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1-4a Rename is a versatile batch renamer

23 June 2015, Mike Williams

1-4a RenameRenaming one file on a PC is easy. A whole folder full? That’s more of a challenge. Explorer can’t help, and even turning to the command line doesn’t give you very much.

1-4a Rename is a free, portable batch renaming tool which aims to change all that. It’s old, and the interface is a mess, but if you need real renaming power then it might be worth a try.

Browse to the folder containing your target files, and the program gives you a few options to explore. You’re able to change case, replace, insert or append text, or add leading digits, and any of these tweaks can be applied to the file name, the extension, or both.

1-4a Rename

The interface is a nightmare, but it does at least show you the effect of every selection as you click

A built-in macro scheme gives you all kinds of options. Insert the text <s> and it’ll be replaced by the file size; <f> the folder name; <##> the file number; and there are various other codes to represent dates, times, subsets of the current file name, and more.

But if you really want to see what it can do, just press F2 to toggle “Expert Mode” on. The interface immediately floods with lists and checkboxes – 1-4a Rename doesn’t hide any of its options, they’re all visible at once – but if you can figure out what’s going on then there’s plenty to explore.

There are options to trim leading numbers, for instance, like track numbers from a CD. To replace hex values with the appropriate letter (%20 becomes a space). To swap parts of a file name (Thriller – Jackson.mp3 > Jackson – Thriller.mp3). To shorten file names in a range of ways: removing leading, trailing or double spaces, stripping out spaces between letters, removing vowels, double letters and more.

You also get much more flexibility for the regular replace tools. Instead of just replacing all incidences of “this” with “that”, for example, you might replace matching case only, where it matches the whole word, only after the nTh occurrence, and only one time.

It’s not always easy to figure out what this will do, but fortunately 1-4a Rename displays both the current file name, and a preview of the new one which updates as you select new options. You don’t have to click the Start button until you’re happy, and even then, if something goes wrong, clicking “Undo…” will restore the files to their original names.

1-4a Rename is available now for Windows 95 and later.

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