Whether you are working with music files you have ripped or otherwise acquired, organizing your digital photo collection, or almost any other type of file, the problem of having to rename large numbers of files is one that we all face from time to time.
Rather than manually renaming your photos so they are more easily identifiable, or renaming individual music tracks one by one, you can turn to FiRE – the File Renaming Engine – to do the hard work for you.
Windows does enable you to select a series of files and rename them all at once, but the results are unlikely to be quite what you were hoping for. FiRE, on the other hand, is a highly advanced application that can be used to rename files based on rules you specify, and you can make things as simple or as complicated as you like – or need.
Playing With FiRE
FiRE is a free tool and you can download yourself a copy from its Google project page. Click the Downloads link at the top of the page and then click the FiRE v1.0.zip link. Click the download link, save the file to the folder of your choice and then use your preferred compression tool to extract the contents of the zip file.
FiRE is a portable app so there’s no need for installation – just open up the folder you have extracted and then launch the executable. You can now start the process of renaming files so that everything matching whatever naming system you have decided to use.
Start by clicking the Browse button to the upper right of the program window and then navigate to the folder containing the files you would like to work with. The right hand side of the FiRE window is divided into two columns. One shows the original name of a file and the other shows what it will be renamed to once rules have been created; to start with, both columns will be identical.
Creating Renaming Rules
As you can see from the image above, I have ripped a CD and the tracks have been name somewhat oddly – seeing bands referred to as ‘Bandname, The’ rather than ‘The Bandname’ is a pet peeve of mine – but this is something that FiRE can fix fairly quickly.
In the toolbar there are five buttons – click the third one to create a new Match/Replace rule. You are able to make things pretty complicated here, using a combination of regular expressions to pick out the parts of a name you are unhappy with and replacing them with the words, letters, number and symbols of your choice.
Here I’ve created an incredibly basic rule that replaces the unwanted ‘Smiths, The’ in the original filenames with ‘The Smiths’ – the changes are immediately shown in the right hand side of the program window. You can also use the options in the Capitalization section to the left to change the case of words in filenames in a variety of ways. When you’re happy with the settings you’ve chosen, hit the Apply Changes button.
Numbering Your Files
This type of file renaming is not the only option that is available in FiRE. You can also use the program to create number lists to help keep your files arranged in a meaningful way – it’s a helpful way to organize files you have transferred from your camera after a photo session.
To rename files in this way, click the fourth toolbar button and use the Browse button to select the folder containing the files you want to rename. Use the options to the left to choose whether numbering should be ascending or descending and then choose between the three different styles of numbering.
To help make file sets easier to identify, you can use the ‘Separate with’ box to add text of your choice to each file name, and you can also opt to add numbers to the start to end of a filename – again, a preview of changes is shown to the right so you know exactly what to expect.
Manage Your Music
One of the most useful features of FiRE is its ability to rename files based on metadata. In practice this means that music files can be automatically named in whatever way you like based on the tags that are already built into the files.
Click the final toolbar button to create a new Metadata Rule and browse to a folder containing MP3s you need to rename. From the list of Metadata Tags to the left, select the tags you would like to use as a basis for your filenames, clicking Add after each one.
If you need a separator, add a Plain Text tag which you can then edit, and use the Up and Down buttons to the lower right to change the order in which tags appear in filenames. Assuming tags have been correctly assigned to files, this is an excellent way to give your music collection a meaningful set of titles.
One thing to remember is that any of the rules you create – whether it is a replacement rule, a list or a metadata based one – can be saved so that you can use it in future on a different folder full of files. Just click the Save button in the toolbar and you can then create a *.frr file that can be recalled at any time you need it.
FiRE is such a versatile tool it’s easy to think up countless uses for it. Whether you are an outrageously organized person looking for a tool to help make things a little easier, or someone whose files are chaotic in need of help automating your filing system, there’s something here for you.