File renaming is not the most exciting thing that you will do to your photos, or a particularly exciting thing to learn about. However, it is a critical part of the digital photography workflow and crucial to managing all your beautiful photos! Lightroom offers you multiple ways to rename your photos and many different options that you can use to customize your file names.
If you are using Lightroom to edit your photos, it is important to remember to use Lightroom to rename your files. After you have imported a photo, that file name is the only connection that Lightroom has to the file and the only way the program will know how to find the file on your computer. If you change the file name outside of Lightroom you will break that all important link and you will be faced with the task of restoring it before you can continue working on your photo. To avoid this issue, let Lightroom do the renaming!
Why should you rename your photos?
Maybe it does not bother you if all of your filenames are simply a combination of letters and numbers generated by your camera. Even in this case though, it can be good to rename your files!
Renaming your files will help you to organize all of your photos and keep track of them. You can label them by date, location, the name of your client, or anything else that helps distinguish each photo from the other. This way, you will always be able to quickly find your photos later! If someone comes back much later on asking for a certain photo you took for them, you do not want to be digging through thousands and thousands of photos that are simply numbered, you want to be able to quickly search the filename and find it in minutes!
It also looks more professional to send a client a file that is named “yourname_date_clientname.jpg” or something similar than one that is simply “0001.jpg”. When sending photos to clients, having them clearly labelled can also prevent the client from getting these files confused with ones they already have on their computer. If they already have a numbered image file on their computer, the one you sent them could get lost in their hard drive. You do not want your clients losing their photos!
Now that you know why you should rename your files, let’s look into how you can go about that. There are multiple ways to rename a file in Lightroom. Keep reading to learn about them and find the one that is right for you!
Renaming a Single Photo
If you simply need to change the name of a single photo in Lightroom, the process is quite easy. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Select the photo you want to rename and expand its Metadata panel.
Step 2: Set the panel to Default view
Step 3: Click the File Name field
Step 4: Edit the file name as needed
Realistically, though, there will be few occasions where you only need to rename one photo. When you are editing, you are working on many photos all at once, and will need to rename them all, likely all to something very similar. Luckily, there are multiple ways to rename your photos in batches as well!
Renaming Batches of Photos
Method 1: Rename on Import
This is a way to rename all of your files as you are importing then to Lightroom. Your camera probably auto-generates a file name that is something like “DSC_001” or something close to that. If you do not want your files saved like that on your hard drive, you can easily change the filename as you import the photos to Lightroom.
Step 1: Check the “Rename Files” box found in the File Renaming Panel as you import your photos.
Step 2: From the template drop-down menu, choose one of the options available to you. In this case, we chose “Custom Name – Sequence”.
Step 3: If you want to create a custom option, choose “Edit” at the bottom of the drop-down menu. This will cause a new box to appear, where you can customize your filename settings. Each drop-down menu has a number of different options that you can choose from. When you find one you like, click “Insert”.
Step 4: If these are settings you know you would like to use again, you can save them as a preset. To do this, go back to the top drop-down menu and select “Save Current Settings as New Preset”. You will then have the option to name your preset. Once you have done so, click “Create” and your preset will be saved.
Step 5: Click “Import” to begin importing your photos with their new filenames.
Method 2: Renaming Files after Selecting Favourites
Maybe you want to rename a batch of photos, but you don’t want to rename every single one that you are going to import, you just want to rename your favourites. To do this, you will need to begin in the Library module, and then follow the steps below.
Step 1: Once you are in the Library module, select the photos you want to rename, and then select “Rename Photos” from the “Library” tab in the top menu bar.
Step 2: Select the template you want to use for your filenames. We have selected “Custom Name – Sequence”.
Step 3: Click “OK” and your changes will be applied!
This helps you to separate your favourite photos from the others and makes it easy to find them!
Method 3: Renaming on Export
Finally, you can also choose to rename your files as you export them. This can be a good way to rename files that you want to print or are uploading to Facebook or Instagram as it makes it easy to tell those few apart from the others.
Step 1: Select the files you want to export.
Step 2: Click the “Export” button found in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Step 3: Scroll down to the section that gives you file renaming options.
Step 4: Make sure the box next to “Rename” is selected, and then select the options you want applied to your files.
Step 5: Click Export.
Now, your files will be renamed as they are exported from Lightroom!
Renaming your files is the only way you will be able to keep thousands and thousands of image files organized, so it is important that you understand how to do this effectively. Try all the different methods mentioned above and choose the one that works best for you and your workflow, then begin putting it into practice. In no time at all, you will have all of your photos perfectly named and organized!