Please advice what is wrong with the following command

find /tmp/dir -name "* *" -type f | rename 's/*/fixed_/g'

remark - I prefer to do that with one command not loop syntax

What I want is to rename all the files under /tmp/dir , by adding the name fixed_ before each file

For example ( the files )


Should rename to:

  • Does your find command even give output? It is perfectly find to omit -name here.
    – Bernhard
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 7:56
  • 3
    I get from the output - call: rename from to files... ( but files not renamed ) Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 7:59

3 Answers 3


Temporary note: there is something wrong - the rename pattern does not handle filenames with path; I'm working on a fix

What is wrong in your command is two things:

find /tmp/dir -name "* *" -type f | rename 's/*/fixed_/g'

  • The -name "* *" matches only file names with a space in it - that's not what you want, right?

    • the solution is to just leave it out; We do not want to exclude files matching some name - we want all.
  • The rename pattern is wrong in two ways

    • you used a shell glob pattern, but it needs to be a regular expression, in short a regex (It can be some general perl expression - let's ignore it and use only s///g)
    • the fixed pattern would match the complete name, and replace it with fixed_. You want to "replace" the "first 0 characters" with fixed_, technically. That's the start of the line, matched with ^. We can leave out the g because there is only one replacement needed per line.

Putting it together, it looks like this:

find /tmp/dir -type f | rename 's/^/fixed_/'

  • +1 for the (overdue) rename 's/^/fixed_/' "correction". The OP clearly has a * in the regex which is indeed highly unsafe, as whenever one wants something to get prepended (like the "fixed_" in this example), one must use /^/ not /*/. Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 12:31
  • A post to guide you with Perl's rename: unix.stackexchange.com/a/727288/12574 Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 21:48

It seems your system features the older version of rename that doesn't use regular expressions. You can rename your files with

cd /tmp/dir/
for f in *\ * ; do
    [[ -f $f ]] && mv "$f" fixed_"$f"


For the rename command with regex support, you have to change the regular expression: * needs something to operate on, it means "repeat the previous thing zero or more times". You don't want to replace anything, you want to prepend, so use ^ which stands for the beginning of the string:

rename 's/^/fixed_/'

If anyone's interested in a zsh solution

 cd /tmp/dir
 for f (*(.)) mv $f fixed_$f

where (.) means files only

A simpler case

 for f (*.txt) mv $f fixed_$f

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