I've got a bunch of files named with a the pattern 99 - DescriptiveName.txt and I'd like to remove the number from the front so I just have DescriptiveName.txt.

How can I do this? Can I do it from the command line or is there a utility that can do this?


24 Answers 24


I know in your title you say "in dos" but I get the impression you are just looking for a way to do this and are wondering if that is the best way.

The absolute best tool I have found for this is Bulk Rename Utility.

Bulk Rename Utility

It isn't a command line tool, but they do have a command line version if you really want to use it that way.

I've used the GUI version a lot, and it is very powerful, very fast and extremely easy to use.

Oh, and it is FREE for personal use.

  • Unfortunately the tool isn't free for commercial use :(
    – AntonK
    Oct 28, 2017 at 8:47
  • That is why I said it was free for personal use. Oct 30, 2017 at 21:16
  • 2
    This is super-quick tool. It solved my 6.000 files issue in seconds, using several search-and-replace logics. Is like using Notepad++ but editing thousands of files. A great solution, thanks!
    – Peanuts
    Jul 25, 2018 at 19:06

A small PowerShell script:

$args | Rename-Item -NewName { $_.Name.ToLower() -replace '\d+ - ' }

Combined with more complex regular expressions, this might become something like:

ls | Rename-Item -NewName {$_ -replace '(\d+) - (.*)\.mp3$', '$2 - $1.mp3' }

Which turns things like '01 - Beginning.mp3' into 'Beginning - 01.mp3'.

Use the -WhatIf parameter on Rename-Item to check renames before you issue them.

  • 1
    @sysrqb, please research a little more.
    – Joey
    Jan 14, 2014 at 9:51
  • Does replace not require two string expressions? The second one has two, the first one does not. ... -replace '\d+ - ',''. Also, I believe the first one is better, simply stripping off the beginning using regex. Though I believe you should include the ^ anchor at the beginning of the expression so it only matches names beginning with numbers.
    – Jeter-work
    Aug 8, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Xalorous: Well, you could simply try it out. -replace can have just one argument on the right side, in which case the second one is implicitly the empty string.
    – Joey
    Aug 8, 2016 at 20:00
  • 2
    This saved me .. Bulk Rename Utility just crashes now and I tried so many other solutions. This is way better for people who are comfortable with regexp. Thank you so much !! Aug 6, 2018 at 20:03

If you really want to use the windows command line (if you don't want to download something), you could do it like this:

dir /B > fileList.txt
for /f "tokens=1,2,3" %i in (fileList.txt) DO ren "%i %j %l" %l

The first line outputs the list of files into a file called fileList.txt. The second line separates each of the names in the list into 3 parts, the #, the "-" and the rest of the name. For each of those it does the rename command.

  • 3
    Remove the first line to simplify it and do: for /f "tokens=1,2,3" %i in ('dir /B') DO ren "%i %j %l" %l
    – user387876
    Jan 7, 2015 at 18:38
  • 2
    I know this is old but it is still a solid answer -- only the %l (%L) should be %k (%K) [tokens increment from %i (%I) so I, J, K...] Jun 18, 2018 at 3:04

AntRenamer makes it quite easy to define a pattern of renaming; there are plenty of ones already prepared (and it gives a preview of the actions):


Free for personal and commercial use.


old school:

You can do a DIR and redirect the output to a file, as in DIR *.TXT >TEMP.BAT

Then use an editor to take out what you don't need and modify the parts you do need. Add an "@echo off" as the top line, save it and run it.

  • I got this page reference from an old-school doctorate in this: dostips.com/DosCommandIndex.htm; It is amazing what you can do with (good?) old DOS!
    – nik
    Aug 7, 2009 at 17:28
  • use dir /b to get bare file names too Mar 3, 2023 at 17:37

Another option: Massive File Renamer

It allows to easily rename multiple files and file extensions. It's very fast and simple!

For advanced users and developers, it is possible to use regular expressions.

See it in action:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Btw how can we select it to open all the files within subfolders? I've got a root folder with roughly 50 subfolders (recursively) and multiple files within them.
    – Pacerier
    Nov 11, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    @Pacerier I think the Java file chooser does not allow that. I had the idea of allow selecting a folder and recursive search can be included. I will note that and add it in a future release!
    – IvanRF
    Nov 11, 2015 at 20:34
  • 1
    Killer one, took me 4 seconds to understand how it works, 8 seconds to type the regex, took 1 sec to rename thousands of files. Super nice and easy, thanks !
    – Benj
    Nov 16, 2019 at 22:12

I use Total Commander's multi-rename tool (ctrl+M) for things like this. Their useful tool, one of too many to count, is easy to use, and can also employ regular expressions and templates if necessary. Oh, and it obviously gives you a preview before making any changes.

This is the third or fourth question I've answered recommending Total Commander... I should be getting a commission from them ;-)


The tool that I've been satisfied with is ReNamer. It supports also the saving of renaming rules, which has been useful to me, as I many times do the same renamings.

Below is an example of how to delete text before the first dash, but there are loads of other rules you can define.

enter image description here


For advanced users and developers, I would suggest RegexRenamer.

RegexRenamer screenshot


  • Very simple UI;
  • Regular expressions that the developers familiar with;
  • GPLv2;


  • It's not a command line! :)
  • Could not make it work recursively for all subfolders of the selected folder!
    – Luckylooke
    Sep 13, 2018 at 9:51

I've used Free Commander Portable (freeware) for this to good effect:

  1. Select or Navigate to the files or directories to rename
  2. Press [Ctrl-M] (or File > Multi-rename)
  3. fill out the fields as makes sense for your circumstance
  4. verify the preview shows what you expect
  5. Go!

Here's a command-line solution --- a Java program I wrote specifically to make it easy to work with "patterns" in filenames. It's free and open source, so feel free to modify it:


Some relevant usage examples:

Drop everything before the "-" in the filename:

java -jar RenameWand.jar  "<a> - <b>"  "<b>"

Prepend a 3-digit number to the filename, sorting by last-modified time:

java -jar RenameWand.jar  "<a>"  "<3|#FT> <a>"

Rearrange parts of the filename, and change case:

java -jar RenameWand.jar  "<album> - <artist> - <song>.<ext>" 
                          "<artist.upper> <album.title> - <song>.<ext.lower>"

The easiest way would be to use Rename Master.


I discovered RenPhoric about a month ago. Superb. And it's free.

No complicated interface and I was quickly able to rename exactly as I wanted. Regular Expression capable. Haven't used anything else since.


Like @zdan above, I did this by command line (using "cmd.exe" in Windows). It took some tinkering for my particular case, but a little research solved it.

Like zdan, I output the list to a TXT file, then used tokens and delims to rename the files accordingly. In my case, I started out with a list of files named like so:


I wanted the file date portion to be in y/m/d order, with the "name" part at the end so it would read like this:


To do this en-masse, I used the following code. Note that when doing it this way, ALL parts of the filename are considered, including the extension of ".csv". That goofed me up the first time around.

dir /B > fileList.txt
for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4,5 delims=-." %i in (fileList.txt) DO ren "%i-%j-%k-%l.%m" %l-%j-%k-%i.%m

The tokens are the "parts" of the filename, the delims are the separators. Note that in my case, I had 2 delimiters (a dash and a dot).

I personally don't care for the "Bulk Rename" app. As others have mentioned, the GUI is atrocious and not very intuitive. With a little research and simple coding, these things can be done much mroe efficiently and quickly.


I like Cylog’s WildRename. It is powerful, yet easy to use, and has a lot of features:

  1. fast
  2. string manipulation
  3. counters
  4. wildcards
  5. regular expressions
  6. substitution
  7. case-conversion
  8. logging
  9. simulation (show the results without actually applying them)

enter image description here


Funny name and command line tool very powerful, very fast and extremely easy to use. "Find And Replace Text" FART http://fart-it.sourceforge.net/ WORKS GREAT! can rename words in txt files too.


Usage: FART [options] [--] <wildcard>[,...] [find_string] [replace_string]

 -h --help          Show this help message (ignores other options)
 -q --quiet         Suppress output to stdio / stderr
 -V --verbose       Show more information
 -r --recursive     Process sub-folders recursively
 -c --count         Only show filenames, match counts and totals
 -i --ignore-case   Case insensitive text comparison
 -v --invert        Print lines NOT containing the find string
 -n --line-number   Print line number before each line (1-based)
 -w --word          Match whole word (uses C syntax, like grep)
 -f --filename      Find (and replace) filename instead of contents
 -B --binary        Also search (and replace) in binary files (CAUTION)
 -C --c-style       Allow C-style extended characters (\xFF\0\t\n\r\\ etc.)
    --cvs           Skip cvs dirs; execute "cvs edit" before changing files
 -a --adapt         Adapt the case of replace_string to found string
 -b --backup        Make a backup of each changed file
 -p --preview       Do not change the files but print the changes
  • Some more details? Does it rename files?
    – vonbrand
    Mar 30, 2013 at 20:38
  • Yes, -f option, as listed. Sep 3, 2017 at 12:47

Multi rename script is a open source alternative to Total Commanders Multi Rename tool which you could drive via script. It can use TC plugins for metadata information.

https://code.google.com/p/multi-rename-script/ http://multi-rename-script.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/docs/res/MRS.PNG

@echo off
setlocal enabledelayedexpansion
set X=5
for %%f in (*) do if %%f neq %~nx0 (
    set "filename=%%~nf"
    set "filename=!filename:~%X%!"
    ren "%%f" "!filename!%%~xf"

save this in a batch file and run

  • This is good, but how may I be able to make the X a variable (pass as a parameter)?
    – Kangkan
    Jun 2, 2015 at 15:31
  • @Kangkan like this: set /p "X=Enter the value for X: "
    – Kidquick
    Apr 12, 2018 at 14:51

I use Blackboard to administer courses in a University. When I download an assignment in mass (in Blackboard, click top of grading column, then "assignment file download" Blackboard adds a bunch of extra stuff to the file name -often making the file name too long to be valid on Windows.

Here's what they look like:


And this is what I wanted


So I used the approach that @zdan and @gtr1971 advised, by opening a command window on the folder with the files inside (CMD.EXE). Then run this command to put all file names in a document.

dir /b >filelist.txt

Edit the document and remove folder names, etc.

Use this command to replace the Blackboard added filename stuff with just the username and file extension.

for /f "tokens=1,2,3,4,5,6 delims=_." %i in (filelist.txt) do ren "%i _%j_%k_%l_%m.%n" %j.%n

Hope this helps someone else as well.


Here's another simple program called File Attribute Changer that you can use to rename files. It's a portable program, so you can carry it on a USB drive.



I have developed a hybrid JScript/batch command line utility called JREN.BAT that can rename files or folders by performing a regular expression search and replace on the names. It is pure script that will run natively on any Windows machine from XP forward. Full documentation is embedded within the script.

Assuming JREN.BAT is in your current directory, or better yet, somewhere within your path, then your rename task becomes trivial.

jren "^\d+[ -]+(.+)\.txt$" "$1" /i


jren "^\d+[ -]+(?=.+\.)" "" /fm "*.txt"

There are many options, including the /S option that recursively performs the rename on sub-directories.


PowerRename by Microsoft

I recommend PowerRename, one of Microsoft’s PowerToys utilities. You can see how robust it would be in that it’s from Microsoft.

The demonstration

PowerRename is a bulk renaming tool that enables you to:

  • modify the file names of a large number of files, without giving all of the files the same name.
  • perform a search and replace on a targeted section of file names.
  • perform a regular expression rename on multiple files.
  • check expected rename results in a preview window before finalizing a bulk rename.
  • undo a rename operation after it is completed.

If you need serious power and are willing to shell out the money... PowerGrep is one of the most powerful and versatile tools on the market... you can rename almost anything with PowerGrep... even binary search and replace... it's created by RegEx Guru, Jan Goyvaerts.

enter image description here

  • This utility is insanely expensive...
    – Wizard79
    Aug 8, 2015 at 18:30
  • You can use it free indefinitely... however, its worth it... I use it all the time. Aug 8, 2015 at 18:31

New Answer [2022]

For developers, there is a very easy way to do bulk rename files.


enter image description here Install batch rename extension inside vscode


enter image description here Open the folder in which your files are


enter image description here Select files you wanna rename, select the first file then hold Shift, and select last file all the files between will be selected or press Ctrl+Ain files tab.


enter image description here Rename your file.

Under-the-Hood - This creates a temporary txt file of your file names which is self-destructing after you rename the files.

Upvote so that more and more people can get the solution.

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