Renaming Your Image Files

Any picture that you work with should be renamed so that you don't accidentally erase the original. In addition, you may want to assign names that make sense. Use the word “holiday” or “vacation” in the file names, for example. When you do this to dozens of pictures, it can turn into quite a chore unless you know how to do it quickly.

There are a number of ways that you can rename your files, and each method will make it easier to find your photos later. Simple names are easier to understand than coded names, but you can decide which you prefer.

If you have a series of pictures, start by deciding on a general name for that series. A simple name can be Birthday or Vacation, for example. If you want to add a year to identify the vacation, you might make it Vacation09. Then decide on a way to number each picture. Many computer gurus prefer the underscore symbol to separate the name from the number of the picture in the series. So for example, pictures 1 and 2 in a series of fifty pictures about your vacation in 2009 would be Vacation09_01.jpg and Vacation09_02.jpg.

As explained in Appendix C, you should add the extra 0 if your series goes up to 99 and 00 if your series goes up to 999 so that your series will sort correctly.

When you work in your digital darkroom, you will often find that you make several versions for a number of reasons. You might not be sure which version you like best and save both of them, or you might want one picture for one purpose and another picture for another purpose.

When you have several versions of one picture, you can add extra notations to the end of the file name, so that you know what is what. Adding a lower case “a” or “b,” for example, is a good way to indicate this. For example, if you cropped Vacation09_01.jpg, you might name a second file Vacation09_01a.jpg to indicate that you did something additional.

Some people prefer coding as a way to indicate what a picture is about. In this case you could adopt a series of code letters that always mean the same thing such as: V=vacation, B=birthday, C=cookout.

An underscore character is very useful when working with file names. The underscore symbol clearly separates sections of the file name so that it can be read correctly. Computer geeks find it is less confusing than a hyphen, which can have other meanings. For example, Filename_01.jpg = picture file number one; Filename_01_mod.jpg = picture file number one modified.

A cropped picture could be indicated with a “crp” after the full name, so that Vacation09_01a.jpg would now be: V09_01crp.jpg. If you use a coding system, be consistent and keep notes so that when you have not worked with your pictures in months, you can remember your own code.

Renaming a Series of Photos

There will be many times when it would be nice to name a group of pictures in a series. Fortunately, you do not have to rename each one, but can name them with a batch process. A number of image file management programs offer this feature, and there is also a wonderful free utility called Renameit (see Chapter 17) that will rename files in just about any manner you choose. For example, after you made a selection of pictures from your originals, you might want to rename them Cookout_01.jpg, Cookout_02.jpg, etc. With a renaming utility, you can choose a name that you want to use with a set of image files (but don't alter the extension). Then typically the addition of variable symbols will allow you to add a number sequence to the tail end of your new file name.

Let's say you have files that were automatically named by your camera as Abcd1234.jpg and Abcd1235.jpg. To rename them, you would first select the files you want to rename. Then choose Rename and type in the file name you want to call all photos in the batch and add two variable symbols for the sequential numbers (such as ##, symbols that are often used). Many programs also allow you to choose the number for the start of your numbering sequence, such as 01 if you want to start with number one.

Now your dialog box for renumbering your dozens of files looks like this: Cookout_##. All files that you have selected — Abcd1234.jpg, Abcd1235.jpg, and so on — will be renamed Cookout_01.jpg, Cookout_02.jpg, etc.

As with all computer tasks, go back and check that your renaming was successful and also that the pictures are now in the correct order.

Changing the Sort Order

It is important to note that your files will be named in the sequence that they are sorted in your folder. If you want to sort them in a different sequence, you will need to add an extra step. If you put Web sites together or make slideshows or PowerPoint presentations, it is often much easier to have files sorted in sequential order. When your photos are sorted in a series, you simply go to number one first, number two second, and so on, and can stop worrying about what each file is.

If you want files to be in a certain sequence, you can manually go into your file management program and add temporary numbers, so that the files display in the order that you choose. For example, you can go in and manually change the order of any group of files (even ones with different names) by simply adding an 01 or 02 to the beginning of each file name.

For example, if you decide you want to view Abcd_1.jpg after Abcd_ 9.jpg, add a temporary number sequence, such as 01 and 02, to the beginning of the file name, such as 01Abcd_9.jpg, 02Abcd_1.jpg. These will now sort in the order you have chosen. Once you have your sequence the way you want, rename the series again and the pictures will then display in the order that you chose.

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