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rename − file rename tool


rename OldName NewName

rename [options] files ...


This rename is a quick and powerful tool for upcasing, lowcasing filenames or substituting substring in filenames, which can be specified with a regular expression pattern. Unlike other rename tools written in script language, this one is written in C so it runs fast.


−l, −−lowcase

Lowcase specified filenames.

−u, −−upcase

Upcase specified filenames.

−R, −−recursive

Perform on the specified files and all subdirectories.

−t, −−test

Do not change filenames, just test the result of substituting.

−o, −−owner OWNER

When changing filenames, it changes the owner of filenames to OWNER. This funtion not works only when renaming filename, but works individually just like a file owner changer. (superuser only)

−v, −−verbose

verbose display.


confirm all prompts with YES.


confirm all prompts with NO.


Substitute PATTERN with STRING in filenames. sw is the following switch:


replace all occurrences in the filename.


ignore case when searching.


backward searching and substituting. This does not support regular expression.


change filenames’ suffix. In this case, the PATTERN should be some kind of filename suffix.


declare that PATTERN is a regular expression.


declare that PATTERN is an extended regular expression.


This section about extended regular expression is digisted from the manpage of fgrep(1). See it for details.

A regular expression is a pattern that describes a set of strings. Regular expressions are constructed analogously to arithmetic expressions, by using various operators to combine smaller expressions.

The fundamental building blocks are the regular expressions that match a single character. Most characters, including all letters and digits, are regular expressions that match themselves. Any metacharacter with special meaning may be quoted by preceding it with a backslash.

A list of characters enclosed by [ and ] matches any single character in that list; if the first character of the list is the caret ˆ then it matches any character not in the list. For example, the regular expression [0123456789] matches any single digit. A range of ASCII characters may be specified by giving the first and last characters, separated by a hyphen. Finally, certain named classes of characters are predefined. Their names are self explanatory, and they are [:alnum:], [:alpha:], [:cntrl:], [:digit:], [:graph:], [:lower:], [:print:], [:punct:], [:space:], [:upper:], and [:xdigit:]. For example, [[:alnum:]] means [0-9A-Za-z], except the latter form is dependent upon the ASCII character encoding, whereas the former is portable. (Note that the brackets in these class names are part of the symbolic names, and must be included in addition to the brackets delimiting the bracket list.) Most metacharacters lose their special meaning inside lists. To include a literal ] place it first in the list. Similarly, to include a literal ˆ place it anywhere but first. Finally, to include a literal place it last.

The period . matches any single character. The symbol \w is a synonym for [[:alnum:]] and \W is a synonym for [ˆ[:alnum]].

The caret ˆ and the dollar sign $ are metacharacters that respectively match the empty string at the beginning and end of a line. The symbols \< and \> respectively match the empty string at the beginning and end of a word. The symbol \b matches the empty string at the edge of a word, and \B matches the empty string provided it’s not at the edge of a word.

A regular expression may be followed by one of several repetition operators:


The preceding item is optional and matched at most once.


The preceding item will be matched zero or more times.


The preceding item will be matched one or more times.


The preceding item is matched exactly n times.


The preceding item is matched n or more times.


The preceding item is optional and is matched at most m times.


The preceding item is matched at least n times, but not more than m times.

Two regular expressions may be concatenated; the resulting regular expression matches any string formed by concatenating two substrings that respectively match the concatenated subexpressions.

Two regular expressions may be joined by the infix operator |; the resulting regular expression matches any string matching either subexpression.

Repetition takes precedence over concatenation, which in turn takes precedence over alternation. A whole subexpression may be enclosed in parentheses to override these precedence rules.

The backreference \n, where n is a single digit, matches the substring previously matched by the nth parenthesized subexpression of the regular expression.

In basic regular expressions the metacharacters ?, +, {, |, (, and ) lose their special meaning; instead use the backslashed versions \?, \+, \{, \|, \(, and \).


mv(1), chown(1), regex(7), regex(3)


Copyright 1999 - 2001 Xu, Ming

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Please send bug reports to <xuming@bigfoot.com>


rename foo food

Change file ’foo’ to ’food’, just like mv(1) does.

rename -lR *

To lowcase all filenames, directories and filenames and directories under subdirectories.

rename -s/abc/xyz/gi *.c

Substitute all ’abc’ substrings appeared in C sources files with ’xyz’, ignoring case.

rename -vs/.c/.cpp/s *.c

Change C sources suffix to C++ sources suffix, with verbose information.

rename -s/abc/12345/bi *

Find the last occurrence of ’abc’ and replace it with ’12345’, ignoring case.

rename -o guest -R /home/custom

change the owner of the file ’/home/custom’ to ’guest’. The ’guest’ should be an effective user in the current system. If ’/home/custom’ is a directory, all files in this directory tree will hand to ’guest’.

rename -s/ˆ[A-Z].*file/nofile/r *

The target substring starts with a capital letter, and ends with string ’file’. There are 0 or any numbers of characters between the capital letter and ’file’. The substring, if encountered in filenames, will be replaced with ’nofile’.

rename -s/ˆ[A-Z].+file/nofile/eg *

Similar to last example, except it uses extended regular expression, such as the ’+’ metacharacter, and replaces all matching strings with ’nofile’.