Teaching an old Finder new tricks: batch rename and Quick Look

When you use the Finder day in and day out, it’s easy to miss significant new features. Here are a couple which appeared way back in Yosemite, nearly three years ago, which might come in handy.

Batch rename

Select multiple items (files, folders, or a mixture of both) and bring up the contextual (shortcut) menu using Control-click (or your favourite gesture).


In that menu, select the Rename [x] Items… command, where [x] tells you how many items are selected.


This opens the Rename Finder Items pane in the current Finder window. The first option in its top pop-up menu is to Replace Text in the names. Enter values for the sub-string to be found, and what to replace it with, using the example as a guide. This is the option to use if you want to change the extension, say to rename a batch of .txt files to .xml.


Instead, you can add fixed text before or after the name (always before the extension), using the Add Text option in the popup menu.


The third option, Format, is the most useful and most complex. This is particularly aimed at creating a folder of still images which are to be turned into a slide show or movie, for example, and require names with an index or serial number. You can also use it to incorporate the current date and time into each name. Sadly it cannot incorporate each file’s date and time of creation into its name, which might have been even more useful for some.

Once you’re happy with your settings, click on Rename to apply your scheme.

Batch Quick Look

Another valuable addition to the Finder’s contextual menu is the ability to preview a group of files using Quick Look, in the Quick Look [x] Items command, where [x] is the number of items selected. You can also use the normal Quick Look shortcut instead: select the files, and press the Spacebar key.


This shows a floating window in which each file in turn is previewed. Navigate through the series using the back and forward buttons at the top left of the floating window. When you want to look at any in more detail, click on the Full Screen button at the top of the window, or the Open with Preview button at the top right.


If you click on the Sheet View button at the upper left of the floating window, to the right of the forward button, the floating window will show you all the items in a graphical index sheet, in which you can select individual items to inspect.

If you have instead been using regular Finder windows to step through smaller previews of images, you may find this a much more flexible and efficient tool.