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Tuesday, 22 October 2013 11:45

Bulk rename utility helps with SkyDrive Pro filenames


Bulk Rename UtilityCopyMoving to Office 365 brings among its benefits 25Gb of individual SkyDrive Pro cloud-based storage. Yet, unlike competitors like DropBox, SkyDrive Pro has some heavy restrictions on filenames. Fortunately for those with big collections of data here is a free tool to make renaming a snap.

If you have used DropBox or Copy or other cloud-based storage solutions in the past you will be used to simply saving your files to, or dragging-and-dropping to, your cloud folder. SkyDrive Pro, while tightly integrated with both Windows 8 and Windows 8 Phone, comes with a limitation that reflects the fact it is ultimately a web-based storage solution.

This limitation is that filenames containing characters that are not "web friendly" are strictly verboten - this includes %, & and # - and if you've worked among executives who amass a large amount of legal files you'll see these characters constantly. Additional characters are forbidden, but they can't be part of Windows filenames anyhow, such as / and \.

Additionally, SkyDrive Pro filenames may not begin or end with a space or end with a period and must not be named after special Windows' devices such as AUX, PRN, NUL, CON, COM0 through COM9 or LPT0 through LPT9.

Dare to name your files contrary to these warnings and your SkyDrive Pro icon will display its exclamation point of disapproval and your files will not be securely stored in the Cloud.

Chances are if you are coming to Office 365 and SkyDrive Pro you are not starting fresh but bringing in existing email and documents. Now, you could work through your SkyDrive Pro sync conflicts one at a time, renaming files as you go, or you could use a bulk file rename utility. I chose the latter.

I found a super powerful utility called simply enough, Bulk Rename Utility, available from Best of all, it is free and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions and supports Windows 8 as well as earlier versions of Windows. It simply is a powerful, free and highly useful application that is modern and supported and, importantly, works!

Download and install this utility, and prepare yourself because when you launch it for the first time you will get a shock. It presents a traditional file browser in the top left of the screen, and a list of files and folders in the top right. Yet, the bottom half of the screen is made up of a hoard of varying file renaming options - regular expressions, replacements, capitalisations, tagging from music files or photographs, and much more.

Fortunately, you do not need to master these options, and they are all set to 'off' by default.

For our SkyDrive Pro purposes, you simply need to locate your SkyDrive Pro folder, tick the box at the bottom of the screen to include subfolders, highlight all files and folders (click in the file list and press CTRL-A) then use the replace box. For instance, enter "#" as the search text and "" (ie nothing) as the replacement text, or "&" as the search text and "and" as the replacement text and so on. Before committing, review the file list as you will see the Bulk Rename Utility displays filenames both before and after letting you see exactly what is going to happen. Only when you are satisfied click the replace button and let the tool do its thing.

The author provides a donate link on his web page so you can contribute to future development of the application. How much time did it save you? How much would that have cost you to do by hand?

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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