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Mass Rename Files Inside Linux / Mac Directory Using Loop

Created On: 14 September 2022
Written by: Ben

First change directory to the one containing the files you wish to bulk rename:

cd /Users/tony/Downloads/Mexico/

Example of files inside of a directory:

tony@Tonys-MacBook-Air Mexico % ls -1
122 - Mexico - 45674856477658.jpg
123 - Mexico - 75934757979557.jpg
124 - Mexico - 75385739579753.jpg
125 - Mexico - 39579375938789.jpg
126 - Mexico - 73473957397593.jpg
127 - Mexico - 43749375937998.jpg
128 - Mexico - 49374937593999.jpg
129 - Mexico - 94375973583958.jpg

We are looking to remove everything but the unique string and the file extension at the end.

For example "125 - Mexico - 39579375938789.jpg" would turn into "39579375938789.jpg".

Lets try return a list of our files with a find command (from inside the directory with the files):

find . -type f -name '*.jpg'

The list appears correctly now pipe into while loop with:

find . -type f -name '*.jpg' | while read FILE ; do
newfile="$(echo ${FILE} | sed 's/^[^-]* - //' | sed 's/^[^-]* - //')" ;
mv "${FILE}" "${newfile}" ;

After the above is run all the files will be renamed to my desired format. This is particularly useful if there are 100's of files.


  • find = Look for something on Linux
    • . = Look inside current directory
    • -type f = Look just for files and ignore directories
    • -name '*.jpg' = Look for files matching wildcard *.jpg
  • FILE = Self declared variable. Could be anything you wish but is always equal to the command previous to it in the example above.
  • sed 's/^[^-]* - //' = Removes anything before a "-" this helps me get my desired output name inside of created variable newfile. There are two dashes thats why I run it twice.


  • Depending on your original files naming convention you may need to change the sed argument applied to the newfile variable to something that gives you the desired output name.
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