Image management on Windows: batch resize, easily rename files
November 25, 2021 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Does some simple software for Windows exist that will help me manage my image files the way I want? Basically, make it easy to rename a bunch of images, one by one, without having to click with the mouse, then carefully select the filename excluding the extension, then type a name (in tiny print in the file folder window), then click with the mouse again to do the next one? I want to just keep my eyes on the screen and touch type names, with the images being large enough to know what I'm looking at. I also want to select a bunch of files, and resize them all to have a maximum length and/or width, or to resize them all to 25%, or something. Surely someone has done this?

I know about Photoshop batch processing. I'd like something that is lighter weight than Photoshop and also requires less clicking around/typing/etc.

I need this to work on my PC (Windows 7), not least since uploading and downloading a bunch of image files will take too long.
posted by amtho to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Check out irfanview, a great image viewer with a lot of batch processing functions. It's been around forever and the interface is a bit old-fashioned so it might not be what you're looking for, but I use it for jobs like this all the time. One of the few things I miss when I'm not on windows.
posted by trig at 12:45 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]

Nikon ViewNX might get you there.
posted by jmfitch at 12:54 PM on November 25

If irfanview doesn't work for you (it probably will, it's very good) then if you can come up with a workflow you'd prefer, this is the kind of thing that's really easy to script.

For example, I'm imagining something you could drag and drop a selection of picture files and/or folders onto, and it would display the first picture, show you its existing name, and present you with a prompt to type a new one. Simply hitting Enter would keep the existing name, or typing a new name and then hitting Enter would rename the picture with that name and its existing filename extension. In either case the script would then move on to the next picture, and so on until it had walked through all the pictures you'd originally dragged and dropped onto it.

If something like that sounds useful I'd be happy to code it up for you.
posted by flabdablet at 12:57 PM on November 25 [2 favorites]

FastStone Image Viewer has batch processing for image resizing, cropping, or changing format or compression level, among other things. It also has very powerful batch renaming. It's my tool of choice.

As for renaming, it sounds like you want to manually type in individual file names, but reduce the number of mouse clicks--maybe to one or zero mouse clicks between images? I'm not sure if FastStone facilitates that, but it's not something I've ever tried.
posted by polecat at 1:44 PM on November 25 [2 favorites]

The renaming could be done simpler just using native Windows features. In any folder, you can use the arrow keys to move to the next/previous file. Pressing F2 will allow you to rename the file, with the non-extension portion of the filename pre-highlighted, so if you start to type, the old filename (but not extension) will be overwritten. If you press Left Arrow or Home, you can add text at the beginning of the existing file name, and if you use Right Arrow, you can add text at the end of the file name. (Using End unfortunately puts the cursor after the file extension, so it's not as useful.) Once you've got the name the way you want it, press Tab or Shift+Tab to jump to the next/previous file, with the name pre-highlighted. (And if you're happy with the existing file name, just move to the next one and the filename will be unchanged.)

If you changed the folder view to have the largest size thumbnails, you can probably rename the whole folder in one pass, since it will auto-scroll the next picture onto the screen as you advance. The text size is still the same system size, though.

Note: I'm assuming from your question that you want manually typed descriptive names for each photo. If you want to name them the same thing with sequential numbers (Johnny's birthday 1, Johnny's birthday 2), or based on metadata (dates, F-stop, file dimensions, etc.), there are other utilities that can do that without you repeatedly typing that data. Better File Rename and ExifTool are two programs I've used for more systematic renaming, but they assume you already know which files you want to rename.
posted by yuwtze at 1:51 PM on November 25 [7 favorites]

OK, I did a little experimentation, and FastStone will let you rename in a way that I think you're asking for. If you are viewing the contents of a folder (either as a set of thumbnails or in what they call "report view"--equivalent to the "details view" in Windows File Explorer), you can use the cursor keys to move from one image to another. Having selected the image you want, you can hit F2 to open a file renaming dialog box, where the file name (without extension) automatically has keyboard focus. You type the name you want, hit enter, and then you can hit cursor keys to move to the next image that you want to rename. No mouse clicks required!
posted by polecat at 1:53 PM on November 25

I tried yuwtze's suggestion in File Explorer, and it seems to be exactly the same set of keys and same number of keystrokes as you'd do in FastStone. The difference is that FastStone opens a dialog box, and File Explorer doesn't, but that doesn't change the number of keystrokes.
posted by polecat at 1:56 PM on November 25

Response by poster: Oh, I remember Irfanview! The logo is "it is a cat. It is a flat cat." -- gross, but memorable.
posted by amtho at 2:10 PM on November 25

Ditto the Irfanview. Been using it nigh on 20 years. (!!)
posted by maggieb at 2:12 PM on November 25

No matter what program you pick, you'll almost certainly need to learn the keyboard shortcuts for navigating and renaming files if you want to avoid using the mouse while manually renaming files. I'd honestly do this in Explorer as yuwtze suggests since it's built-in and I doubt that I'd save much time doing it with something else. If the icon thumbnails aren't large enough you can also enable a preview pane in Explorer via the View > Preview Pane option in the ribbon.
posted by Aleyn at 2:42 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]

>Once you've got the name the way you want it, press Tab or Shift+Tab to jump to the next/previous file

Implied but omitted from my description here was not to press Enter after renaming the first file, and instead press Tab while still in the editing mode. And it's the same editing mode as if you'd started the renaming any other way; there's noting special about using F2 to get there other than it's mouse-free, and would allow you to page through the files and jump in to edit any one in particular. If you have a laptop that makes it difficult/inconvenient to using the function keys as real F-keys, you can still start to rename the first file any way you like, then use Tab/Shift+Tab after that.
posted by yuwtze at 3:17 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]

If you want to name them the same thing with sequential numbers (Johnny's birthday 1, Johnny's birthday 2), there are other utilities that can do that

Also in Windows Explorer: select all the files, press F2, type in the name you want and then CTRL-Return to rename them all.
posted by Lanark at 3:30 PM on November 25 [3 favorites]

Another oldie but a goodie is Bulk Rename Utility, it's a very old looking interface but I use it daily, it'll do sequential numbers/letter/Roman, insert new strings anywhere, and find and replace, it's the Swiss Army knife of simpler re-namers.

For (most) batch work I'm another Irfanview user. It's great for batch resizing etc. I recently fed it 0.5Gb of images to resize (and change to monochrome) no worries, and very fast. And again has a good forum.

That sounds really elegant flabdablet

I'm windows 10 but have been using both of these since 7.
posted by unearthed at 4:29 PM on November 25

hypothetically one can also use a keyboard snippet expander to help. I personally use Breevy as I got it from Humble very long time ago, but PhraseExpress and TextExpander are available for PC. You type ;xp and it get expanded to whatever string you like, and you can add new expansions as you go.

Another vote for IrfanView. I've used it for many many years.
posted by kschang at 6:26 PM on November 25

That sounds really elegant flabdablet

It's not as elegant as just setting Windows Explorer up to do exactly the same thing via thumbnails, preview, and Tab to step from one rename operation straight to the next. Should have thought of that myself; didn't. Too much time spent in CLIs :-)

Also quite pleased to find that the same keystrokes work exactly the same way in the PCManFM-Qt file browser on my Linux laptop as well.

yuwtze easily wins my vote for Best Answer on the rename issue.
posted by flabdablet at 8:39 PM on November 25

Irfan Ċ kiljan was born in Jajce, Bosnia but developed IrfanView while studenting in Austria in 1996. He'd like you to address him (and his product), as Earfan [who sounds romantically like an escapee from Gondor] rather than Urfan [most probably an Ork]; so that would be polite. IrfanView is really useful, efficient and friendly and I haven't begun to scrape the surface of its graphics capabilities. So thanks-all for the suggestions above.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:36 AM on November 26 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have found my people. You are all like brothers and sisters to me.

Thank you so much! I will try some of these soon. This is very encouraging.
posted by amtho at 2:09 AM on November 26

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