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Tips & Tricks

When and How to Rename Your Files in Lightroom

By Trevor Dayley on February 29th 2016

It makes total sense to think that the best time to rename your final images is upon export, but let me show you why this method may not be the most advantageous for you and provide you an alternative way to renaming and organizing your files.

When and How to Rename Your Files in Lightroom Video

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Renaming Your Files in Lightroom

When you’re ready to make your final JPEG exports after working on a wedding or portrait session, renaming your files at this time will save your images with names that no longer match your RAWs in Lightroom. This ends up presenting us with a potential problem. If clients were to call and ask to have additional edits made to their images, referencing the exact image will prove to be difficult as you may go back to the file number your client referred to but it ends up being something completely different. Not only does this cause an unnecessary issue but it also potentially makes an extra step for your clients to have to send you the picture they’re talking about.

So instead, after having completed all of my edits in my Lightroom module, I select all of the images I would like to export. Then, I press F2 on a PC (Function + F2 on a Mac) to pull up the Rename dialog box. I like to have my images renamed with a 4 digit number sequence so that my images are in consecutive order.

If you do not have that option, you can edit and create your own export preset.


Here we are making sure we can always set our custom text and the correct number sequence.


Now when you export your JPEG files, their names will appear the same as your RAW files and things are now easier for you to find for yourself and for your clients.



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Trevor Dayley is a full-time wedding photographer based out of Arizona. He has six kids and has been married for 15 years. When he is not shooting weddings, he loves helping the photo industry. He has written hundreds of articles and shared countless tutorials. In 2014, he was named one of the Top 30 Most Influential Photographers in the Industry and one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers by BrandSmash.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. William Irwin

    You can do this at the point of importing your files. It reduces one extra step and all your images are numbered the way you want. Only downside to doing this at the point of import is during culling, you will have “missing” numbers in sequence. If your culling pulled many images, then you can simply rename as Trevor explained.

    For the Custom text, I always put in my job number. The Job number corresponds to what is on my envelope which I put my DVDs of the raw files in that job number along with finished images. For the sequence numbers… start at say 0001. For each job, just pick up from that sequence from the previous job so you can avoid accidentally overwriting the images.

    Doing things this way also makes things so much easier if you also submit your work to stock agencies as this will match their requests for labeling.

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    • Matthew Saville

      The problem with this is, yeah, if you don’t RE-rename the photos once you’re done editing, the client will clearly be able to tell that you shot ~3,000 images yet are only delivering ~1,000, for example.

      This is why, IMO, the best way to do it is to solve filename overlap problems in-camera by using cameras that allow you to change the filename prefix to a 3-letter/digit code, then an underscore, then a four (five?) digit number. So, for example, my primary camera is MS1_9999, and my backup / 2nd camera is MS2_9999, and even if the two cameras overlap numerically during a wedidng, they’ll never over-write each other at import.

      Unless I’m shooting more than ten thousand images on a single camera at an event, in which case, YOWZA, I’ve got bigger problems.

      I prefer to NEVER rename at the time of import, unless it retains the original filename within the new name, so that the memory card verification and formatting process can be effortless and fail-proof.

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