Simon Dirmeier Simon Dirmeier -4 years ago 143
Perl Question

Rename multiple files from command line

Possible Duplicate:

Renaming lots of files in Linux according to a pattern

I have multiple files in this format:


My question is how can I rename all files, that look like this:


I know you can rename multiple files with 'rename', but I don't know how to do this in this case.

Answer Source

You can do this using the Perl tool rename from the shell prompt. (There are other tools with the same name which may or may not be able to do this, so be careful.)

rename 's/(\d+)/sprintf("%03d", $1)/e' *.pdf

If you want to do a dry run to make sure you don't clobber any files, add the -n switch to the command.


If you run the following command (linux)

$ file $(readlink -f $(type -p rename))

and you have a result like

.../rename: Perl script, ASCII text executable

then this seems to be the right tool =)

This seems to be the default rename command on Ubuntu.

To make it the default on Debian and derivative like Ubuntu :

sudo update-alternatives --set rename /path/to/rename


  • s/// is the base substitution expression : s/to_replace/replaced/, check perldoc perlre
  • (\d+) capture with () at least one integer : \d or more : + in $1
  • sprintf("%03d", $1) sprintf is like printf, but not used to print but to format a string with the same syntax. %03d is for zero padding, and $1 is the captured string. Check perldoc -f sprintf
  • the later perl's function is permited because of the e modifier at the end of the expression
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