Emacs: Rename Files Interactively by Pattern (regex; wdired)

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This pages shows you how to rename multiple files in emacs. You can rename multiple files by find/replace, or by regex, in batch style or case-by-case.


go to the dir first, by calling dired. 〔➤ Emacs: File Management (dired tutorial)

When in dired, call wdired-change-to-wdired-mode. Then, just edit the file names. When done, type【Ctrl+c Ctrl+c】 to commit the changes. 【Ctrl+c Ctrl+k】 to abort the rename.

While in wdired mode, you can edit the file names by find/replace: call query-replace or call query-replace-regexp. 〔➤ emacs's Find/Replace commands

The rest of this page gives you some detail and alternative methods.

Rename by Editing File Names

KeyCommand NamePurpose
Ctrl+x Ctrl+q】 (emacs 23.1)wdired-change-to-wdired-modeStart rename by editing
Ctrl+c Ctrl+cwdired-finish-editCommit changes
Ctrl+c Escwdired-abort-changesAbort changes

This feature is also listed under the menu 〖Immediate ▸ Edit File Names〗. This menu is available only when you are in dired.

Rename by Regex

While in wdired, you can edit the list of file names by emacs's find/replace commands. For example, call query-replaceAlt+%】 or call query-replace-regexpCtrl+Alt+%】. 〔➤ Emacs: Find/Replace Tutorial

Warning: Emacs 22 Bug: Renaming to Existing File Name

There is a bug in emacs 22. (bug#394) If you rename 2 files by exchanging their names, one of the file will get deleted. This is fixed in emacs 23, but i would be still careful if you rename many files that have existing names.

When renaming files to existing names, best to rename them to something else (such as adding a “x” in front), commit, and rename again.


A older method to rename files in batch is by the command dired-do-rename-regexp% R】.

dired-do-rename-regexp is not as convenient as wdired.

Note: emacs's regex is not based on Perl's regex engine. For a summary and common patterns, see: Emacs Regex.

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