The REN or RENAME command in Windows CMD is used to rename one or more files and directories. It is a straightforward tool for managing file organization and can be utilized in a variety of settings such as scripting automation, daily file management, and batch processing tasks.


The basic syntax for the REN command is as follows:

REN [drive:][path]filename1 filename2
  • [drive:][path]filename1 specifies the current location and name of the file or directory.
  • filename2 specifies the new name for the file or directory.

To rename directories, the syntax is similar:

REN [drive:][path]directoryname1 directoryname2

Note that wildcards (e.g., * and ?) are supported for filename1 but not for filename2.


The REN command does not have additional flags or options. Its functionality is strictly limited to renaming specified files or directories. It is important to remember that it cannot be used to move files across different volumes or drives.


  1. Renaming a Single File:

    REN report.txt report_backup.txt

    This command renames report.txt to report_backup.txt in the same directory.

  2. Renaming Multiple Files:

    REN *.txt *.bak

    This will rename all .txt files in the directory to .bak with the same base file name.

  3. Renaming a Directory:

    REN oldfolder newfolder

    Renames oldfolder to newfolder within the same path.

Common Issues

  • Using Wildcards Incorrectly: When using wildcards for the source name, ensure not to use them in the destination name; they are not supported and will result in an error.

  • File Not Found: Mistyping file names or paths will result in a “File Not Found” error. Double-check the file names and paths.

  • Permission Issues: If you do not have proper permissions to modify a file or directory, the rename operation will fail. Ensure you have the necessary permissions.


REN can be combined with other commands for powerful batch files. For example, you may want to find specific files and rename them in one go:

FOR %i IN (*.docx) DO REN "%i" "%~ni_backup.docx"

This command loops through all .docx files in the current directory, renaming them to append _backup to their original filenames.

  • MOVE: Similar to REN, but also capable of moving files and directories across different directories and drives.
  • COPY: Copies files and directories, which can be renamed during copying with a new destination filename.

Additional Resources

For more detailed information, consult the Windows Command Line Reference available on the official Microsoft Documentation website: Windows Command Line Documentation

This manual provides a concise guide to the REN command suitable for new and experienced users aiming to enhance their file management tasks effectively using the Windows CMD environment.