I have been trying to figure out how to rename files for the past few hours.

I have 2000 files that are like this:


I would like to rename these files to something like:

  • Didn't you mean bash? – avazula Mar 29 '18 at 15:38
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    @avazula No please read this article : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batch_renaming – Ali Razmdideh Mar 29 '18 at 15:47
  • @PerlDuck yes ;) – Ali Razmdideh Mar 29 '18 at 15:52
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    Possible duplicate of How to easily rename files using command line? – wjandrea Mar 29 '18 at 16:09
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    Hey close voters - do you all really think we only need one question in the [batch-rename] tag? Is there anything in the linked post that actually helps with the task in this question, except the idea of using rename? It seems to me that if a batch renaming question has specific details, we should just provide specific answers to it. – Zanna Mar 31 '18 at 9:41

If you have rename installed, you can use

rename -n 's/(\.\d+)\.pdb$/.pdb$1/' *.pdb   # just watch what WOULD happen
rename    's/(\.\d+)\.pdb$/.pdb$1/' *.pdb   # actually rename the files

The command rename can be installed via

sudo apt install rename

Through mmv (rename multiple files by wildcard patterns) it's mush easy:

mmv '*.*.*' '#1.#3.#2' *.pdb

or zmv of zsh shell; it's a module that allows to do rename; see ZMV-Examples:

zmv -w '*.*.*' '$1.$3.$2' *.pdb
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    Both mmv and zmv seem rather exotic to me. Do you mind elaborating a bit what they are and what they do? – PerlDuck Mar 29 '18 at 18:10
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    I added a links to their manpage and examples. – αғsнιη Mar 29 '18 at 18:36
  • mmv is pretty cool. Seems better-suited to this kind of renaming than rename, albeit being less flexible in terms of name matching. – JAB Mar 30 '18 at 20:11

Using Perl rename:

rename -n 's/(\.\d+)(\.pdb)/$2$1/' *.pdb

Quick explanation:

  • *.pdb Match all files that end with .pdb. (Done by the shell)
  • (\.\d+) Match a literal dot, then one or more decimal digits. The parens create a match group.
  • $2$1 Reverse the first and second match groups.
  • -n No action (simulate). If the output looks good, run the command again without this flag.
  • 1
    LOL. Same thought. You were 48 seconds quicker. – PerlDuck Mar 29 '18 at 16:02
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    @PerlDuck Lol, yeah, same thought. The answers complement quite well too: you cover installation, I cover syntax. – wjandrea Mar 29 '18 at 16:04

You can use this script:

for i in `seq 1 2000`; do
mv file.$i.pdb file.pdb.$i

Or this copy-paste friendly command:

for i in `seq 1 2000`; do mv file.$i.pdb file.pdb.$i; done

For use above commands, put all 2000 files in one folder and then open terminal in that directory, then run above command in it.


Recently nautilus, the default file manager, received a batch rename dialog. It is not yet powerful enough to do what you want. But luckily there is thunar, an alternative file manager that can be installed. With thunars rename dialog you can do what you want using the GUI.

First install thunar:

sudo apt install thunar

Start thunar, navigate to the directory that has your files. Then select all of them. Press F2.

In the dialog that opens, again, select all files. Change mode to "Search & Replace" and to "Name & Suffix". Check "Regular Expression". Now use the following as search and replace patterns:




Finally click the rename button.

The advantage of this way is that you get a visual preview of what will happen before you actually do the renaming.

thunar rename dialog

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    You can make most programs print English messages by prefixing the command with LC_MESSAGES=POSIX, e. g. LC_MESSAGES=POSIX free. Works the same for graphical applications although in the case of persistent applications like Nautilus in its default configuration you need to terminate the previous instance with nautilus -q first. – David Foerster Mar 30 '18 at 16:00
  • @DavidFoerster thanks for mentioning, image replaced. – Sebastian Stark Mar 30 '18 at 22:50

You can use rename from util-linux for this (the command is called rename.ul in ubuntu):

rename.ul .pdb '' *
rename.ul "file." "file.pdb." *

This first removes the .pdb extension from the end and then re-inserts it into the middle.

  • 1
    Pretty cool. I wasn't aware of rename.ul. The syntax is a bit, um, unexpected, but it actually works the way you advertise. Plus: it also has a -n (don't touch, just tell) switch. – PerlDuck Mar 29 '18 at 17:40

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