Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I look at lots of research papers, usually PDFs. I open them, copy the title from the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader, close the file, click the file name and paste the title in. This calls an error. What's up with that?

A file name can not contain any of the following symbols: (standard list like / \ and so on)

Just to be clear, my file name doesn't contain any of these symbols, or so I can't see them.

I just did a random file... I searched online for graph theory notes, first one is

I downloaded it, copied the full title and tried to paste it into the name and it didn't work.

share|improve this question
Which exactly? Does it happen to all, or only some? Give us an example! – slhck Oct 14 '11 at 16:27
Sorry, first off, I don't have any of those symbols in my file name. I didn't make that clear and that's important. – Graphth Oct 14 '11 at 16:52
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've had exactly the same problem but the only solution I could come up with was:

  1. Copy (Ctrl+c) title of journal in PDF

  2. Remember the last words of each line of the title.

  3. Close PDF file

  4. Slow double-click (or Rclick->rename) pdf file to rename

  5. paste (Ctrl+v) copied title

  6. For each last word of the real title (the edit file name box is limited, changing the length of lines of the pasted title), imagine there is an invisible, "illegal" character. Delete that space and add the space again.

  7. Voila. Windows will now accept the new filename.

However, in my case, I have to change about 3,000 PDF filenames and haven't found a way to make this process quicker...

share|improve this answer
This is the solution I was looking for. – Graphth Jul 11 '13 at 18:57

"A file name can not contain any of the following symbols … \" - What's up with that?

The "\" character is reserved for separating the names of directories (folders) from each other and from the filename.

For example If I have a folder c:\foo containing a subdirectory bar and I put a file named file.txt into bar I could refer to it as c:\foo\bar\file.txt. If I were also allowed to put '\' in a filename, I could put into c:\foo a file named bar\file.txt and Windows would then have two different files in two different directories that could both be referred to by the same name c:\foo\bar\file.txt. This would cause problems.

Other characters also have special meanings and so are not accepted as part of the file name.


According to Adobe Reader (File, Properties, Description, Title) the title of is "GraphTheory.dvi". I was able to cut that and paste it into a file name.

The first two lines of the text in the PDF are "Lecture Notes on", "GRAPH THEORY". I cut those out and pasted them into a file name - this resulted in a file name of "Lecture notes on". I didn't get the error message you refer to.


If I cut out all the text on the first page, this includes "email:" and ":" is one of those characters that is not allowed in file names (in Windows filesystems)

share|improve this answer
Sorry, I wasn't at all clear in my question, but I do understand this part. The thing is, I don't see any of these symbols in my file names. I have updated the question to be clear. – Graphth Oct 14 '11 at 16:55
@Graphth: I can't reproduce your problem (see update to answer) - where are you getting the title from? (and what is it?) – RedGrittyBrick Oct 14 '11 at 17:06

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.