by Julieanne Kost

 Comments (49)


March 8, 2011

When renaming files, there are many options so my best advice would be to simply choose what works best for you and then be consistent. For example, if you like to rename files  based on your client name, you might select Custom Text in the Filename Template Editor and then a sequence number. Typically I add an underscore between the two as I find it more legible.

Smith_001.dng Smith_002.dng Smith_003.dng

If you prefer to include the date in your file name, choose from one of the many options and Lightroom will automatically fill in the date of the image from the camera’s EXIF data (just make sure that you have set the correct date on your camera!). Many photographers don’t find it necessary to include the date as it is a parameter that can be filtered in the Grid view at any time.

20110105_001.dng 20110105_002.dng 20110105_003.dng

I also know several photographers who want to keep the original File Number Suffix (the original number that comes out of the camera but without the extra letters) so they choose the File Number Suffix token and include their own additions such as Custom Text or Sequence number. Of course you can always add the sequence (or any of the other tokens) in any order.

8365_Smith_001 8366_Smith_002 8367_Smith_003

Note: renaming the files in Lightroom renames the files on the hard drive (as well as in the catalog).




  • By -S - 6:01 PM on March 8, 2011  

    I would love to see a plain, simple renaming function, just like the one we use in a Windows Explorer for example. When I click on a photo, then select “Rename”, a dialog pops up asking me to choose a File Naming scheme/pattern, etc. I love the file naming patterns, I use them extensively to Import/Export, but it’s a bit overkill to rename one file. From that dialog I have to choose “Custom Name”, and type a whole filename. Usually I just want to adjust the filename, alter parts of it. In Window Explorer, pressing F2 for example let’s you edit a filename directly. Would be nice to be able to do just that.

  • By Julieanne Kost - 6:22 PM on March 8, 2011  

    If you only want to rename a single file, it might be easier to edit the file name using the Metadata panel in the Library module?

    • By Josh - 10:56 AM on January 24, 2012  

      This is what I was looking for too! Thanks! However, I do have one complaint. When I click on that field, it highlights the entire field, including the file extension. That leaves me with 3 choices, none of which are desirable: 1 – lose the extension (bad idea); 2 – retype the extension (annoying to do every time); 3 – some fiddly combination of some of the following: clicking, dragging, arrow keys, backspace, and delete (even worse than retyping it every time). PLEASE, change that field to only highlight the part of the file name before the extension (.ORF, in my case).

      • By Julieanne Kost - 6:45 PM on January 24, 2012  

        Great suggestion. I think many photographers would benefit form it. COuld you post it to the LR4 Beta forums so that the proper people see it?

  • By -S - 7:28 PM on March 8, 2011  

    This is embarrassing. I’ve used LR for 2 years, and I never thought about doing that from the Metadata panel. Thanks a lot.

  • By Julieanne Kost - 6:45 AM on March 10, 2011  

    Ahhh, maybe we should be embarrassed as we didn’t make it obvious enough for our customers!!!

  • By Anthony Leong - 7:21 PM on March 20, 2011  

    Hi. Mine’s probably a little more esoteric, but I’m shooting both RAW & JPG together (Nikon) & after import & editing, I wanted to rename the files. LR3 doesn’t seem to allow renaming of the identical files so the RAW & the JPG attached to it have the same name & number sequentially. I note Adobe Bridge allows this, so is there any way in LR3 I can do this?

    I don’t think the metadata panel can help in this one!


    • By shilpa - 1:40 AM on August 23, 2012  

      I am having the same frustrating problem. I want JPG to have same filename as its RAW file. I used to do this batch renaming in bridge and it would automatically do this. Lightroom doesn’t seem to have this feature. How do i rename 400 RAW and their corresponding JPGs together?

  • By Yani - 10:25 PM on September 24, 2011  


    you can use metadata panel to rename multiple and identical name (different extension)

    Select files you wish to rename, then choose available template for renaming. you might also create custom template as you like. it’s the same template used when exporting file from the camera.

    good luck…

  • By Lou - 2:47 PM on November 12, 2011  

    I wish I could find a way to rename leaving the camera file name first and my addition following. this way I can keep similar images from a shoot together in the folder by number rather than according to title. Is there a way to do this in batches in LR??

  • By Lou - 2:53 PM on November 12, 2011  


    Right now I Batch rename in Bridge and reimport them tin LR. I want to have the same process options in LR. Is it possible?

  • By Robin - 3:22 PM on January 29, 2012  


    I am already using LR 3.0 and circumstance require that I revise my file naming method.

    I started off with a format that ended up being far too complicated and realized that all I needed was the following format: the date (Yr/Mo/Day), description, and camera file number .

    How do I rename all the files I have in my catalog so the naming protocol is consistent?

    Thank-you for your help.

    ~ Robin

  • By Nick - 1:33 PM on February 28, 2012  

    I have a very hard to explain question about the exporting and file naming process. I hope this makes some kind of sense.

    I work for a company that deals with a lot of animal images, andI need to name the files in a very particular way. I purchased lightroom thinking it would make my life a lot easier. It seems like it should work too, but it doesn’t. I need to export images with file names that contain the name of the species of animal in the photo (common name and scientific), the ID# number that we use for the animal, the photographers name, the photographers ID#, and a short caption. Each of these variables needs to be separated by something that would never show up in any of the variables. I use “=”. The file names should look something like this:

    Common Name=Scientific name=our-ID#=Photographers Name=Photographers ID#=caption.jpg

    This is a real image file name:

    Azure Bluet=Houstonia caerulea=11-1131-359=K. P. McFarland=KPM-3489=in field.jpg

    I have added each of these variables to specific metadata fields, with the intention of using the export and file renaming feature to do this for me. If I have done a half way decent job of explaining myself, this should all sound perfectly reasonable. The problem is when I do this the file names come out slightly different. I cant even paste the file name into this comment box and post it. There are apparently funky or illegal characters in the file names that you can’t really see. If I type it out though it looks something like this:

    Azure Bluet=Houstonia caerulea=11-1131-359=K. P. McFarland=KPM-3489=in field.jpg

    this is what it looks like if I copy the file name and paste it into Microsoft Word:

    Azure Bluet?Houstonia caerulea?11-1131-359?K? P? McFarland?KPM-3489?in field.jpg

    I realize it doesn’t look that much different, but whatever is going on here is a really big deal to me. The one thing that you can see, is that there is a large space after each . in the photographers name. This doesn’t happen to the guy who recommended this program to me, and we cant figure it out for the life of us. When he does it on his computer, all is well. If I have to use something other than “=” I’m fine with that, but a lot of our photographers prefer not to use there full name, so I need to use the . Since it works fine on my friends computer, I dont think that I should have to. We both have the same iMac, and we both have the same version of Lightroom. What am I doing wrong?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 1:43 PM on March 1, 2012  

      Can it be due to your setting under Preferences > File Handling > File name generation? Maybe you friend has customized these settings?

  • By Nick - 1:48 PM on February 28, 2012  

    Now that I posted that comment, I dont see the large spaces after the periods that I typed in. Apparently once you post your comment the code corrects any extra spaces. The spaces after the period are huge in the file name produced by Lightroom.

  • By Matthew - 6:10 PM on March 27, 2012  

    I would loooove to just have plain simple
    Custom File Name – Original File NAME
    Not, Custom File Name – Origina File Number!

    I shoot film, and number every single roll and shot.
    For example, Roll 150, shot 12, would be= R150S012

    But when I want to add custom text infront of the file name, Lightroom cuts off the “R150S” part and just leaves me with “Custom Name – 012”, it is soo annoying.
    I cant figure out any way around it.
    Any ideas?

  • By DG - 9:32 PM on April 5, 2012  

    I know there must be a way – I just can’t see it. I don’t want dashes after my photos but parentheses. Otherwise the new version 20120404-1.jpg will appear after 20120404.nef.

    I like your videos.

  • By Bobster - 9:08 AM on April 11, 2012  

    I am using the “Rename Photo” function in the “Library” menu to batch change photo filenames. I use the “Custom Name – Sequence” option. I need to start my sequence number at “01” or “001” but Lightroom ignores the zeros and starts at “1”. This works fine in Lightroom for a “Sort on Filename”. But other programs (such as Shutterfly) sort “12” ahead of “2” (for example). How can I solve this problem?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 10:43 AM on April 11, 2012  

      Edit the template and set the Sequence option to an option that is greater than one number.

  • By Julieanne Kost - 10:46 AM on April 11, 2012  

    Here is a video that might help as well:
    It was recorded a little while ago, so some of the interface might have changed, but the concept is still the same.

  • By Bobster - 1:07 PM on April 11, 2012  

    I found the video after the post. It was just what I needed. Thanks a lot.

  • By Nelson - 9:59 PM on April 15, 2012  

    Thanks much for your excellent video tutorials, they have been highly useful in getting me up the Lightroom learning curve.

    When exporting photos is it possible to include the output image size in the name. I don’t mean the original or cropped image dimension, which I see is available via metadata, but output size as set by the Image Sizing section of the export dialog.

    For example the original image size might be 3468×2736 px, but I output it at 1024×768 px. I want the latter in the file name. Possible? Thanks!

    • By Julieanne Kost - 1:29 PM on April 16, 2012  

      I don’t believe that there is a way to do this, but I would try posting your question to either of the sites below. Perhaps someone knows of a plug-in that does this…

      • By Nelson - 8:04 PM on April 17, 2012  

        Thanks for taking the time to reply Julieanne. Appreciated. Will look into the forums you suggest.

        For now I just put these photos in another directory but would prefer to have them together.

  • By Walter vom Saal - 4:50 PM on May 1, 2012  

    Thanks for your very helpful comments. I also took a long time to discover that a single file could be renamed by just changing its name in the metadata panel.

    Question: when I rename a file, the Metadata panel shows “File Name” and Original File Name.” When I select Export and select “File Naming: Rename To: ~add suffix to existing name:” Lightroom renames based on the original file name, not the modified name. I don’t want that. I renamed my file as I want it, and now want to export it to another location as a resized file, and my habit is to add ” – resized” to the file name so I know it’s not an original. How can I get Lightroom to use the revised filename on export, not the original filename? Thanks for your help.

  • By Walter vom Saal - 4:58 PM on May 1, 2012  

    A note for other readers of this thread: When Lightroom does not offer enough renaming options, I use a wonderful program called Better File Rename that offers tons of options for batch renaming. Unfortunately, this only works well if I rename before I import the photos to Lightroom; if the photos have already been imported they are lost after the external renaming.

  • By Sue - 3:04 PM on May 29, 2012  

    After changing the original name in Lightroom, how do you find the original file if it goes missing ?

  • By John - 9:18 PM on June 8, 2012  

    I second this question Sue, it is very straightforward in Adobe Bridge ie a check box that says preserve original filename in XMP metadata. If I have multiple photographers I want to know who shot what after I rename them without having to guess or do a lot of investigating.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 10:31 AM on June 11, 2012  

      Lightroom automatically saves the original name in the metadata of the file. In the Metadata panel, (in the header area where you can choose from a number of different ways to display the panel), choose the “EXIF and IPTC” or “Location” layout and you will see the “Original Filename” filed.

  • By jane legate - 4:14 AM on June 9, 2012  

    Am I imagining it or did Julieanne say on a video somewhere that she added a code to the file name to indicate what processes she had added? eg V for vignette, C for crop etc……..??? Can anyone tell me where the video is that shows this? Thx!

    • By Julieanne Kost - 10:27 AM on June 9, 2012  

      When I choose Edit In > Photoshop, I set my External Editing Preferences for “Edit ExternallyFile Naming” to add an _ME to the original file name so that I know it’s my “Master Edited” File. I hope that’s what you were referring to.

  • By jane legate - 2:52 PM on June 9, 2012  

    No I think it was Lightroom and there was a list of abbreviations which went after the file name: JKOST 3478 V,C,PP etc…..???
    Hope I am not going completely bonkers here……

  • By Brenda Jobe - 12:18 PM on July 8, 2012  

    I sometimes photograph a wedding with a second photographer. When I download all the images onto my hard drive, I save them in different folders to keep our images separate. When I import each folder into LR, I rename each folder’s images with his initials in the custom naming section. When we each have multiple memory cards, I make sure the second cards have a “2” after the “IMG” section to not replicate file numbers. Here’s the rub: after processing the images in LR and saving them into additional folders for the parts of the wedding, how can I make sure the newlyweds can view their images in sequential order within each sub-folder? If I try to re-import the exported jgs in each subfolder, LR won’t let me so that I could select and arrange by time taken. Plus, I’d want to rename all the images after they are re-ordered by time. Can you help?

    • By Julieanne Kost - 11:29 AM on July 10, 2012  

      Can you try renaming the images with a sequence number at the beginning of the file name?

  • By Susan - 11:37 AM on July 24, 2012  

    I am trying to find out if I remane individual file with things like beach chairs,dinner etc. will lightroom 3 show me where these files are placed if I put them in a different folder then I started in. will it also change the one with the original name in the original folder? Iwant to know the new name & where it is if I am using lightroom for organizing in subject matter.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 5:10 PM on July 25, 2012  

      If you have already imported images into Lightroom, you should rename them within Lightroom and move them within Lightroom.

  • By andy - 7:35 AM on August 25, 2012  

    is it possible to just rename a part of a file? For example I have names all my sons photos noah1_sequence#Andy.dng for his first year, for his second year i meant to change it to noah2_sequence#Andy.dng. Is it possible to swap the 1 for a 2 without changing the sequence numbers (I have deleted half the photos at least so the numbers would be changed). thanks!

    • By Julieanne Kost - 11:37 AM on August 28, 2012  

      Hi Andy, yes, you can fix this. Create a new file naming template that has two options: Custom Text and File Number Suffix.
      In the Custom Text you will add noah2_
      The File Number Suffix will retain the original sequence number.

  • By Thomas - 7:41 AM on October 6, 2012  

    I have created a sequence in Library, rename. I applied it to two photos. For example beach1, beach2. Later I found another photo that belongs to the sequence. Do I have to remember which number I was at in order to rename this as beach3 or is there a way to set up the tokens, so that I can add to a sequence that already exists, and just increase the file number. By the way, this was a simplified version of the issue I am having. In reality, I am going through an old catalog of images that are very random, and trying to organize them. Thanks for all of your very helpful advice and videos.

    • By Julieanne Kost - 3:01 PM on October 10, 2012  

      You have to tell Lightroom what number to start on. It won’t remember what was the last number in the when the preset was last applied. It’s a good request – you might want to post it here:

  • By Mickey - 5:26 PM on October 31, 2012  

    Im still using lr2 but have renaming issues , everytime I try to rename a large batch of files it stops after 100 files and tells me it can’t rename the files

    Is there something set that I need to reset?

    thank you

  • By Scott A. Berger, M.D. - 6:30 PM on December 10, 2012  

    Hi Julianne, I watched the video (with bated breath) up until the very end at about 13:05 minutes, at which time, the video ended abruptly, before it explained the ending. Is there anyway to see it somewhere else, as well get your video explanation to externally edited re- naming files in LR 4? I am trying to arrive at a reasonable convention which will tell me in LR what processes I have performed in PS CS6 so I will where the photo is at? Thank you and keep up the great teaching.


    • By Julieanne Kost - 3:19 PM on December 11, 2012  

      I think that the video is only 13:05 minutes. I don’t do a very good wrap up, but I think that’s all there is. As for how to rename your files, this might be helpful:
      From the number of comments on that post, it looks like I should really update the content. I will add it to my list…

  • By Eli - 11:10 AM on April 24, 2013  

    Is there way to remove the dash preceeding the sequence number? I’m asking because after I rename images in export with a sequence number and then try to run n automated batch process in photoshop, the first one processed is -nn01 then nn011, etch. If I remove the dash manually in explorer, then I get the correct process sequence.