MS-DOS and Windows command line ren and rename commands

Updated: 06/02/2020 by Computer Hope
rename command

The ren and rename commands change the name of files and directories.

Tip

In earlier releases of MS-DOS, instead of using ren or rename you need to use the move command to rename directories or files.

Availability

Ren and rename are internal commands that are available in the following Microsoft operating systems.

Ren and rename syntax

Renames a file/directory or files/directories.

RENAME [drive:][path][directoryname1 | file name 1] [directory name 2 | file name 2]
REN [drive:][path][directoryname1 | file name 1] [directory name 2 | file name 2]
Note

You cannot specify a new drive or path for the destination of a renamed file.

Ren and rename examples

rename c:\computer hope

Change the name of the directory "computer" to "hope."

rename *.txt *.bak

Rename all text files with the ".txt" file extension to files with ".bak" extension.

Warning

When renaming files using an asterisk (*) keep in mind that you can rename all files in a directory. If there are files in the current directory you don't want renamed make your rename less greedy by adding a file extension.

rename * 1_*

Rename all files to begin with 1_. The asterisk (*) in the command above is an example of a wild character and can represent one or more characters. With only an asterisk, all file names in the current directory are renamed to have "1_" as the first two characters.

Tip

To represent or match one single character only, use the question mark (?) character instead.

Note

This command doesn't append or add text to the front of the file name; it replaces the first two characters of every file in the current directory. For example, if there was a file were named hope.txt, it would be renamed to 1_pe.txt.

rename "computer hope.txt" "example file.txt"

Rename the file "computer hope.txt" to "example file.txt". When you are dealing with a file or directory with a space, it must be surrounded by quotes. Otherwise, you'll get an error indicating that "Getting "The syntax of the command is incorrect." error."

Additional information