. Sure, you candrag these drawers closer, but they then become a bit too narrow to beuseful, especially the preview drawer. As stated earlier, you can detachthe preview drawer and move it elsewhere, though I happen to likedrawers and the ability to keep an application’s interface tiedtogether. Perhaps an optional setting to have the preview drawer comeout the bottom instead of the right side is worth consideration.

My other thought concerns the menu of rename actions, seen in the firstscreen shot above. While I am definitely not accusing ABFR of featurebloat, it can sometimes take a moment to scan through the list to findwhat I’m looking for. As you can see in the screen shot, the action menulist is nearly as tall as the entire vertical resolution of my TitaniumPowerBook.

The solution may be something I’ve not even considered, but ideas thatcome to mind include the introduction of some hierarchy in the actionmenu and/or pruning preferences so that the list isn’t populated withactions for which some users may never need.

While these two issues are a hit against usability, neither affectsfunctionality in any way. The multi-step drawer usually isn’t needed anddoesn’t have to be out, and there is at least a small bit of grouping inthe action list. A Better Finder Rename is definitely a tool that canbenefit anyone.

Copyright © 2006 Lee Bennett, [email protected] Reviewing in ATPMis open to anyone. If you’re interested, write to us [email protected]

At a glance


Our Verdict

If you deal with lots of files (and who doesn’t?), chances are you’ve occasionally run into problems with their names. Say you’ve got a series of image files with less-than-descriptive titles (such as IMG00001.jpg, IMG00002.jpg, and so on)—you’d like to rename them in a more useful, more descriptive, manner. The trick is to find a way to do so without manually renaming each file, one at a time.

There are a bunch of batch-renaming utilities out there that make such chores simpler: You give the app a selection of files, and then tell it to rename all of them at once, using some kind of pattern (for example, “Add Summer vacation photos 2013 to the beginning of each file’s name”). Many of these utilities are relatively inexpensive apps, such as File Rename Pro ($7), Rename ($4), and Rename It ($3), that provide relatively basic services. But there are also a few more-advanced (and more-expensive) tools designed for those who need power beyond what such basic apps provide.


We’ve reviewed one of those advanced tools, Many Tricks’s Name Mangler. But another, comparable, program deserves some recognition, too: the awkwardly titled but nicely designed A Better Finder Rename ($20; Mac App Store link—note that the Mac App Store version is called Better Rename 9).

Like Name Mangler, A Better Finder Rename (let’s just call it ABFR from now on) arranges its renaming options in groups:

  • Text (add or insert text at a specific spot in the original filename; remove, replace, or move text)
  • Characters (replace or remove specified characters; keep only specific characters; remove trailing spaces; remove vowels)
  • Character position and ranges (remove a number of characters from the beginning or end, or in a specific range)
  • Conversions (convert to lowercase, uppercase, title case, sentence case, or camel case; remove diacriticals; convert to Mac OS 9 names; make names Windows NTFS/SMB compatible)
  • Truncate (to a certain number of chars, or to the old 8.3 format)
  • Sequencing (add some kind of sequential data, such as image1, image2, and so on, to file names; to create the file order, you can sort by name, modification date, creation date, size, and other factors)
  • Alphabetical sequences (add said sequences at the beginning or end, before or after existing text, or at a particular position)
  • Add Roman numerals
  • Rename with date or time
  • Image dimensions
  • MP3/AAC tags
  • Parent folder name
  • Path components (you specify how many levels of parent folders show up in the new name)
  • Tags (you choose from among a huge number of file, image, camera, and date metadata)
  • Advanced (rename from a name list in a file; replace or rearrange using regular expressions; completely rename)

Also, like Name Mangler, ABFR lets you create “droplets”—little mini-apps that perform particular saved sets of renaming actions whenever you drop files on them—as well as save renaming actions as presets for later use. And like Name Mangler, ABFR lets you create sequences of renaming actions, so you could, say, add a number to the front of the name and then replace a string of text at the end in one fell swoop. More critically, both apps let you use regular expressions to find and replace text—a great tool for power users.

A Better Finder Attributes

There are, however, some significant differences between the two programs. For example, when naming files sequentially, ABFR lets you sort twice (say, by creation date then by name); Name Mangler offers only single-pass sorting. When replacing text in a bunch of file or folder names, ABFR lets you specify which instance of a given string (the first, second, third, and so on) you want to look for. ABFR has options for removing vowels and trailing spaces, and though you could do the same in Name Mangler using regular expressions, ABFR makes it a bit easier. ABFR also makes it easier to remove characters by referencing existing text (for example, “the three zeroes that appear after IMG”), rather than just by position in the name. And ABFR provides a few more options when it comes to changing the case of a file or folder name: Expand CamelCase, Remove Diacriticals, Convert to Valid Mac OS 9 Name, and Make File Names Windows NTFS/SMB Compatible.

On the other hand, Name Mangler makes available a greater range of metadata for use in your new file names. You can, for example, incorporate a file’s Spotlight comments or tags as part of the name; ABFR’s metadata support is limited to things such as camera data and MP3 tags. Name Mangler also offers a nice history function, so you can look up and use previous operations.

A Better Finder Rename Mac

More generally, Name Mangler’s interface (like its name) is more succinct than ABFR’s. ABFR just comes out and says, in comparatively plain English, what it’s going to do: Add MP3/AAC tags to end, for example, rather than Name Mangler’s somewhat more cryptic (if flexible) Compose option.

A Better Finder Rename 11

If you rename files a lot, and don’t mind learning Name Mangler’s ins and outs, it may be the better choice for you; and its Compose function, which makes a huge range of metadata available for naming purposes, does make it a more flexible, powerful tool. If you’re an occasional user, however, who still needs a powerful tool, ABFR’s forthrightness might work better for you.

A Better Finder Rename 11

Want to find out about more cool Mac apps? Check out our Mac Gems session at Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco March 27-29. Want to stay up to date with the latest Gems? You can follow Mac Gems on Twitter or on App.net. You can also subscribe to the Mac Gems RSS feed.