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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Using Bulk Rename Utility in a Digital Preservation Workflow

Post by Liz Bedford, Data Services Project Librarian

My first experience getting into the nuts and bolts of digital preservation has been working with the Preservation department here at UW Libraries to remediate digitized versions of rare books for uploading into the HathiTrust Digital Library. Each page gets its own file, so for any book I’m working on, we’re talking about 100-500 TIFFs and JPEGs.  It’s a finicky process, because Hathi has extremely high standards for the material they accept into the collection. Great for future readers! But let’s just say that if it weren’t for automation, there’s no way I’d still be able to type coherently by the end of the day.

One of the tools I’ve come to rely on is Bulk Rename Utility, an open-source file rename utility for Windows. It’s pretty much effortless to set up, has a straightforward and intuitive GUI, and offers a wide variety of ways to play with file names. I predominantly use the Numbering and Extension rename options, but that barely scratches the surface of the functionality.

Let’s look at a recent example. A book I was working on was comprised of what I knew to be well-formed TIFFs. But I was unable to open the files, because at some point the file extension was changed from .tif to .tif_original. After opening Bulk Rename Utility, I navigated to my folder using the left sidebar. The first column shows the current file name, while the second shows what the new name will be with the options you’ve selected below. After using Ctrl + Shift to highlight all of my files, I used the dropdown menu in the Extension option (number 11) to indicate that I wanted my extensions to be “Fixed” as tif.


After hitting ‘Rename,’ Bulk Rename Utility flashes an ‘are you sure’ warning, which, based on experience, I do appreciate:


Three seconds later, my TIFFs are TIFFs, and all is right with the world. (Aka Windows will now let me continue to do my job.)

As I said, I’ve also used Bulk Rename Utility to re-number my files in a similarly easy process. I’m sure I’ll find other applications for the software  - I’m particularly curious about the functionality that lets you insert new names from an imported text file - but for now, I’m thrilled it’s on my digital preservation toolbelt.

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