Re-sorting Image Files Using Renamer

I recently helped a friend who had a lot of travel photographs written to a CD. Whoever had created the CD had changed the image names and dates so that when viewed on a PC or in a DVD player, the images appeared in incorrect order. Even if the files had the original and correct dates, the order would still have been incorrect for display in a DVD player as these generally sort on filenames, not filedates.

The problem is easily fixed by a small freeware Windows application called Renamer. Files and details about Renamer are available at http://www.den4b.com/projects.php

Renamer is an excellent tool for manipulating file names of any file types, but is particularly useful for files that contain metadata (such as image and audio files), as it is able to use many types of metadata (EXID, ID3, document details, image sizes and so on) which can be useful for sorting and manipulating filenames.

It is important to stress, though, that having EXIF data intact in image files is extremely important, as is ensuring that your camera’s clock is correctly set. Be aware that some cameras lose their date and time setting when the batteries are changed (this may be a fault that develops as cameras age, though I know of a quite expensive Olympus camera that has never retained the date correctly, even when new). Also, some image editors destroy EXIF data when editing image files.

The following screenshots show the steps involved. Figuring out what rules to use and renaming 700 files took about 30 minutes. For clarity, the following screenshots show only a few of the files involved. The rules applied are in the upper window of the application, and are clearly explained in each screenshot. The rule order is important, and runs top to bottom of the rule set window.

Caution: Only work with a copy of the original files, in case something goes wrong! And of course, here I made the assumption that the camera date and time had been set correctly – or at least, hadn’t been changed part way through the sequence.

The screenshot below shows how the naming scheme inserts the files from a second SD card into the midst of filenames from the first SD card, making a slideshow very confusing. This happens because the files are sorted by alpha characters, not as numerals. In addition, even the file number sequences may be incorrect – there is no way of knowing. Fortunately this doesn’t matter, as you will see.

Renamer-1.gif

After loading the files to be renamed, the setting for metadata has to be adjusted so that the date format produces a filename that is sortable. I used the format shown below.

Renamer-2.gif

Selecting the first two rules then pressing the “Preview” button generates a preview of the filenames produced using the EXIF date metadata.

Renamer Screenshot 3

Note that sorting on the “New Name” column (see the “up” arrow?) now places the files in the correct order, as shown below.

Renamer Screenshot 4

Applying all the rules without re-sorting produces short and sequential filenames. Pressing the “Rename” button then performs the file renaming operation.

Renamer Screenshot 5

Done!

You can very quickly put together (and preview the results of) a set of rules for many situations using Renamer, and you can save sets of rules so you can reuse them at a later date. The example discussed here only uses the very smallest part of Renamer’s capabilities – it really is excellent software.

One of the features that I haven’t been able to find in Renamer is the ability to insert a “sort by” rule, hence the need to break the renaming operation into a couple of manual stages. It is possible to sort files in an Explorer window, however. When the files are dropped onto the Renamer window, the order seems to be preserved.

The end result? When burned to a CDR, the images played back in a logical (chronological) order when played in a DVD player.

Footnote: The original photographs had been taken with the camera held in both the landscape (horizontal) and portrait position. This orientation is often recorded into the image EXIF metadata, and some software is capable of reading this and rotating the image when it is viewed so that it displays correctly. DVD players do not do this, so many of the images needed rotating. For this, Irfanview http://www.irfanview.com/ is an excellent tool, as it can operate on batches of files – just select (in Irfanview Thumbnails) the files that need rotating, choose the direction, and Irfanview losslessly transforms them for you. Irfanview can also be used to reset the file dates to the EXIF date.

Exifer: If you need to manipulate, add or backup EXIF (and IPTC) data – and anyone serious about image management will need to do this – have a look at Exifer (http://www.exifer.friedemann.info)

Isn’t free software great?

One thought on “Re-sorting Image Files Using Renamer

  1. This is a great tutorial! Thanks 🙂

    I decided to give it a try, and while trying, I found out that there is an “Exif Date” column in the table (recently added I think). Right click on the columns….

    This means that you don’t need to do that many steps anymore, as you can sort by exif column, and the simply erase the old name and insert the index straight away!

    Hope this helps someone! Love this tool 😀

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