Renaming for Sort Order


Today’s Question: I have a folder of images that I want to keep in their present order. Is there an automatic way I can add a prefix number that will keep the order? I have both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can easily rename the batch of photos, such as by adding a numeric prefix, so the photos will be in your custom sort order when you sort by filename.

More Detail: Renaming photos to add a sequence number at the beginning is easy to do in Adobe Bridge, which is available to anyone with an Adobe ID, even if you don’t have a paid Creative Cloud subscription. Note that Lightroom Classic users can use a similar approach to that outlined below for Adobe Bridge by using the Library > Rename Photos command.

In Adobe Bridge you would first navigate to the folder containing the images and drag the thumbnails into the desired order on the Content panel. The Content panel is set to a large size in the Light Table workspace, for example, which you can switch to by choosing Window > Workspace > Light Table from the menu.

You can then select all the photos and choose Tools > Batch Rename from the menu to bring up the Batch Rename dialog. Set the Destination Folder to “Rename in Same Folder”. Then under the New Filename heading, set the first popup to “Sequence Number”, enter the starting value (presumably “1”) in the textbox to the right, and specify the number of digits from the last popup based on how many images you’re renaming. You want to have leading zeros in the sequence numbers so that the photos will sort properly by filename. So you would only need one digit if you have no more than nine photos to rename, two digits for up to 99 images, and three digits for up to 999 images, for example.

If there isn’t another row of criteria already, you can click the plus button to the right of the row that you just updated. If you want to have a dash or space separating the sequence number from the rest of the filename you can set the first popup on the second row to Text, and then enter the desired text in the textbox to the right.

On the next row (adding it with the plus button if needed) you can set the first popup to “Current Filename” and the second popup to “Name + Extension”. If there are any additional rows you can click the minus button to the right of them to remove them.

Once you’ve defined the structure for the renaming of the photos, click the Rename button, and the photos will be renamed accordingly. When you sort the photos by filename, they will therefore be sorted in your custom sort order.