The *BEST* PDF File Preview and Rename Utility

I haven’t got the time (yet) to finish off the Part 2 follow up article of my earlier piece on paperless workflow using the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. So I guess I will just spend 20 minutes or so to do a spin-off article today.

I wouldn’t normally say this but renaming PDF files is one of the most troublesome and tedious thing to do in a PC and this is an extremely time consuming event (to me) in a paperless workflow. Why do I say this? Let me try to illustrate this a bit better.

1. My ScanSnap scanner generate PDF files using the date + time naming convention. So a pdf file will be renamed to something like this – 2012_03_30_14_30_20.pdf. This naming convention is very functional in nature as it identifies the date and time when it was generated but it does not give any other information related to the actual content of the file.

If you have many PDF files in a folder (and each one is named based on the date + time naming convention), trying to find a particular file with a particular content in mind will be next to impossible (unless you index these PDF files and use a desktop search (such as Copernic Desktop Search). Renaming these PDFs to a more descriptive name is the only way to go to easily identify one from another in a folder.

2. Every now and then I will download new PDF files from the web. These could be technical catalogues, technical literature, user manuals, etc and you will be surprised that 99% of these PDF files never have filenames that are easily identifiable, unless you are a sidekick who happens to know what a PDF file named “1441979786PowerB.pdf” actually refers to. So again, renaming these PDFs to a more descriptive name is a must.

Now renaming PDF files is a very simple process by itself. You can use windows explorer or any file manager to do this. The problem is that without opening the PDF in a PDF viewer, it is not possible to tell what the file should be renamed to. You can load the PDF in Acrobat for instance but there is no built-in capability of Acrobat to rename a file once it is opened. You will need to open the file, understand what the PDF file is all about, close the file, then rename the PDF file. If the PDF article has a title something like “Power Quality – The Common Problems and Solutions”, you will need to remember this title exactly the way it is so that you can rename the PDF file to “Power Quality – The Common Problems and Solutions.pdf”. I find this is a very tedious thing to do.

Now some software has a built-in thumbnail viewer that allows you to have a small screenshot of each PDF file. For instance, the ScanSnap Organizer software has this capability and you can rename the PDF file from within the software. The problem I find is that the thumbnails generated by ScanSnap Organizer are just too small to be useful and the software is EXTREMELY slow when it comes to renaming PDF files. There is a big lag after each file is renamed. Granted, my PC is not the latest dual core PC running with a hefty amount of ram but there is no reason why renaming a PDF should be this slow. There are other software I tried that can rename a PDF file from within the application but the thumbnail/preview is either too small, or the software is just as slow and cumbersome as ScanSnap Organizer.

The ideal solution is to have a software that is capable of displaying each PDF file with a big enough thumbnail/preview panel and at the same time allows one to rename the PDF easily. And I believe I found the software that works just the way I wanted – and this is the A-PDF Preview and Rename Utillity. It is shareware and cost $39. You can download a trial version here. It is not cheap but I must say it is a really good software. If you manage to find a freeware that can do what I asked, please do contact me. I will be very pleased to know.

Now the interface of A-PDF Preview and Rename is pretty straightforward. I have done a screenshot as follows:

As you can see, all the files waiting to be renamed are populated inside a list box to the left and the thumbnails give an indication what kind of article this is and a preview panel to the right allows one to zoom in and out of the PDF. So it is really easy to zoom into the PDF and once the actual title is on the screen, you can then proceed to rename the PDF based on what you see on screen. Easy!

So this software is a definite must have in my book and this is highly recommended.

Posted on April 1, 2012, in Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500, Going Paperless. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this link. I downloaded the application and worked my way through all my pdf files htat needed renaming – it is a great program really takes the drudge out of renaming.
    When i loaded it today to work on some new files it did not work anymore. Now Every time i open a new file I get and “unspecified error” and I cannot see the contents of the pdf file. Nothing has changed on my my system (Windows 7 64 bit).
    This is frustrating – can anyone help?

  2. Hi, perhaps a quick email to the original developer may help. I don’t have any issues with the software thus far.

  3. Thanks for the reply – I found the solution over the weekend. For some reason Chrome had disabled the “view pdf file in the browser” extension – when I re-enable this the program worked fin again.
    This is great program helps me work through a lot of files in a very short time

  4. I m glad this work out for you 🙂

  5. Thank you very much. I was searching exactly for this type of solution as I have a Scansnap scanner and relate completely with your situation. Thank you for taking the time to write the blog to address this very situation.

  6. I m glad this is helpful to you 🙂

  7. Sumatra PDF (free application from allows to rename .pdf file simply by pressing F2. However, I didn’t find an option to delete .pdf files with Sumatra PDF.

    On the other hand, View and Rename PDF (free application from allows both to rename and delete multiple .pdf files in a very comfortable way.

  8. Thanks Hugh for that info.

  9. for unknown reason it corrupt some pdf files

  10. Hugh Tash said:
    “On the other hand, View and Rename PDF (free application from allows both to rename and delete multiple .pdf files in a very comfortable way.”

    I will Third “View and Rename PDF” as a great program! I was a little skeptical, but after haveing downloaded it and used it, I have to say I was incredibly pleased! Very simple and straightforward interface, Processes name changes quickly, and effectively. I am so glad I stumbled on this page. I had been using bridge, but since this is free I much prefer it!

  11. What if i want to rename the folder instead of the pdf. Do we have a way to do that? Where i can view the content and it will save in folder that been renamed instead of the pdf bieng renamed.

  12. Peter Boetzkes

    Hi! I am looking for this kind of software, and via Google I landed on your site. I like the software capabilities you described for renaming. But because the article is already 5 years old, I was wondering if you have found newer alternatives to the A-pdf software?

  13. Hi yes. I now use filecenter for pdf renaming. Not a free software but occasionally they have a 50% sale

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