New open-source Microsoft PowerToys logo for Windows 10

Microsoft is on a roll with Windows 10’s open-source PowerToys. The latest free tool is PowerRename, a bulk renaming tool that will let you rename many files at once right from File Explorer.

To use it, download and install Microsoft’s PowerToys. Launch the PowerToys application and activate the “PowerRename” option on the General Settings page.

Enabling the PowerRename Windows shell extension in PowerToys Settings.

Next, head to File Explorer, right-click multiple files or folders, and select “PowerRename.” If you right-click one or more folders, PowerRename will let you operate on every file inside them as well as the names of the folders themselves.

Bulk renaming files in File Explorer with Microsoft's PowerToy.

PowerRename is pretty simple to use. At the top of the window, type what you want to search for and then what you want to replace it with. You’ll see a preview of what PowerRename will do. If you’re happy with the results, click “Rename.” If you want to avoid renaming a file, uncheck it in the Preview list.

The options section lets you toggle additional options to control how power rename functions, from case sensitivity to whether it operates on just the name or file extension. You can exclude files, folders, or subfolder items. The preview makes it easy to see exactly what these options do.

Using Microsoft's PowerRename batch rename tool.

There’s one nice power-user feature here: “Use Regular Expressions.” These will let you perform more complex search patterns for modifying your file names. The PowerRename documentation offers a few example regular expressions for this tool. Master regular expressions and you can do nearly anything you can imagine with PowerRename.

This feature was added in PowerToys version 0.12.0, released on October 29, 2019. PowerToys already offers a window management tool named FancyZones and a Windows key shortcut guide. More tools will be arriving in the future.

Let’s be honest, other batch rename solutions are lacking: Third-party bulk rename tools are often overly complex and File Explorer’s built-in options are limited. The Command Prompt and PowerShell offer many options, but you have to be adept at the command line to take advantage of them. PowerRename offers a nice user-friendly bulk rename tool, and it’s great to see Microsoft offering it.

RELATED: How to Batch Rename Multiple Files in Windows

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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