View Full Version : Renaming folders in Terminal

Jun 26, 2013, 04:44 PM
Have hundreds of folders with a 3-digit numbers at the end like this:

moon light347
earth is round209

Folder names vary in length but there is always a 3-digit number at the end.

Need to remove the 3 numbers at the end & insert them in the beginning like this:

347moon light
209earth is round

Is it possible to do this in Terminal?

thanks much

Jun 26, 2013, 06:27 PM
It's possible, but where are the folders located? You can make a script that match the form you described then rename it. You can then use that script in a loop over a folder of files and folders. Just keep in mind that commands such as mv are destructive so you want to make sure that you test such a script and make sure you understand what it does.

Jun 26, 2013, 07:38 PM
My first thought would be to list the files with:



and then do pattern matching with



In a command such as the following:

ls -R | grep '^.*\d\d\d$'

This is just to start giving you an idea. The following expression:


is called a "regular expression". Regular expressions are used for pattern-matching and for splitting things into pieces.

In this regular expression the '^' character specifies the beginning of the file or folder name, followed any ".*" which means any number of any characters, and then "\d\d\d" specifies exactly three digits and finally "$" specifies the end of the file name.

This command:

ls -R | grep '^.*\d\d\d$'

isn't exactly finished, but I wanted to give you an idea and something to google for (i.e. "split" and "regular expression").

Other useful commands may be

sed, awk, csplit

I'm looking for people to teach Mac programming to. The service is free, I just want to get ideas for my web tutorials on my website.

-- Kaydell

Jun 27, 2013, 09:02 AM

# match the pattern
ORIGINALNAME=$(echo "$1" | grep -P "^[A-z ]+\d{3}$")

# if it doesn't match, quit
if [ -z "$ORIGINALNAME" ]
exit 1

# if it's not a directory, quit
if [ "$(file -ib "$1")" != "directory" ]
exit 2

# separate the numeric suffix from the name
SUFFIX=$(echo "$1" | grep -oP "\d{3}$")
NAME=$(echo "$1" | grep -oP "^[A-z ]+")

# reverse the order

# test the result
echo "$NEWNAME"

This will match the name of folders and print out the new name, to use it in a folder you can do like this:

for i in * ; do ./thescript.sh "$i" ; done

Jun 28, 2013, 03:46 PM
for i in $(ls -p|grep "/"|rev|cut -c2-|rev|sed s/\ /_/g);do thr=$(echo "$i"|rev|cut -c1-3|rev); rest=$(echo "$i"|rev|cut -c4- |rev); mv "$(echo "$i"|sed s/_/\ /g)" "$(echo ${thr}${rest}|sed s/_/\ /g)";done

Jun 28, 2013, 08:32 PM
Just a heads up, that will rename all folders regardless of their name.

Jun 29, 2013, 12:16 PM
Thanks for all your suggestions. I couldn't get any of these solutions to work & finally figured out some folder names started with underscore "_" . After removing those, these solutions worked.

thanks again