Batch Change Image Names with iPhoto and Photos Apps

Simultaneously Change the Names of Multiple Photos

Photos app with Info window open to change image titles
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Photos and iPhoto both have a batch change feature for adding or altering image titles. This capability can be very useful when you import new images into either app; chances are their names aren’t very descriptive, particularly if the images came from your digital camera. Names like CRW_1066, CRW_1067, and CRW_1068 can’t tell me at a glance that these are three images of our backyard bursting into summer color.

It’s easy to change an individual image’s name; one way to do it is by using this easy tip. But it’s even easier, and less time-consuming, to change the titles of a group of photos simultaneously.

Photos and iPhoto offer different ways to change image names. In iPhoto, you can batch change a group of selected images to have a common name along with an incremental number appended to the name to make each image unique.

In Photos, you can select a group of images and batch to change their names to be the same, but the Photos app, as it currently exists, doesn’t offer the ability to append an incremental number. Although not as effective as iPhoto and its ability to create unique names, it's still helpful; it lets you change the imported camera image names into something at least semi-helpful, such as Backyard Summer 2016. You can then use various methods to add a unique identifier to the names.

Let's start our look at making batch changes with the iPhoto app.

Batch Change Names in iPhoto

  1. Launch iPhoto, by clicking the iPhoto icon in the Dock, or double-clicking the iPhoto app in the /Applications folder.
  2. In the iPhoto sidebar, select the category that holds the images with which you're interested in working. This may be Photos, which will display thumbnails of all your images, or perhaps Last Imported, to limit the display to the last batch of images you recently imported into iPhoto.
  1. Select multiple thumbnails from the display using one of the following methods.
    • Select by dragging: Click and hold the primary mouse button, and then use the mouse to drag a selection rectangle around the thumbnails you wish to select.
    • Shift-select: Hold down the shift button, and click on the first and last images you wish to select. All images between the two selected images will be selected as well.
    • Command-select: Hold down the command (cloverleaf) key while clicking on each image you wish to include. You can select non-contiguous images using the command-click method.
  2. Once the photos you wish to work with are highlighted, select Batch Change from the Photos menu.
  3. In the Batch Change sheet that drops down, select Title from the Set dropdown menu, and Text from the To dropdown menu.
  4. A text field will display. Enter the text you want to use as the title for all of the images you selected earlier; for example, Trip to Yosemite.
  5. Place a check mark in the ‘Append a number to each photo’ box. This will append a number to the title of each selected image, such as ‘Trip to Yosemite - 1.’
  6. Click the OK button to start the batch change process.

The batch change feature in iPhoto is a handy way to quickly change the titles of a group of related images.

But that's not the only trick iPhoto is capable of; you can find more in iPhoto Tips and Tricks.

Batch Change Names in Photos

Photos, at least the 1.5 version that is current at the time of this writing, doesn't have a batch change feature that allows for changing a group of image names by appending an incrementally changing number the way the older iPhoto app was able to do. But you can still batch change a group of selected images to one common name. This may not seem terribly helpful right off the bat, but it can actually make sorting and working with a large number of newly imported images much easier.

As an example, perhaps you went on vacation recently, and are ready to import all the photos you took on your trip. If you import all of them at once, you'll end up with a large group of images with the default naming convention imposed by your camera's software. In my case, this would end up being images with names like CRW_1209, CRW_1210, and CRW_1211; not very descriptive.

You can, however, use Photos to change all selected images to a common name, which will help you to organize your images.

Batch Changing Image Names in Photos

  1. If Photos isn't already open, launch the app by clicking its Dock icon, or double-clicking the Photos app located in the /Applications folder.
  2. In the main thumbnail views in Photos, select the group of images whose names you wish to batch change. You can use the tips for making selections outlined in the iPhoto section, above.
  3. With multiple thumbnails selected, choose Info from the Windows menu.
  4. The Info window will open and display various bits of information about the selected images, including an entry that will say either “Various Titles” or “Add a Title,” depending on whether the selected images have titles assigned or not.
  5. Click once in the title field; remember it will be labeled either “Various Titles” or “Add a Title”; this will define an insertion point for entering text.
  6. Enter the common title you would like all of the selected images to have.
  7. Press return or enter on your keyboard.

The selected images will have the new title you entered.

Bonus Photos Tip

You can use the Info window to assign descriptions and location information to your images in the same way you assigned new titles.

Note: Although Photos doesn't currently have the ability to batch change names using an incremental counter, I expect the capability will be added in future releases. When such capability becomes available, I will update this article to provide instructions on how to make use of the new feature.