In the Tools menu, Batch Rename (see Figure 6-29) is the command used to change the names of files, often a “batch” of files. For the purposes of organizing, searching for, and locating the image(s) you want, it’s useful to develop a naming convention that will aid in your efforts.
As shown in Figure 6-29, the Batch Rename dialog box lets you select various criteria to include in a new filename. In the example shown, it’s simply a text string followed by a three-digit sequence number, a standard approach when grouping a series of images for some purpose. You’ll notice at the end of the New Filenames line there are plus and minus buttons. These buttons are used to add or delete categories. You can add up to ten separate renaming categories, as shown in Figure 6-30.
In this example, we’ve added all ten of the New Filenames categories—not something we’d recommend you do, but it is possible. Ideally, you should keep the filenames to a minimum. Also, make sure you stick to a straight alphanumeric naming convention and avoid adding special characters.
For each of the main categories there will be various options—for text strings, you can have a text entry box, and for other items, you can have dropdown menus. Consider these choices carefully (see Figure 6-31).
While Batch Rename gives you a lot of options, it doesn’t offer a text string replace function—we sincerely wish it did. You should also watch out for this serious gotcha: Batch Rename does allow you to change the file extension, but you should be careful since doing so could make the file unreadable by both Mac and Windows systems. It would be OK to change a .tiff extension to .tif, but you cannot change a TIF file to a JPEG simply by changing the extension from .tif to .jpg.
The inclusion of EXIF metadata as a naming component is intriguing, but the most potentially useful piece of metadata, Date Time Digitized, should be treated with some caution. The option looks in the metadata for the DateTimeOriginal property. If it’s not present, it looks for DateTimeDigitized. If that isn’t present either, the feature uses the IPTC DateCreated property. It’s possible for these three dates and times to be different, so test this option carefully and make sure you understand its behavior with your raw files before using it on live jobs—see Chapter 8, Mastering Metadata, for further discussion.
Figure 6-32 shows the Options section of the Batch Rename dialog box. The options include the following:
Preserve Current Filename in XMP Metadata
This option lets you add a custom metadata tag containing the filename. If you’ve already applied Camera Raw settings before renaming, you can skip this option because the Camera Raw settings metadata already contains the original filename. However, if you’re renaming otherwise-untouched raw files and you want the original filename to be retrievable, it’s a good idea to check this option.
On today’s computers, filenames can be longer than in the past (the old limit for Macs was 31 characters including the extension; for DOS, it was eight characters plus the extension). But there is a 256-character limit (including the extension) for current Mac and Windows filenames. Names that long combined with long pathnames can cause problems moving files to and from servers and in running Batch operations.
A safer maximum is 128 characters, but even that may become unreadable in applications and be truncated (usually by dropping off middle parts of names). You should also be careful to make sure you don’t include spaces in the names of files intended for a Web server, as many will replace a space with the % sign. Dashes (-) or underscores ( _ ) are acceptable. When in doubt, check all three options.
The Renaming Preview shows you a real-world example of how the renaming options will look using the filename of the first image selected.