Renaming Master Files - Part 2

by Ben Long

In my last post, I detailed some ways that you can rename your master image files from within Aperture (I also ranted and raved about why you don't really need to to this if you're an Aperture user, and got some very interesting comments from users who offered good reasons why I was wrong). Aperture philosophy aside, this week I'd like to offer an Automator-based solution for renaming your files.

It seems that a few users have already discovered Automator as an easy way to rename your files. If you're running Aperture, then you already have Automator - it's a stand-alone application that sits in your Applications folder. If you're not familiar with Automator, take a look at this overview and tutorial to learn more about how Automator works and how you can use use it to simplify your post-production workflow.

For the rest of this article, I'm going to assume that you're familiar with Automator, and the concept of Workflows and Actions.

Automator ships with a Rename Finder Items action that you can use to rename your images, but I prefer to use some actions of my own devising. If you download my free Photo Renaming Actions, you'll have two new actions: Rename from EXIF and Rename from IPTC, which allow you to batch rename your existing images. In addition to allowing you to rename with new text, these actions can also automatically add EXIF and IPTC information from the images themselves to the image name.


Many photographers use their original camera names as part of a larger photo cataloging scheme. If you prefer not to loose track of the original names, both actions offer the option to store the original names in the Spotlight Comments field of each file. At any later date, you can use the included Restore Original Names action to automatically rename your files with their original camera-generated names. (Note that Rename from IPTC requires Photoshop CS2.)

When you install Aperture, a suite of Aperture actions are also added to Automator. You can use these in conjunction with my renaming commands to build a simple workflow that will automatically rename your images and then import them into any Aperture project.

Both of these actions pass on the list of renamed files to the next action in your workflow. So, you can create a workflow that first executes either of these renaming actions, and then executes an Aperture Import action.


One of Automator's best features is the number of different ways that you can execute a workflow. You can save it as an application, a folder action, or a Finder action. With these options, you can easily drop files onto an app, or into a folder, and have them automatically renamed and added to a specific project. If you choose the Show Action When Run option for each action, then you'll be able to configure both actions at run-time, allowing you to customize your naming options, and select which project you want to import into.

Finally, you can also include these actions in much more complex workflows that might do anything from automatically copying your renamed images to a backup server, burning a CD of them.


Dan Donovan
2006-11-23 00:35:51
Can you rename original raw files once they have been imported into Aperture? Here is my normal workflow:
1. Import all photos from a shoot into Aperture (referencing the files)
2. Look at all of the images and delete the bad ones.
3. Manually sort the images if necessary
4. Rename the version name to what I want.
5. Here is where I would like to rename the original raw files to match the NEW version name I just created in Aperture. I can't just run a batch rename in the Finder because the photos in Aperture would be in a different order compared to the Finder (if I had manually organized them).


Roy Levien
2006-11-23 07:40:59
Why not just consolodate the masters and then relocate them, assigning the version name as the file name when you do?
Roy Levien
2006-12-03 11:23:10
That shold be, Why not just relocate the masters and then consolodate them, assigning the version name as the file name when you do, ad Ben explains in next post on this topic.
2006-12-07 11:37:51
Just a word of caution about the Rename Finder Items Automator Action that comes with OS X. The files seem to be processed in a random order by this action so you may not always get the result you expect. For instance, if you have files named a.jpg, b.jpg, c.jpg and try to rename them sequentially so that a becomes 001, b becomes 002 and c becomes 003 - you may instead find that the action doesn't process the files in the order a,b,c even though you have arranged them like that in automator. a may be renamed to 002, b renamed to 003 and c renamed to 001. the action processes the input files in some order known only to the mages at Apple. Ive tried numerous times and they don't seem to be processed according to date order, filename order, size order, etc, etc. Its very weird. Try it on some unimportant files and see for yourself.