How to ReName a File or Folder in Mac OS X

Mar 18, 2010 - 39 Comments

rename file folder mac os x Renaming a folder in Mac OS X is very easy, and there’s a few different ways you can do it. We’ll focus on the three most common tricks to quickly rename any file or directory folder on the Mac, two of which are done through the familiar graphical interface of the Finder file system, and another which is a bit more advanced for technically inclined users who like the command line approach.

Method 1: Rename a file or folder by selecting it and hitting the ‘return’ key

Just click on the icon of the file/folder from the OS X Finder, and then hit the return key, then type in the new name. This is quick and simple, and likely the most traditional method of renaming on the Mac.

Method 2: Rename a file or folder by selecting it and clicking on the filename with your cursor

Super simple and done through the Finder, here’s what you want to do: after you have selected the icon, click on the actual filename text and hover for a moment with the mouse cursor, you’ll see the text highlight which indicates that you can then rename the item. Type in the new name, then hit return or click away with the mouse cursor to set the change.

Method 3: Using right-click and choosing “Rename” from the menu

If you right-click (or control+click) on a file name in the Finder of modern versions of OS X, you can choose a “Rename” option to rename a specific file, or use it to rename multiple files at a time if multiple files are selected. This works great, but it’s only available to the newest versions of OS X.

Advanced Method 4: Rename a file or folder via command line

The command line is a bit more advanced, but you can also rename any file or directory via the Terminal. To do this from the command line, type the following syntax replacing with your files and filenames as desired:

mv oldfilename newfilename

A note on renaming files, and file extensions:

Do be aware when renaming certain files that changing the file extension (.jpg or .txt, etc) can effect the behavior of that file and how applications respond to it. Generally speaking, you should leave the file extension the same. This is all the more important if you have file extensions visible in the Mac Finder, because it becomes easier to rename them.

I realize this may appear as pretty rudimentary stuff to many of our more advanced readers, but two recent switchers have asked me this question so surely they can’t be alone in wondering, both were trying to do the Windows right-click -> rename method which is sure to cause some confusion in Mac OS X.


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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Jim says:

    No it is not simple.if it were simple it could be done as on a PC but ios have to complicate things.

  2. eleanor says:

    when I go to rename a file I get a red dot with an X, do you know why?
    what am I doing wrong

  3. Boris says:

    Recently started working with Mac Pro 13 and did not know how to work and save MW files in Mac. One of my files was automatically saved by Mac with the word “pages” in the name of the file: something like “My workday schedule.pages” or “Book report.pages”. Because of my stupidity, I removed the word “pages” trying to rename the file and the renamed document could not be opened after this (it was shown as a corrupted file). I was devastated and spent two hours, looking for a way to open it. Finally, I again added the word “pages” into the name of the document and, lo and behold, the document could be opened! It might be a good tip fro those who never worked with Mac and just started educating themselves about the ways of the “Mac land.”

  4. Aditya says:

    How do you change mode or rename a file “Google Drive”, I have tried everything and this is the error I get

    mv: rename Google to GD/Google: No such file or directory
    mv: rename Drive to GD/Drive: No such file or directory

    Please advise.

  5. wrightsanches says:

    For this kind of problems you can solve your problems by using Long Path Tools………

  6. Arif says:

    Why does everything have to be so tedious in Mac?

  7. OP says:

    >can effect the behavior of that file


  8. Jon says:

    I have renamed a load of music files in a folder on my desktop.
    They were originally labelled ‘audio track 1’
    ‘audio track 2’ etc and have now been changed to the actual track names.

    When I try and import them into Traktor or a music library they only transfer with the original names and not the renamed file.

    Does anyone have an answer as to how to stop this?

  9. Jacob Palme says:

    I wanted to rename a finder window, in particular a window containing a common search operation. All your answers are only on remaning files or folders. So that did not help me.

    • No says:

      Renaming a Finder window is done by renaming the folder of. A Finder window gets its name from the folder it is, so you would need to rename the folder as described in these answers to rename the Finder window for that folder.

      If the name is for folder of a smart search, rename the Smart Search.

      All of this works exactly as described here. PEBCAK issue.

  10. johnny says:

    If I rename a photo file name, why wouldn’t the “get info” file name changed also?
    Where does mac get this information from? the “get info” title.


  11. Charles Black says:

    I am using OSX Yosemite 10.10.1 . Question. How do I obtain an “Administrater Password “? I am the sole user of my OSX. I am asked for it when I try to get into “Terminal”
    Please Help!!!

  12. hannahs says:

    do you know how to change the author and title name in get info?
    because whatever you put in name & extensions is just renaming the outside file not the internal file name.
    is there a way to change the album name, title name and authors??

  13. Ben says:

    This “answer” is exactly why I hate Macs. I never had to look up how to rename files on a Windows computer. Right click, choose rename file, and move on. Since switching a Mac a few years ago, when I need to rename a file I find it’s completely non-intuitive. It kills me that one has to wander the internet in search of “answers” on how to do a basic function.

    • OP says:

      What are you talking about? You press enter and type it in. This is no different from a PC. No one has to look it up. The person just wrote this article to be thorough.

  14. Surabhi says:

    Thanks so much for the tip!! V.useful!!

  15. Nilesh Parmar says:

    IS there any way using automator to create a hot watched folder. to change file names within the folder, say i had a file BR13 and i want all to be BR14. Can this be done automatically?

  16. Vlad says:

    Thanks. It helped me.

  17. Prem Dass says:

    Thank you very much, your post was very helpful for me. again thank you very much.

  18. Carmen says:

    for those of us who are not “tech-savy”…but have a MAC computer…and used to always use PCs…how the heck do you change file names??? It used to be you could just highlight the file name…for example if I created a file in Microsoft WORD…I could look it up…right click on the name and then find “rename” in my menu options and then change the name and be done. Nice, simple and easy. Now I can’t do that with a MAC. If I follow those SIMPLE steps…there is NO “rename” menu option ANYWHERE. And, like with a PC…you can’t click on the file name you want to change until you get the blinking cursor behind your file name and change it that way either. So…what … in simple terms…do you do? Everyone also talks about how user friendly a MAC is vs PCs…but there are little things like this…that often times are NOT easy and NOT user friendly! Ugh…help! ;o)

    • Derrick says:

      Simply double-click the name — a quick double click — and if not right-click and press Get Info and in the box you should be able to change the name.

  19. SDe says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I am a New Switcher and I would like to first say, I have been using PC’s for quite some time and I taught myself everything that I believe was needed to not only navigate and execute through them and softwares, as well as repair and upgrade them hardware wise as well, and I just decided recently, through many times just hemming and Horning, to make the Switch to Mac and have only dabbed into and around it for just about 1 week now, and let me just finish up in saying, “I Will Never Go Back.” It far Superior to PC’s in Every Single aspect imaginable and I just suggest to anyone who is or was on the fence as I, just be Patient and Learn it, through Great forums such as this and search engines.

    In regards to original question and poster, I can definitely see the need for choosing multiple files and or folders to move, copy, or delete, yet i just have Never had the Need to rename multiple files or folders at the same time and i believe that there are many that will attest to that as well, yet on the other hand I am firm believer in: If everyone was Plumbers, then we would not Electricians, as each and everyone has there own wants and needs, yet in this world of ours: Majority Always Rules, and Apple just did not see or hear of any Great Need to rename multiple files and or folders in their software as a A Shortcut and I emphasize Shortcut because the following is a way to do what you want:

    Holding down the Left Clicker of your mouse drag all in the middle of each Icon what you want to choose and once you have done that, then Right Click on any Icon and choose: Get Info and each and every folder will then open up in a small description view window. Once you are there, merely navigate down on each window to: Name & Extension and then rename them there.

    In renaming One Icon and or Folder, which I know is way of life for PC and Mac users and a necessity, you can do it a few ways, One: Pick the file or folder you want by Left Clicking it and Highlighting it and then hit: enter/Return and then rename it. Two: Left Click the file or folder and Highlight it, then left Click it again and rename it, and Lastly: The multiple file or folder way, which I described above.

    I hope this somehow Helped you and anyone else who may need it and remember: No One ever became Great or Good by just asking for answers, it is OJT (On the Job Training) that makes that happen, by getting your Head and Hands into the Game!!!

    From just what i have shortly seen, there is A Whole BIG World of Good things on the Mac side and you need to just be Patient and Not make First Hand Irrational Statements, as I Try to live my Life by This One saying which is: Don’t Lose your Head to Gain a Minute, You Need Your Head Your Brains are in It!!! If we act on and make decisions on mere emotions then they will Usually be the Wrong One Always. Relax and Think Things Through Thoroughly before you REACT!!!

    Thanks Everyone for a Great Venue and the very Best to All my Fellow Mac’rs!!!

  20. tj4jones says:

    wow, that worked. you can click on the folder once and enter to allow renaming.

  21. srinivas says:

    In my mac a name of file is -old is created it self in trash when i go to open another by same name file opend in trash like this folders are generated continously but it is not totally deleted in trash.How to deleted permanantly from trash

  22. anna says:

    Would someone clarify this for me? If I rename a picture that is a .jpg, say, IMG_334.jpg to sally’s birthday 08, do I have to have no spaces and leave the .jpg, or does title not affect file format that way? It may be a silly elementary question, but hope someone can let me know! Thanks!

    • Paul says:

      file name title does not effect the file format, though if you have file extensions shown and you try to change it, the Finder will warn you.

  23. George says:

    Thank you. For years I have been frustrated by not knowing how to do this.

  24. […] file extension remains consistent with the files format, and unlike renaming things in the Finder you can’t accidentally change the file extension […]

  25. Fred says:

    Thanks :) I would never have found out!

  26. Vincent says:

    Thanks, had my mac for 10 years and could never figure out how to name an untitled folder……thanks to you I now know!!!! Duhhhhh!!!

  27. Pete says:

    Nice tip, but in addition, you can’t rename a shared file, until its been ‘unshared’.

    Took me a while to figure that out, but makes sense….

  28. fitch shirt says:

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  29. Syd Salmon says:

    If you need to rename many folder &/or files, you can use the AppleScript Utility. Check off “Show Script menu in menu bar.” Under Finder scripts, you will a variety of scripts to help you manage files and folders more efficiently.

  30. Cat_se7en says:

    It’s also worth setting up an automator action to batch rename files, and adding it as a “service” so that it can be accessed via the drop-down menu in the Finder.

  31. Armando says:

    @Steve Zoni,

    I’m guessing that the folder is locked or has restrictions beyond what you have permission to edit. The easiest way to change the name of a locked folder or file is by using the Administrator account on the Mac, or by going into the terminal and using sudo like:

    sudo mv Project OldProject

    which will require an admin password but will definitely change it

    hope that helps


  32. Steve Zoni says:

    I have never seen this before. I have always been able to change the name the way you described, however, this folder “Projects” will not let me change the name. I tred going into the Info mini menu as described and could not see an option to change the name either.



  33. BeckleMic says:

    Thanks very much. I have been a switcher for over a year now, and to change a file name I have been using the “Get Info” mini menu option. I always knew there was an easier way but just could not figure it out. Great stuff

    • Lisa says:

      That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Switched to Macs at work 14 months ago and just now learned I don’t have to do it the cumbersome “Get Info” way!

  34. daedana says:

    Nice tricks even though I knew these, but these are something that you just use, use and use after learning.

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