Adding Text to Filenames

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Today’s Question: I have a series of pictures that I imported into Lightroom with a name I’d like to change. If possible, I’d like to keep some components of the name (especially the date), but would like to change the first part of the filename. Is that possible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can add text to the beginning of the existing filename in Lightroom, but you can’t pick and choose among elements of the existing filename to keep or change.

More Detail: Adobe Bridge actually includes the ability to perform something of a “search and replace” when renaming photos. Lightroom doesn’t provide quite that degree of sophistication, but you can most certainly retain the existing filename as part of a new filename when renaming photos in Lightroom.

The first step is to select the images you want to rename. While in the Library module, you can then choose Library > Rename Photos from the menu to bring up the Rename Photos dialog. From the File Naming popup you can choose “Edit” to bring up the Filename Template Editor dialog, where you can specify the structure to be used for renaming your photos.

Since you want to retain the original filename, I would start by choosing “Original Filename” from the Preset popup at the top of the Filename Template Editor dialog.

You can then add additional elements to the filename structure. You might select among the various metadata values that are available on the different popup controls, for example. Or you might simply click the “Insert” button associated with the Custom Text label so you can enter your own text to place at the beginning of the filename. When a new token is added, you can drag it to a new position as needed. In this case, for example, you would want to place your additional elements before the “Original Filename” token.

If you want to add text (such as a dash to separate your new elements from the original filename) you can do so in the textbox. First click within the large textbox below the Example filename, and use the arrow keys on the keyboard as needed to place the insertion point in the desired position. For example, in this case you may want the flashing insertion point to be between the additional elements (such as a “Custom Text” token and the “Original filename” token. You can then type any text or characters that you want to use as part of the file-naming template.

You can reference the Example shown above the large textbox where you are defining the filename structure in order to confirm you have achieved the desired result. If you want to be able to use this same template in the future, you’ll want to save it. To do so, click the Preset popup at the top of the Filename Template Editor dialog and choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” from the popup. In the dialog that appears, enter a name for the new preset and click the “Create” button.

Then click the “Done” button to close the Filename Template Editor dialog. In the Rename Photos dialog, if you included a Custom Text token as part of your template, you can enter the desired text in the Custom Text field. Then click OK to apply the renaming to the selected photos.

So, while it is possible to append text before or after the original filename for photos you are renaming in Lightroom, you’re not able to pick and choose the portions of filenames while renaming the way you can in Adobe Bridge.