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This is really puzzling. I have lots of videos that were stored using Mac OS, and now I have to edit them on Windows XP. I copied files using HFSExplorer. Editing software refuses to open the files with their current names, and so far I have not found a way to batch rename all the files.

Names of the files look like this:

clip-2009-10-01 21;26;

But I suspect in OSX the time was 21:26:00.

I would like to replace the space with an underscore, and semicolons with dash.

I've tried several bulk rename applications, with ; and :, but in vain. Also I've tried, but also in vain.

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if the names are all fixed format you could do it with a batch file. But you best bet will be a tool like "John T" said. – Matthew Whited Oct 1 '09 at 18:55
i'm getting the suspicion that the filenames are not actually "clip-2009-10-01 21;26;" even though they look like that. Win systems disallow ":" as a filename character, but other filesystems allow it. If the filename was actually "clip-2009-10-01", Windows would NOT display it correctly (would probably display the ":"s as ";"s). Manual renaming would still work. SOME of these tools that you've found not to work might work if you tried replacing ":" with "-". – quack quixote Oct 2 '09 at 16:57
Thanks for an interesting insight. I tried Bulk Rename Utility and Lupas but both failed also with :. – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 7:38
ok, two more ideas, one would be failsafe if this we've got the problem diagnosed correctly. see my answer. – quack quixote Oct 4 '09 at 9:09
also, this is very similar to this question:… – quack quixote Oct 4 '09 at 10:02

11 Answers 11

up vote 4 down vote accepted


We're under the assumption that "clip-2009-10-01 21;26;" is not the actual filename; one possibility is that the actual filename is "clip-2009-10-01". However, we can't verify that under Windows.

We may not need to.

Failsafe Method:

Boot to a Linux LiveCD. Ubuntu 9.04 has good NTFS support, and Linux handles a lot more wonky-characters-in-filenames than Windows. The perl rename script may be included as the system's rename command.

This-Might-Actually-Work Batch Method (New Script!)

The DOS command DIR/X shows short filenames, if they exist on your system.

$ cmd
c:\test> dir /x
 Volume in drive E is NUVOL
 Volume Serial Number is 80D3-A96D

 Directory of e:\tor\test

10/04/2009  05:15 AM    <DIR>                       .
10/04/2009  05:15 AM    <DIR>                       ..
10/04/2009  05:11 AM                 0 CLIP-2~1.MOV clip-2009-10-01 21;26;
               1 File(s)              0 bytes
               2 Dir(s)   5,201,670,144 bytes free

If they do exist, the REN command will move them to a new name; the new name can be a new (valid) long filename.

c:\test> ren CLIP-2~1.MOV ""

That's how to fix one.

To batch process all of them, you need to 1) grab a listing of all the files you want to move; 2) run a short perl script to convert your listing into a batch file with the appropriate REN commands; and 3) run the resulting batch script.

c:\test> dir /x > mybrokenfiles.lst  
$ cat mybrokenfiles.lst | perl -lne 'next if not /MOV/; s/^.{1,39}//; s/^/ren /; s/ (\d\d);(\d\d);(\d\d)/_$1-$2-$3/; print' > fixmybrokenfiles.bat  
c:\test> fixmybrokenfiles.bat

The perl commandline assumes a very particular input format, so if the DOS listing shows long filenames in something other than the "21;26;" format, it probably won't do exactly what you want. If you try it, double-check that the batch script looks right before running it.

If you are comfortable with perl (or sed/awk, python, whatever), you can script this yourself. But if DIR/X doesn't show the short filenames, your system has them disabled, and this solution won't help.

Original answer: not useful with what we know now, but if you copy this sort of file off of OSX again, you can use this BEFORE the copy as a preventative step.

I use the commandline a lot on both Windows and Linux systems. There's a handy perl script floating around the internet that allows batch file renames using standard perl regex's (google for to find it).

Under Cygwin on windows, use this in the directory your files are located in to rename them:

$ ls
clip-2009-10-01 21;26;

$ 'tr/ ;/_-/;' * 
$ ls

Pretty sure my version came from the Perl Cookbook:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
# rename - Larry's filename fixer
$op = shift or die "Usage: rename expr [files]\n";
chomp(@ARGV = <STDIN>) unless @ARGV;
for (@ARGV) {
    $was = $_;
    eval $op;
    die $@ if $@;
    rename($was,$_) unless $was eq $_;
share|improve this answer
Note cygwin is not a requirement for this; I believe ActivePerl or any other Windows Perl interpreter would work as well. – quack quixote Oct 1 '09 at 20:08
I tried that already, but it doesn't do the trick. Name of the file isn't changed. I'm starting to think there is something strange in my environment, I just don't have a clue what. – tputkonen Oct 2 '09 at 16:04
Which version? cygwin or activeperl? if cygwin, what perl version? my example usage was an actual test on your filename, so it worked for me. – quack quixote Oct 2 '09 at 16:54
Cygwin. The issue may be that the file was copied from OSX. Please see the comments to original question. – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 7:38
Renaming the short files works - thanks for the tip! – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 17:59

Check out Rename Master, it has a myriad of ways to manipulate filenames in batch. You'll want to check out the replace tab.

alt text

Rename Master is freeware.

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Lupas Rename is a FREEWARE program developed to rename a big number of files. It works on Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2K and WinXP. It is a simple .EXE file and doesn't need any other external libraries.

Here are some of the features :

  • Rename files and folders
  • Rename files in recursive subdirectories
  • Shell Integration (right click on a folder in the explorer to start LupasRename on these folder)
  • Instant Preview (Optional)
  • Undo the last rename operation
  • Make a Batch file to rename from a DOS Console
  • Make a Batch file for UNDO operation from a DOS Console
  • Save and Load your options into an INI File
  • Filter by any masks: .mp3;.mp2 or ???a*.txt...
  • Replace a substring by other with Matchcase Optional
  • Replace a substring by other with Matchcase Optional in Extension

alt text

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When I click rename, it says "The system cannot find the file specified." – tputkonen Oct 2 '09 at 16:05
I just tried it without any problem. You should select all the files to rename and do it in 2 steps: (1) Replace the text [space] with this new text [_] then Rename (2) Same for ; to - – harrymc Oct 2 '09 at 20:24
The issue may be that the file was copied from OSX. Please see the comments to original question. – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 7:39
Lupas Rename has an action called Remove accents. Maybe this will normalize the file names a bit. If not, File Boss is another renamer with 30-days trial :…. – harrymc Oct 4 '09 at 15:35

Just do this in mac or linux. This will rename all files and folders with a : to a -

find . -depth -exec rename 's/:/-/g' * {}\;
share|improve this answer

Total commander includes a batch renaming tool named Multi-Rename Tool (default shortcut is Ctrl+M).

In your case you can rename the files by running process twice, once to replace space and once to replace semicolon.

Other way is to use rename mask - select range before space, add underscore, then range after the space, while replacing semi colon with dash using Search and replace.

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Similar to a couiple of the other solutions, Bulk Rename Utility is a utility that'll do the job. I find it very useful and easy to use for my bulk file re-naming needs.

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It doesn't work for me. As you can see from the "new name" column, it doesn't replace ; with _: If I click rename, it says the file didn't require name change. – tputkonen Oct 2 '09 at 16:10
Tested ok for me (under Win 7 64bit), admittedly with a text file I just renamed to same-as your filename rather than an actual mov file created under OSX. – Bonus Oct 3 '09 at 11:30

What are the permissions on the file? Are you sure you have permission to rename them? If not, take ownership of the files and try again.

share|improve this answer
good thought, and something to check on the "check simple stuff first" principle, but he mentioned this error from one of the tools: "The system cannot find the file specified." i'd expect permissions problems to give a different error. – quack quixote Oct 4 '09 at 12:29
There is no issue with the permissions. Thanks for bringing this up though as I forgot to mention it. – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 13:50

Interesting problem.

You can write your own custom script. Here is one script that will work. It will REPLACE ALL COLONS, SEMICOLONS, SPACES WITH UNDERSCORE. I will assume the files are in E:/ and the names follow the pattern of clip*.mov. You can change this values in the script to your correct values. You can customize the script even further, if you wish.

# Script Mac2WindowsFileTransfer.txt
# Go to directory where files are stored.
cd "E:/"                                     ### CHANGE THIS TO YOUR CORRECT VALUE. ###
# Get a list of clip*.mov files.
var str list ; lf -rng "clip*.mov" > $list   ### CHANGE THIS TO YOUR CORRECT VALUE. ###
# Go thru files one by one.
while ($list <> "")
    # Get the next file.
    var str file
    lex "1" $list > $file
    # Create the new name.
    var str newname
    stex -p "^/^l[" $file > $newname
    while ( { sen -r "^(\:\; )^" $newname } > 0 )
        sal -r "^(\:\; )^" "_" $newname
    # Rename file.
    system rename ("\""+$file+"\"") $newname

Save the script as C:/Scripts/Mac2WindowsFileTransfer.txt. The script is in biterscripting ( ). You can download biterscripting free. Run the by typing the following command in biterscripting.

script "C:/Scripts/Mac2WindowsFileTransfer.txt"


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Use a Linux live CD to get to the folder with said files and then:

rename -v 's/\:|\*|\?|\"//g' "{}" \; *.mov

This will remove most of what Windows didn't want. E.g.


will become:

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Myself, I like @~quack's answer. +1.

But, for posterity, here's what I was going to post.

I've been using StExBar in Stefan's Tools for a good while now. It adds a toolbar to the Windows Explorer with several handy functions.

(He has several tools, but this specific one is StExBar)

You can accomplish your requested rename with two simple commands. Here's a screenshot of the first, which shows you a preview of the files being renamed, and what they will be renamed.

enter image description here

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Under the assumption that the file-names contain weird and invisible characters, the way to proceed is to use DOS names of the old 8.3 format. To find out these names use the -x parameter:


Now use the short name to rename the file:

ren CLIP-2~1.MOV ""

If you use copy-paste to rename the file, be careful not to propagate the weird characters, so don't leave blank characters in the new name (because they might not really be blank).

share|improve this answer
Thanks, this seems to work. However, I have to come up with a script as it's possible to rename them manually also in Explorer. – tputkonen Oct 4 '09 at 17:59

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