Name Mangler review: The file renamer for Mac power users

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At a Glance
  • Many Tricks Name Mangler 3.3

    Macworld Rating

If you deal with lots of files (and who doesn’t?), there are surely times when you have to rename a whole bunch of them at the same time. (A classic example: a bunch of image files with less-than-helpful names such as IMG_0001.jpg, IMG_0002.jpg, IMG_0003.jpg, and so on.) Plenty of Mac utilities exist that’ll help you rename files in batches—for example, we reviewed A Better Finder Rename a little while ago. But we haven’t looked at one of our favorites, Name Mangler from Many Tricks, since version 2 back in 2008. Name Mangler is now up to version 3.3, and it’s changed quite a bit.

What hasn’t changed: Name Mangler still lets you select a batch of files and rename them in a variety of ways. The current roster of renaming modes include Find and Replace (which can take advantage of regular expressions); Sequence (attaching numbers or letters in order); Add Prefix or Add Suffix (which can now take advantage of over 150 types of file metadata); Insert (ditto with the metadata); Remove (take out a certain number of characters, starting at a specified position in the current name); Change Case (to lower case, upper case, and so on); and Advanced. The last one lets you create new filenames using a kind of scripting language that supports constants and functions, including logical connectors such as if, and, not, and or.

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Name Mangler's Sequence option lets you rename files in order, but it lets you sort those files by only one criterion at a time.

But there are lot of little things that have changed—mostly for the better—since we looked at Name Mangler 2.

For starters, the app has support for new OS X features, such as Notification Center and Mavericks tags. Many Tricks also claims that the utility is 50 to 100 times faster, depending on the operation—fast enough to rename more than 2,000 files per second. (We didn’t test this claim.) There’s also a new renaming option called Compose, which lets you build entirely new names out of the aforementioned file metadata. And Name Mangler now supports multi-step renaming actions—you can use drag-and-drop actions to reorder those steps, and, as always, a preview shows you what your new filenames will look like.

There are lots of other smaller improvements throughout the app, including a new suffix option when you rename by sequence; new date and time formats (yyyy and yyyy-MM, and HH-mm and HH-mm-ss, respectively); and a title-case option when you use the Change Case mode. There are also a bunch of new tools for Advanced-mode scripts, including new functions and variables and the capability to pause scripts to prompt for user input.

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Name Mangler warns you if a renaming operation will result in duplicate filenames.

The user interface has also been revamped, with more options for tweaking the app’s appearance (light or dark backgrounds, for example) and better user feedback. One particularly nice example of the latter is that status “lights” now appear next to proposed new filenames to alert you to potential duplicates or other problems. There are also now more ways to add files to the file list (including copying and pasting, dragging and dropping, or choosing from File > Open). You can now select multiple files for removal or rearrangement; and you can save configurations via Box or Dropbox, or use a history browser to access prior renaming actions.

As I noted when reviewing A Better Finder Rename (ABFR), both it and Name Mangler are solid, powerful tools for batch-renaming files. In that review, I gave ABFR a slight edge over Name Mangler for the clarity of its interface. It also provides a few options that Name Mangler doesn’t, such as the capability to sort files by two criteria rather than just one before renaming them sequentially, and more fine-grained control when searching for and replacing a specific string of text.

But Name Mangler remains the more powerful tool, thanks in large part to its Advanced mode. If you’re a power user, and you’re willing to put in the time to learn that mode, Name Mangler will be your renamer of choice. Even if you aren’t, you may prefer it for the relative compactness of its interface and its fast, efficient performance.

[Disclaimer: Rob Griffiths, one of the people behind Many Tricks, is a senior contributor to Macworld.]

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Name Mangler is a file-renaming utility with power, and version 3 offers a number of nice improvements.

    Pros

    • Script-like Advanced mode
    • Support for regular expressions
    • Can incorporate more than 150 kinds of metadata when renaming

    Cons

    • Interface can be obscure at times
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