How to Rename a File in Linux Terminal?


The Linux Terminal is a command-line interface that operates the Linux operating system. It provides a direct way of interacting with the system by executing commands, and as such, is an essential tool for Linux users.

In contrast to graphical user interfaces that are more commonly used in other operating systems, the Linux Terminal requires typing commands to make any changes on the system. Renaming a file can be one of the most common tasks carried out by users and administrators on any operating system including Linux.

However, renaming files using graphical user interfaces may not always be efficient when handling large volumes of files or when multiple files need to be renamed simultaneously. This is where the importance of learning how to rename a file in Linux Terminal comes into play.

Explanation of Linux Terminal

The Linux Terminal is often seen as intimidating by beginners because it requires typing text commands instead of using graphical tools. However, once you get used to it, you will find that it is one of the most powerful tools available on your computer. The terminal provides access to all parts of your computer’s filesystem and allows you to run various scripts and programs through simple commands.

While graphical user interfaces provide an interactive environment for users, they often hide some essential functionalities behind layers of menus and buttons. In contrast, with the use of command-line interfaces like the Linux Terminal, these functionalities become directly accessible via typed commands.

Importance of Renaming a File in Linux Terminal

Renaming a file might seem like a trivial task; however, it can save time and energy when dealing with large numbers of files or directories. When working with multiple files or directories at once, renaming them manually can be tedious due to the number involved.

With just one command in your terminal window though, all those files can be easily renamed within seconds. Another significant advantage of renaming files via terminal commands is automation: scripts can be created and saved for renaming files or directories automatically.

This is particularly useful when dealing with large numbers of files or managing multiple folders. Knowing how to rename files via the Linux Terminal is a handy skill that is essential for efficient system administration and file management on any Linux-based operating system.

Basic Commands for Renaming a File in Linux Terminal

mv command for renaming a file

The “mv” command is one of the fundamental commands in Linux terminal that can be used to rename files. The “mv” command stands for move, but it can also be used to rename files by moving them from one name to another. It is an essential tool for managing files on a Linux system and provides a simple way to quickly rename files without having to use any graphical user interface.

Syntax and usage of mv command

To use the “mv” command for renaming a file, you need to follow a specific syntax. The basic syntax of the “mv” command is as follows:

$ mv old_filename new_filename

Here, the `old_filename` represents the name of the file that needs to be renamed, and `new_filename` represents the new name that you want to give your file.

Examples of renaming a file using mv command

Let’s look at some examples of using the “mv” command for renaming files:

1. To rename a single file named “old_file.txt” to “new_file.txt”, use the following command:

$ mv old_file.txt new_file.txt

2. To change only specific parts of multiple filenames at once, you can use wildcards like “*” or “?” characters.

For example, if you have three files named “file_1.txt”, “file_2.txt”, and “file_3.txt”, and you want to add “_new” at the end of each filename, use this command:

$ mv file_*.* file_*_new.*

This will match all filenames starting with “file_” and ending with “.”

followed by any extension (txt in this case) before changing the names to end with “_new.txt” Using the “mv” command is an excellent way to rename files in Linux terminal, and it’s a simple and powerful tool that can make managing your files more efficient.

Advanced Techniques for Renaming a File in Linux Terminal

Using Regular Expressions to Rename Files:

One of the most powerful tools in Linux Terminal for renaming files is Regular Expressions. Regular Expressions are patterns that match a set of characters and allow you to perform complex search and replace operations on filenames. For example, if we want to rename all the files with extension .txt to .md, we can use the following command:

$ rename 's/\.txt$/.md/' *.txt

This command will rename all files with the extension .txt to .md by using regular expressions. The “s” in the command stands for “substitute,” which is followed by two slashes indicating what needs to be replaced (“.txt”) and what it should be replaced with (“.md”).

Using Shell Scripts to Rename Files:

Shell scripts are another powerful tool for renaming files in Linux Terminal. They allow you to automate repetitive tasks by writing a script that can be executed as many times as needed.

In the case of renaming files, shell scripts can be used to apply multiple renaming rules or conditions at once. For instance, suppose we have a folder containing hundreds of images that need resizing and renaming according to our specifications.

In this case, we could write a script that applies both operations simultaneously.

$ #!/bin/bash 

for file in *.png; do convert “$file” -resize 50% “new-${file}”

doneThis script is using ImageMagick’s “convert” command which resizes the image file and then saves it with a new name.

Best Practices for Renaming Files in Linux Terminal

Precautions before Renaming Files:

Before performing any operation on files in Linux Terminal, it is essential to take some necessary precautions. First and foremost, make sure to back up important files before renaming them.

This step ensures that if anything goes wrong, you still have a copy of the original file. Additionally, double-check the command line arguments before running the command to avoid any unintended actions.

Naming Conventions when Renaming Files:

When renaming files in Linux Terminal, it is essential to follow naming conventions that are easy for humans and machines to understand. Avoid using spaces or special characters such as asterisks (*), semicolons (;), and forward slashes (/) that can cause issues when working with scripts or commands. Instead, use hyphens (-) or underscores (_) to separate words.


Knowing how to rename files in Linux Terminal is an essential skill for any user who wants to work efficiently with their computer’s file system. By mastering basic commands like “mv,” advanced techniques like Regular Expressions and Shell Scripts can be utilized for complex operations on bulk files.

Taking necessary precautions such as backing up important files before renaming them and following naming conventions can help prevent errors resulting from careless mistakes. By practicing these best practices and techniques, you will save time and reduce errors in your day-to-day work on the Linux operating system ecosystem!

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