Batch file renaming, extension changing (bash, find, & awk)

I had a ton of files on a remote server I needed to change the extension on. ¬†Using find -exec didn’t seem like the right solution after a couple minutes of Googling so I decided to use my favorite trick of bash pipes, awk, and sh. Below I’ll show you the one-liner I used and then we’ll break it down and explain what we’re doing.

The Command:

find . -name '*.html' | awk '{printf "mv "$0; sub(/html/,"php"); print " "$0}' | sh

The Breakdown:

We’ll start by breaking up the command into it’s individual pieces

find . -name '*.html'

First we find all of the files matching our search, in this example we’re looking for all files in our current directory (including sub-directories, find is recursive by default)

awk '{printf "mv "$0; sub(/html/,"php"); print " "$0;}'

Here we take the input coming out of find via a pipe. We’ll essentially use that output to write a shell command on the fly. Since this command looks kind of messy we’ll break it down piece by piece

1: awk '{
2:      printf "mv "$0;
3:      sub(/html/,"php");
4:      print " "$0;
5:     }'

line 1:
Call awk and begin our program with


line 2:
Output the first part of our “on the fly” shell command (note we use printf to suppress the default newline included in print)

mv 1.html

line 3:
Modify the input

1.html ==> 1.php

line 4:
Output the now modified input of our “on the fly” shell command (and here we use print, because that default newline is wanted)


line 5:
Close our awk program


let’s look at some example input and output

$ ls
10.html  1.html  2.html  3.html  4.html  5.html  6.html  7.html  8.html  9.html

$ find . -name '*.html' | awk '{printf "mv "$0; sub(/html/,"php"); printf " "$0"\n"}'
mv 10.html 10.php
mv 1.html 1.php
mv 2.html 2.php
mv 3.html 3.php
mv 4.html 4.php
mv 5.html 5.php
mv 6.html 6.php
mv 7.html 7.php
mv 8.html 8.php
mv 9.html 9.php

Now that we have our commands being written by awk all we have to do is redirect their output into sh for execution.

and that’s it, you’re done.
See that wasn’t so bad. It’s worth noting this technique can use a standard ls if you’re doing a blanket rename. It’s also worth noting this technique can be expanded even further to allow all types of renaming/batching logic. I’ve used a technique much like this for doing batch video conversion, log renaming, etc.