Renaming files

Expression Studio 2.0

Good digital asset management strategy starts with unique, meaningful file names. For creative professionals who can easily produce very large volumes of media in a relatively short period of time, this is especially important.

When an image collection grows past a thousand files, it is easy to have file name problems, such as having two images with the same file name. Most digital cameras have a sequential photo-numbering option. If this option is selected, every image will have a unique file name, such as DSC0211.jpg, DSC0212.jpg, DSC0213.jpg, and so on.

Sequential numbers let you move files around easily without having to rename them to avoid duplication. Sequential numbers are also useful when you must find other photos that were taken at the same time or in the same location.

A well-named file includes additional information, such as one or more of the following: the date, author, client name, project name, and subject of a photo shoot. It might also contain business-related information, such as product or part numbers.

Standardizing on a particular file-naming convention offers the following advantages for photo-management workflows:

  • It is difficult to create two files that have the same file name. This makes them easier to identify and reduces problems with duplication.

  • If you always include a standardized date in the file name, such as the Capture Date, you can easily locate a file.

  • With sequentially numbered files, a folder of images on your desktop is sorted automatically into chronological order.

  • Workgroups can use the same conventions, which promotes consistency across the organization and makes file retrieval easier.

  • By looking at just the file name, you will know a lot about the image (that is, the date created, person who took the image, subject or client, and where in the order of files it was created).

  • If you decide to switch image-management programs, or are running several database programs, important metadata can be derived from the file name.

Your file-naming convention should be specific to your business and archiving needs. For a large catalog of stock images, you could use the Dewey Decimal system or the U.S. Library of Congress system to identify the subject of the photographs. The key is to integrate the naming system into your workflow so that every file is named correctly before it ends up in an archive.

Ultimately, if you create and use specific file-naming guidelines, you and everyone you work with will be able to easily identify, locate, and share files.

File name examples

Name components


Client name, project, publication date, and sequential numbering.


Product name, product ID, and sequential numbering.


Client name, 6-digit date (YYMMDD), and sequential numbering.


Subject, 6-digit date (YYMMDD), slide ID (for scanned images).


Bride, groom, 6-digit date (YYMMDD), creator's initials, sequential numbering.


Job number, 6-digit date (YYMMDD), sequential numbering.


8-digit date (YYYYMMDD), subject code (Portrait) and sequential numbering.

To rename items, you can use the Date field because it uses the IPTC Date Created, the EXIF Capture Date, or the file Creation Date.

You can adjust the date using various tags:

MM = Month

DD = Day

YYYY = 4-digit year

YY = 2-digit year

hh = Hours

mm = Minutes

ss = Seconds

If you want to use your settings again, you can save them by using the Option Sets menu. Adjust the zero padding by defining the number of digits for sequential numbering.

File names are case-sensitive. Change case to lowercase, UPPERCASE, or Title Case.

The preview window shows a list of your files before and after you rename them.

Community Additions