I have a directory full of images:


And I would like a one-liner to rename them to (say).


How do I do this?

  • 8
    This is one of the top Unix command line FAQs, and I can't find it on this site already, so should we make this Community Wiki? Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 0:08
  • 6
    I don't see why. It's a specific question with a verifiable answer. Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 0:45
  • 3
    If you're running X it doesn't get much easier than thunar -B *.png for thunar's bulk-rename gui tool.
    – dotjoe
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 21:26
  • @dotjoe Thunar is not common to all X-based desktop environments. It would be better to say, "If you're running Xfce, it doesn't..." or "If you've installed Thunar, it doesn't..."
    – chb
    Commented Feb 19 at 4:53

14 Answers 14


On Debian and derivatives, Perl's rename commandline works similarly to sed like this:

  rename -v 's/image//' ./*.png

There's also the rename from util-linux that works like this, instead:

  rename -- image '' *.png
  • 13
    you really should explain that this is a perl programm that might have to be installed and that it takes regular expressions as the argument.
    – user601
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 0:30
  • Ah, I was not aware of that. I'll give credit to the canonical answer, when I identify it :) Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 0:33
  • 6
    This rename program came from a Perl examples distribution. Debian and Ubuntu ship it as /usr/bin/rename. Other Unix variants may not provide it, or may provide a completely different /usr/bin/rename. Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 7:17
  • 2
    Some versions of rename take a from to replacement pattern: rename [options] <expression> <replacement> <file>...
    – melds
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 18:42
  • 1
    If you are using a Debian based system then sudo apt-get install rename, then you can use the rename command. It is sed for filenames. Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 17:20

If you are using Bash or other POSIX-compatible shell:

for f in *.png; do
    mv -- "$f" "${f#image}"
  • 2
    This is one of the parameter substitution methods shown in Mendel Coopers Advanced Bash-scripting guide tldp.org/LDP/abs/html
    – W_Whalley
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:15
  • 3
    @W_Whalley I strongly recommend avoiding that guide, in favor of the Wooledge Bash Guide.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:55
  • @Wildcard: what are your reasons for recommending to avoid the ABS guide? Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 11:27
  • 1
    @ChristianSeverin promotion of bad practices and outright broken code. Check links on my profile page.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 16:20
  • 3
    If you don't know how to adapt this example for different file patterns, you might want to have a look at the Parameter Expansion Section of the guide mentioned above.
    – lex82
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 21:50

The zsh shell has a powerful batch rename command called zmv.

First you need to enable the zmv command as follows (this can go into your ~/.zshrc).

autoload zmv

The basic syntax is zmv PATTERN REPLACEMENT. The pattern is a shell glob expression. Parts of the pattern can be surrounded by parentheses. The replacement text can contain $1, $2, etc. to refer to the Nth parenthesised group in the pattern. For example:

zmv 'image(*.png)' '$1'

You can also ask zsh to automatically define $1, $2, etc. to match the wildcard characters in the pattern:

zmv -w 'image*.png' '$1.png'
  • Really cool, as pointed in zmv's man this can be further simplified by adding alias mmv='noglob zmv -W' to: mmv *.c.orig orig/*.c
    – Bretsko
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 16:10
  • Enabling zmv prezto requires uncommenting the line in your ~/.zpreztorc following # Set the Zsh functions to load (man zshcontrib). giving zstyle ':prezto:load' zfunction 'zargs' 'zmv'
    – user26947
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 21:51
  • 1
    For those who, (like me) rarely need to rename files, you don't need to put autoload zmv in your ~/.zshrc: you can also just run it whenever you need zmv.
    – Niek
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 8:08

I normally use the nice and simple mmv (man page) utility for this usecase:

$ mmv "image*.png" "#1.png"

will perform your task.

The #1 in the target pattern will be substituted with whatever matches the wildcard in the source pattern. This also works for several wildcards and can be used for example to change the order of parts of filenames. You can also easily do more complicated things like converting lower case to upper case letters.

Make sure to protect the patterns from the shell by quoting.



The command qmv from renameutils opens an editor showing a list of filenames with two colums, separated by a tab. Each row shows one of the filenames, the same in both columns. The right column is representing the new names of the files.
To make changes, edit the names on the right side. In this example, :%s/... or visual block mode are helpful.

Filenames in your editor

$ qmv *.png

In editor:

image0001.png           image0001.png
image0002.png           image0002.png
image0003.png           image0003.png         
"/tmp/user/1000/qmvxWyVMs" 3L, 93C

Edit names in right column:
(Removing the image prefix from all lines using visual block mode)

image0001.png           0001.png
image0002.png           0002.png
image0003.png           0003.png         

Log of renaming:

image0001.png -> 0001.png
image0002.png -> 0002.png
image0003.png -> 0003.png

(e.g. Ubuntu: apt-get install renameutils)


POSIX sh for loop

Uses sed to rename

for i in image*.png
  mv -i -- "$i" "$(printf '%s\n' "$i" | sed '1s/^image//')"

I like Perl so:

perl -nlE '$old=$_; s/image//; qx(mv $old $_)'

You can also use the same pattern for other tasks like copying the files to another directory:

perl -nlE '$old=$_; s(image)(/path/to/new/dir/); qx(mv $old $_)'
  • 4
    Or (safer!): rename($old,$_) Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 11:57
  • 1
    Yes, calling sh and mv for every file is both inefficient and very dangerous. That code is basically a command injection vulnerability. The list of files would also need to be supplied somehow on perl's stdin, but as it's expected newline-delimited it can't take arbitrary file names. Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 14:56


easy recurse selecting image*png files, and assumes no need to deal with newline, backslash in file names

find . -name "image*.png" | while read f; do mv -v "$f" "$(echo "$f" | sed -e 's/image//' - )"; done
  • Your solution here can't deal with newlines. It also depends on echo not modifying data, which it could do if it contains backslashes under some circumstances.
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 10:16
  • @Kusalananda - Thank you, I have removed incorrect 2nd answer.
    – X Tian
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 17:22

Using a shells that supports brace expansion (Bash, Zsh, Ksh93, Fish, Csh, Tcsh):

for N in {0001..1000}; do mv "{image,}$N.png"; done

Strangely, no one mentioned this well covered approach:

find . | grep \.png$ | sed 'p;s/image//' | xargs -n2 mv

And if you like playing around with arguments:

find . | grep \.png$ | sed "p;s/image//" | xargs -n2 sh -c 'echo $1 $2' $0

Single quotes after sh -c matter

  • Quite a few issues: (1) filenames can be made of several lines so can't be processed line-wise (2) you're not quoting that backslash or $. Should be grep '\.png$'. (3) s/image// removes the first image in the path, so for a ./my-images/image0001.png that would try and do mv ./my-images/image0001.png ./my-s/image0001.png and fail. You'd want to process the list depth first and only do the rename on the basename. Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 15:02
  • (continued) (4) xargs expects the words on input in a very specific format, which sed is not providing here. For instance, if the file paths contain quotes or blanks or backslash, that will fail. (5), echo can't be used for arbitrary data. (6), there are missing quotes around the $0, $1,$2. Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 15:03
  • @StéphaneChazelas feel free to edit my answer if you are willing to; my answer does not cover all the depth-in and many other things, it directly answers the question about one directory containing batch of images; from my perspective this rather simple solution
    – Nick Roz
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 11:51
  • Because of the missing quotes, this \. doesn’t do what you think it does: echo \. prints ., without the backslash. Also, why waste resources piping find into grep when you can use -name?
    – bfontaine
    Commented Mar 11 at 17:54

Try brename (https://github.com/shenwei356/brename), a practical cross-platform command-line tool for safely batch renaming files/directories via regular expression (supporting Windows, Linux and OS X) .

@patrickDurusau said:

Linux has a variety of batch file renaming options but I didn’t see any short-comings in brename that jumped out at me.


  • Cross-platform. Supporting Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Safe. By checking potential conflicts and errors.
  • File filtering. Supporting including and excluding files via regular expression. No need to run commands like find ./ -name "*.html" -exec CMD.
  • Renaming submatch with corresponding value via key-value file.
  • Renaming via ascending integer.
  • Recursively renaming both files and directories.
  • Supporting dry run.
  • Colorful output.


$ brename -f .png -p image
[INFO] checking: [ ok ] 'image0001.png' -> '0001.png'
[INFO] checking: [ ok ] 'image0002.png' -> '0002.png'
[INFO] checking: [ ok ] 'image0003.png' -> '0003.png'
[INFO] 3 path(s) to be renamed
[INFO] renamed: 'image0001.png' -> '0001.png'
[INFO] renamed: 'image0002.png' -> '0002.png'
[INFO] renamed: 'image0003.png' -> '0003.png'
[INFO] 3 path(s) renamed

For Windows and linux, this Perl script will do; in this case:

$ rnm -l 's/^image//' '*.png'

The script could run recursively under directories and even prepending a count to all of them:

$ rnm -r 's/^/$counter./' '/\.png$/'

UTF-8 chars are also correctly treated, both in Windows and linux.

  • rnm was already suggested in 2015 in a separate answer. Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 15:04
  • That's curious: I didn't know about that tool, it's different from the one proposed here: this one has no dependencies, no compilation, and runs on Windows and Linux. Also, I give an example on how to prepend a counter which the other example lacks (I think that other one could do that also but the documentation is fairly big) Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 15:54

POSIX sh using a while loop

Reading names from find command.

find . ! -path . -prune -type f -name 'image*png' |
while IFS= read -r f; do
  mv "$f" "$(printf '%s\n' "$f" | sed -e 's/^\.\/image//' - )"

Reading names from a file

while IFS= read -r f; do
  mv "$f" "$(printf '%s\n' "$f" | sed -e 's/^\.\/image//' - )"
done < flist

Both of these approaches assume pathnames have no embedded newlines.


You can use this tool: rnm (web page)

For your case the command would be:

rnm -rs '/^image//' *.png

You can find more examples/docs here.

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