I need to rename the following:




How do I make it happen with just one simple line of terminal command?


3 Answers 3


The solution to the above example, using rename:

rename -v -n 's/file_\d{1,3}/upl/' file_*.png


rename [options] [Perl regex search/replace expression] [files]

From man rename:

   -v, --verbose
           Verbose: print names of files successfully renamed.
   -n, --no-act
           No Action: show what files would have been renamed.

rename MAY take regex as the arguments.

What we are looking at is the content between the single quotes '. You can place regex separated by /.

Formula: s/(1)/(2)/ where (1) = search pattern, and (2) = replace pattern.

So, familiarize youself with regex, and enjoy pattern based batch file renaming!

  • 16
    I know this is Ubuntu, but if anyone ends up here even though they were looking for an OS X solution (I did), rename is easily installed with brew install rename.
    – sandstrom
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 13:41
  • In Ubuntu 18.10, the --no-act flag is --nono instead. This answer could also be a bit more explicit: [files] refers to an initial pattern matching files in the current directory that one wants to potentially rename (e.g., * matches everything, but only in the current directory). Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 20:46
  • Your link points to another rename, which has format rename from to file and does not support regular expressions. Actually, my Linux distribution (Cent OS 7) has exactly that version.
    – Alex Che
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 15:26
  • For my sys no-action is "--nono" : rename --verbose --nono 's/ /_/' * => show final names of files after space would be replaced with underscore in current directory, for all files (*)
    – jave.web
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 14:43
  • apparently, my rename from util-linux 2.37.2 on Ubuntu 21.04 does not support this
    – m02ph3u5
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 15:47

This can be done with little magic of bash parameter expansion!

for f in file_[0-9]*_*; do mv $f upl_${f#file_[0-9]*_}; done

file_[0-9]*_*; - First pattern is used to go trough all files that begin with 'file_anynumber_'
${f#file_[0-9]*_} - The second pattern file_[0-9]*_ is used in parameter expansion which tells bash to remove 'file_anynumber_' from the begging of the string.

For more information on Parameter expansion:

man bash
  • Note that this uses globs, not regex, so [0-9]* will match one digit followed by any string. There's probably a better way to match just numbers, but I can't think of anything succinct.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 17:49
  • Would you also be able to suggest a way to have this command work recursively in all subdirectories? Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 9:46

if files are in severals directories, use rename after a find like :

find -iname file_*.png -type f -exec rename -n 's/file_[0-9]{3}(.*\.png)/upl$1/' {} \;

the -n after rename is to test, remove it to proceed !-)

like this, you associate find and rename power.

Personally, I used it to rename sources header .h to .hpp

find -iname *.h -type f -exec rename 's/(.*\.)h/$1hpp/' {} \;
  • There's documentation for the -iname, -type, and -exec flags at manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/bionic/man1/find.1.html#expression. (find --help isn't particularly helpful for this command.) TL;DR: -iname matches a pattern case‐insensitively; -type f matches “regular files”; and -exec executes an expression until it encounters a ; (semicolon) character. Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 20:39

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