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Rename directory from command line

In Renaming files from command line we saw how to rename files using Rename command.   We can use Rename command to rename directories too. See the syntax below.

Rename  dir_oldname  dir_newname


G:\data>mkdir dir1
G:\data>dir /b
G:\data>rename dir1 dir2
G:\data>dir /b

Note that, with rename command, we can’t move the files to another drive or directory. This command just renames the existing file/folder and does not create a new file.  That is why it does not accept full path for the target file name. If you try to do that you will get the error – “The syntax of the command is incorrect.


C:\docs>ren 1.txt c:\docs\2.txt
The syntax of the command is incorrect.

The below rename command works fine.

C:\docs>ren c:\docs\1.txt 2.txt
C:\docs>dir /b

We can also use ren (the short form of rename) for rename operations.  Both Ren and Rename refer to the same command.

This command can be used to rename files or directories on all Windows OS editions i.e Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Thai January 19, 2011, 3:41 am

    Can we use wildcats when renaming directories

  • Sumeeth Tewar February 4, 2011, 6:29 am

    rename *.txt *.doc
    will definetely work :)
    it does accept wild cards.

  • Techblogger February 4, 2011, 5:13 pm

    Thanks for correcting me Sumith. Removed my earlier comment.

  • Anonymous May 25, 2011, 11:38 am

    how do you deal with spaces in the directory you need to rename?

  • Techblogger May 25, 2011, 11:43 am

    Specify the directory name in quotes. See below examples

    ren "directory with spaces" newdir

    ren "directory with spaces" "another directory with spaces"

  • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 6:46 pm

    In Win 7 you cannot rename directories! It just returns “Access denied”

  • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 6:48 pm

    Please ignore my previous comment. rename works fine.

  • Guillaume Drolet October 11, 2012, 3:51 am

    What causes Access denied exactly? I somehow got it to work. I used rename then I tried again move and move was working after that. I have no idea what I was doing wrong because I tried everything I did at first with move and it didn’t give me access denied again.

    Of course I did start the command prompt with administrator rights (well at first I didn’t but I restarted it with admin rights and it was still giving me the same error)

  • Prasad Shetty December 28, 2012, 10:56 pm


  • Nathan November 16, 2015, 4:08 am

    Thanks this helped a lot, we have a network and I “think” the back up here sometimes locks files even though nobody has them open.

    @Guillaume Drolet I got “Access denied” when the folder was highlighted in Explorer.
    Not sure if that’s what caused it.

  • Owen February 11, 2016, 3:11 am

    Wildcards in W7 do NOT work.

    For example:
    ren *.RDX *.REP from within the relevant folder (not root) gets ‘syntax error’.

    Also tried:
    ren ??????.RDX ??????.REP with same result….

  • Doug March 1, 2016, 5:56 pm

    You must use cmd in administrator mode. Right click on cmd and select run as administrator

  • Gandalf Messenger May 25, 2016, 9:06 am


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