Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Building a Better Image
by Alan German

In today's world, digital cameras are all pervasive, and readily produce hundreds of images. The problem is that, straight out of the camera, the files have non-intuitive names, such as IMG_0671.JPG and IMG_0672.JPG. So, we need to be able to change these to something meaningful (to us), like September_Vacation_001.jpg and September_Vacation_002.jpg.

Now, renaming a couple of files is easy, but what do we do if we have dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of images that we need to deal with? Clearly we need a batch file renamer. How about using – Batch File Renamer – a utility program from Ezyware Software? The program's About box indicates that you can rename or reset the attributes on up to one million files. Do you have a problem now?

Using the program is really easy. Just download and run the executable BatchFileRenamer.exe. It needs no installation. There is also no help file, but using the program is fairly intuitive. One caveat. There is no means to select a subset of files to rename within the program. Consequently, you need to arrange to have the specific group of files that you wish to rename in a given directory.

Once your directory of choice is established, you simply browse to the Source Directory of Files. Then, in the box marked Generate Destination File Names, replace the default “myFilename#” text with the file name of your choice.

Make sure that you leave the # sign in place, since this will generate the numerical sequence on the renamed files. Note that, in the example shown, the files are to be renamed as Adirondacks_Aug09_# in order to produce images named Adirondacks_Aug09_01, Adirondacks_Aug09_02, etc.

A drop-down menu for the file extension is initially set as .??? Leaving this setting retains the existing file extension which, for example, may be .JPG. Using the drop-down menu provides the option to create the file extension as .jpg, .png, .gif, .doc or .mp3. While this latter process creates a file extension in lower case, if you really want an upper case JPG, you can always use the Replace function later.

The next box displays a 0 by default, with a drop-down menu offering 00, 000, etc. options. This sets the format for the file numbering sequence. Numbering always starts at 1 but, if you choose the 00 formatting option, the numbers in the file names will appear in as 01, 02, etc. Note that this was the format selected in our example (i.e. Adirondacks_Aug09_01.jpg.)

You can preview the file names and extensions that will be created by clicking on the Generate button. If the new file names and extensions are going to be created just as you intended, click on the Start Renaming button in the lower-right corner of the window and – bingo! – all of your files now have new, and meaningful names.

The Replace function works similarly. Select a portion of the file name or extension to be modified and type this into the Replace box. In the next box (named With), type the text string that you would like to see instead. Click on the Replace button to see a preview, and click on Start Renaming to run the search and replace function.

There is also a Batch Command Line box in the lower-left corner of the program's window. By default, this contains the text Filecopy.exe Sourcefiles$ to c:\Temp\Destnames$ with an associated Execute button. I'm not sure what this does, or what this box is really intended to do, and I haven't been brave enough to try. Good luck if you do!

[OK – you're right – I couldn't resist hitting the Execute button. But, all I got for my trouble was the error message “Drive or File Error Encountered”.]

The only other selection box, marked Attributes, is in the top-right corner of the display window. This lets you set the file attributes as Normal, Read-Only, Hidden or System.

So, once you figure out how the program works, or at least how its main functions operate, Batch File Renamer does precisely what its name suggests, and does it very well. And, since it is freeware, it's well worth having this tool available for your digital image processing.

So, now we have dozens of files, all with understandable names. The next problem is that we would like to share some of these with our friends and relatives – but each of the files is 2-3 MB (or more) – which severely restricts how many can be sent by E-mail, and perhaps how many we can post to our limited web server space. What we need is an image resizer. (And, three guesses what our next utility is called!)

A completely different, but still completely free utility, that is a useful addition to your digital image toolbox is Image Resizer, one of the Microsoft Powertoys for XP. As its name suggests, this program was written for Windows XP. But, Vista users should not despair. A clone – the aptly named Image Resizer PowerToy Clone for Windows – is available from Sourceforge, released under the Open Source Initiative's Common Public License Version 1.0.

The clone works in the precisely same manner as its XP counterpart, but will also run under Vista and Windows 7, including the 64-bit versions of these operating systems. Since I am currently using 32-bit Vista as my Windows' platform, it is the operation of the associated clone that I will describe here.

The program is downloaded as an MSI file and hence needs to be installed before it can be used. Installation causes the utility to be hooked into Windows Explorer. It is then accessed by selecting one or more files, right-clicking, and choosing Resize Pictures. This opens up a dialogue box with a number of options.

In the program's basic operation mode, a series of radio buttons provide pre-set sizes for the images, ranging from Large (1024 x 768 pixels) to Handheld PC (240 x 320 pixels). Select one of these sizes, click OK, and a number of new, smaller files are created, with names like IMG_0617 (Small).JPG. In this mode, the original images files are left intact.

Clicking on the Advanced button provides a number of further options. Firstly, you can obtain custom sizing by specifying the width and height of the resized images in pixels. Secondly, two check boxes allow you to select options to “Make pictures smaller but not larger” and “Resize the original pictures (don't create copies)”.

The program is simple to use yet quite versatile. In particular, the ability to resize the images while retaining the original file name is highly desirable – for those of us who like clean naming conventions – and for those of us who backup our originals before modifying the pictures!

Custom image file names and custom image sizes. And, all for free. These two little utilities just have to find a place in your file management toolbox.


Bottom Line:

Batch File Renamer (Freeware)
Version 3.0
Ezyware Software
http://www.ezyware.com/

Image Resizer PowerToy Clone for Windows (Open Source)
Version 2.0
Brice Lambson
http://www.codeplex.com/PhotoToysClone

Image Resizer - Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP (Freeware)
Microsoft Corporation
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx


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