If you have downloaded or received files or folders on your computer, most times renaming them is a good idea to help keep things organized. Here is how to rename a file or folder in Windows 10, step by step.

Microsoft has refined the user experience of handling files in Windows over the decades. So renaming them is pretty straight forward.

It doesn’t matter what type of file or folder you are working with, the procedure is the same.

Follow these steps to rename file(s) or folder(s):

This is the fastest way to rename a file or folder.

Info Nibble: Before you attempt to rename a file, make sure that it’s not open or being used in another program that’s running.

1. Open Windows File Explorer

Open Windows File Explorer (Windows key + ‘E’) and navigate to your file.

2. Select ‘Rename’ from the contextual menu

By moving your mouse pointer to hover over the file or folder and pressing the right-hand mouse button, it will cause a new menu to pop open.

This specific menu is called a contextual menu.

how to rename a file
How to Rename a File
rename folder
How to Rename a Folder

Whether you need to rename a file or a folder, the process is the same.

And it doesn’t matter where the it’s located. Whether it’s on your desktop, or if you are viewing it via the file explorer, it works the same way.

Simply left-click on the ‘Rename’ menu item and you will be able to edit the name.

The alternative keyboard method is to press F2 once you have selected the file.

You can enter most characters, except these (Known as illegal characters) :

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • : (colon)
  • ” (double quote)
  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  • ? (question mark)
  • * (asterisk)
rename text box

3. Edit text to update the filename or folder

Once you have typed in the new name, you can press enter on your keyboard to save it.

As you can see, it’s dead easy. Now you know how to rename files and folders quickly and easily without installing any extra software.

When trying to rename doesn’t work

If a message comes up when you try to rename the file or folder, obviously something else is wrong.

Common occurrences of this are when the file is open in another program. If this is the case, close all other programs that are open and try again. If this still doesn’t work, try restarting your computer and repeat the process.

The other common problem is user access rights or file attribute settings. But that’s something for another article in itself.

If you have a backup copy of it somewhere, you also have the option to delete it. But please make sure that you have a backup copy first, before even considering this idea.

Related Questions

How to Batch Rename Files

When it comes to having to rename a bunch of files, I would recommend a freeware application called ReNamer. Simply download and install it to set rules for a batch of files.

You can even see a preview of the changes before they get made.

Yes, there are ways to do it Windows natively, but using this application is much more user-friendly and gives you better control.

How do I get permission to rename a file?

You will have to change the file permissions while logged into the administrator account. Right-click on the file and left click on properties. Then click on the Security tab to access the permissions.

From there, click on Edit, Add, Advanced, Find Now. Then Left click once on ‘Everyone’ and click on ‘Ok’. Then make sure ‘Full control’ is checked under the ‘Allow’ column.

Conclusion

I hope that you know how to rename files after this article. It’s straight forward and a very commonly used function in everyday computing.

If you are wanting to rename the extension of the filename, please refer to our other article on how to change file types.

Windows makes it easy and now you can go forth and organize all your files and folders with the proper names. Staying organized makes using your computer enjoyable.

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