Commons:File renaming

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Commons file move icon

The file rename function allows renaming (or "moving") of files, which works basically the same way as "normal" page moves. The function is only available to stewards, administrators and file movers. Requests to become a filemover are listed at Commons:Requests for rights#Filemover.

Which files should be renamed?

Whether a filename is perceived to be suitable often depends on the familiarity of the individual with the subject, which is often the place depicted. It also occurs that items are known under different terms to different contributors or they believe entities are primarily well-known under the term they are used with to describe this entity, neglecting cultural differences, even within countries. Not of less importance is the purpose the filename is believed to have; contributors frequently categorizing files have different demands from those who create, process, manage and upload them. Uploaders often have schemas naming their files; moving files might break them. If possible, language and schema should be preserved, as well as the camera or catalogue number.

Commons:File naming describes how files should be named. In general, Commons aims to provide stable filenames as there might be external file clients and file moving involves significant human and computing resources. Thus renaming should be used with caution. Currently there are six widely undisputed uses for rename requests:

# Aim Examples (old name) Examples (new name)
1. At the original uploader’s request.[1]
2. To change from a meaningless or ambiguous name to a name that describes what the image particularly displays.[2] File:DSC 1342.jpg (no information at all) File:Pretoria Venningpark DSC 1342.jpg
File:20110428 OH K1023900 0014.JPG - Flickr - NZ Defence Force.jpg (only photographer or rights holder) File:Helicopter A109LUH(NZ) by NZ Defence Force.jpg
File:20120519 3349.CR2.png (only date) File:Sebkha-Chott 3349.png
File:Paris 319.jpg (only broad location) File:Paris 75018 Rue Norvins no 018 Le Consulat z.jpg
File:Smartphone.jpg (generic category) File:Samsung Galaxy Note series (Original, II, and 3).jpg
File:RAS.jpg (acronym or initials) File:Rodrigo Arias Sánchez.jpg
File:Flickr - law keven - Anybody know a Good Dentist^......Happy Furry Friday Everybody...-O))).jpg (no relation to file content) File:Lion-tailed Macaque, Colchester Zoo, England.jpg
File:Louvre 12.jpg (inappropriate for specific content) File:Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.jpg
3. To correct obvious errors in filenames, including misspelled proper nouns, incorrect dates, and misidentified objects or organisms.[3] File:Ayres Rock 3.png
File:Van Gogh portrait 1787.jpg
File:Unknown insect 02.jpg
File:Ayers Rock 3.png
File:Van Gogh portrait 1887.jpg
File:Hogna radiata 02.jpg
4. To harmonize the names of a set of images: so that only one part of all names differs.[4] File:Bhf-BS-Icon.svg
File:Icon HST bs 1.svg
File:Dst symbol.svg
File:BSicon BHF.svg
File:BSicon HST.svg
File:BSicon DST.svg
5. To change a filename that would be a violation of Commons’ policies and guidelines if it appeared elsewhere on the project as text. This includes gratuitous vulgarity, personal attacks/harassment, blatant advertising, and cases where revision deletion would be authorized.[5] File:Stupid fat idiot.jpg
File:Buy now NEW PAINT! 555-6200.png
File:<Name of the person>.jpg
File:2007 pink Honda Accord.png
6. Non-controversial maintenance and bug fixes, including fixing double extensions, invalid or incorrect extensions, character handling problems, and other similar technical issues.[6] File:Map of Asia.svg.png
File:Computer mouse.jpe
File:Map of Asia.png
File:Computer mouse.jpg
Additional information
Please consider creating file redirects instead, where applicable and possible. They are cheap, usually do not break anything and are easily edited or deleted, if required.
  1. Unless there is a compelling reason not to, uploader requests should be honored. This is a courtesy, not an absolute right, however. If a file mover feels that a proposed new name is disruptive or inappropriate, they can suggest a different name or decline the request.
  2. Including:
    1. Absolutely no information at all
      Composed entirely of random letters, numbers, and words like “Flickr”, “original”, and “crop”, which do not describe the subject of the image, but may indicate its upload history
    2. Only information is the photographer or rights holder
      The only piece of meaningful information is the name of the photographer or the holder of the copyright
    3. Only information is the date
      Only piece of meaningful information is the date that the photograph was taken on
    4. Only information is the location (broad)
      The only piece of meaningful information is a broad location, such as a city, province, or country. In this case, the location is so large that an average person would not be able to figure out where the image was taken or what the image depicted, without assistance from someone that knows the area.
    5. Generic category rather than specific item
      The only piece of meaningful information is a word, such as “smartphone” or “screenshot”, which broadly describes the subject of the file, but does not impart any information that would help someone identify the specific object depicted. This is not just restricted to inanimate objects, it also applies to broad titles or groupings, such as “queen” or “bird”.
    6. Acronyms and initials
      The only piece of meaningful information is an acronym or a person’s initials. This differs from “Absolutely no information at all” in that the acronym or initials are related to the subject of the file, even if it takes a second to figure out how.
    7. Names that are not meaningless, but do not describe the file
      Contains a coherent description or message that do not describe the subject of the file. Does not apply in cases where the name of the file is the title given to a work of art by the artist that created it, even if the name has nothing to do with what is depicted (for example, many works of Dadaism)
    8. Images where the information in the filename, while normally acceptable, is inappropriate for the specific content
    Not including: Specific locations, such as a park, an individual building, or an event.
  3. If an object or organism was incorrectly identified in the filename (such as calling a Sylvilagus floridanus by the name “File:Sylvilagus audubonii.jpg”), this criterion covers renaming the image. If the filename includes words like “unidentified” or “unknown” when describing an object or organism, and that object or organism has been identified, this criterion also covers the change. This criterion does not, however, cover moving a file from its common usage name to its scientific or technical name.
  4. Just because images share a category does not mean that they are part of a set. There are two scenarios that this criterion is designed for. First, certain complex templates (such as those that use BSicons or that display football kits) assume that the images used in them will follow a specific naming convention. Wikisource also uses a specific naming convention for the source files they transcribe. Second, files that form parts of a whole (such as scans from the same book or large images that are divided into smaller portions due to Commons’ upload size restriction) should follow the same naming convention so that they appear together, in order, in categories and lists.
  5. Note that Commons’ neutral point of view differs significantly from that of English Wikipedia. A file like “File:Taiwanese Tiaoyutai islands map.png” would be acceptable on Commons, even though it is not neutrally titled (see here). This does not mean that all non-neutrally worded titles are acceptable, however. An image of a person with the name “File:1BIGGest_nOSE_everS33n.JPG” would not enjoy the same protection.
  6. This is not a catch-all for anything that doesn't fit one of the above. This is for specific technical problems, generally which have a Phabricator task and have been the subject of community discussion.
View →the discussion that lead to the selection of these criteria.

Which files should not be renamed?

As a matter of principle it's best to leave all files with generally valid names at their locations, even if slightly better names may exist. So for example:

# Criteria to decline Examples (old name) Examples (new name)
1. Files should NOT be renamed only because the new name looks a bit better. File:TowerBridge'09.jpg File:Tower_Bridge_2009.jpg
2. Files should NOT be renamed only because the filename is not English and/or is not correctly capitalized. Remember, Commons is a multilingual project, so there's no reason to favor English over other languages. File:Rathaus_bremen.jpg File:Bremen_town_hall.jpg
3. If a filename in a local project conflicts with a filename at Commons, the file in the local project should be renamed. Renaming it at Commons would mean changing it in 700+ projects instead of just one.
4. Files with copyright issues should NOT be renamed until copyright issues are resolved. There is no reason to rename a file if it is going to be deleted on copyright grounds.

Additional naming conventions and exceptions from the above list might be discussed for specific projects.

How to rename a file?

Movefile gadget

Only administrators, file movers and Wikimedia stewards can rename files for now. If you belong to any of those groups, and therefore have the movefile right, just use the "Move & Replace" tab as you would normally do to a regular page.

If you can't rename files, you can request a move by putting the template

{{Rename|newname.ext|rationale number|reason=optional text reason}}

on the file description page. Alternatively, if you have a user account at Commons, you can select "More → Move" near the top right of the file page and then fill in the provided form; this functionality is provided by the default gadget RenameLink. Either way, an editor with filemoving rights will perform the move if it conforms to the guidelines described above.

Responding editors should follow the instructions on the template. In most cases, a file redirect should be left on the original page, except if it is a misleading or promotional name.


When you move (rename) a file by using the move tab the old title will automatically become a redirect page to the new title. Additionally urls to thumbnails of the old file name will also redirect (however, direct links to the full size version of the file will not redirect). Redirects to the moved file are automatically updated when using Move & Replace to avoid double redirects.[1] If you do not use Move & Replace, you'll have to update all redirects to the file manually.

Is there a log of file renames?

All file renamings are recorded in the Move log which is a log for all moves in all namespaces. There's no namespace filter for "files only" available yet.

Current file movers

See also


  1. MediaWiki:Gadget-AjaxQuickDelete.js