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Rename Fields in QGIS

How to Rename Fields in QGIS: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Renaming fields and attributes in QGIS is a common task that can help make your data more understandable and easier to work with. This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through two methods of renaming fields in QGIS: using aliases for temporary changes and editing field names for permanent changes.

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  • Ensure you have QGIS installed on your computer.
  • Have a vector layer loaded in QGIS that you want to edit.

Method 1: Using Aliases for Temporary Field Name Changes

Step 1: Open Layer Properties

  • Right-click on the layer you want to modify in the Layers panel.
  • Select “Properties” from the context menu to open the Layer Properties dialog.

Step 2: Navigate to the Attributes Form

  • In the Layer Properties dialog, click on the “Attributes Form” tab on the left side.

Step 3: Change Field Aliases

  • Scroll through the list of fields and click on the field you wish to rename.
  • In the Alias box that appears, type the new name you want to use for this field. For example, change name_2 to State Name.
  • Repeat this process for any other fields you want to rename.

Step 4: Apply Changes

  • Click “OK” at the bottom of the Layer Properties dialog to apply your changes.
  • When you open the attribute table now, you’ll see the column names displayed as the aliases you’ve set. Remember, these changes are temporary and only affect how field names are displayed in QGIS, not the underlying data.

Method 2: Permanently Renaming Field Names

Step 1: Open Layer Properties

  • Right-click on the layer in the Layers panel and select “Properties.”

Step 2: Go to the Fields Tab

  • In the Layer Properties dialog, select the “Fields” tab on the left side.

Step 3: Enable Editing

  • Click on the “Toggle Editing Mode” button (a pencil icon) to allow changes to the field names.

Step 4: Rename Fields

  • Find the field you want to rename and double-click on its name in the list. This action allows you to edit the field name.
  • Type the new field name and press Enter. For example, rename name_2 to State Name.
  • Repeat for any other fields you wish to rename.

Step 5: Save Changes

  • After renaming the fields, click the “Toggle Editing Mode” button again to save your changes. QGIS will ask if you want to save the changes made to the layer.
  • Click “Save” to confirm and permanently apply the new field names.

Step 6: Verify Changes

  • Open the attribute table to verify that the field names have been updated as expected.


By following these steps, you can easily rename fields in QGIS either temporarily using aliases or permanently by editing the field names directly. This flexibility allows you to tailor how your data is presented and organized, making it more accessible and easier to understand for both you and others who may use your data.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about this renaming fields and attributes in QGIS

What is the difference between a field name and an alias in QGIS?

  • A field name is the actual name of the column in the data source, while an alias is a display name in QGIS that can be used to make the field name more readable or understandable without altering the original data.

Can I permanently change a field name in QGIS without affecting the source data?

  • No! Permanently changing a field name in QGIS does alter the source data. If you need to change a field name without affecting the source, consider using an alias instead.

How can I rename multiple fields at once in QGIS?

  • QGIS does not support renaming multiple fields simultaneously through the GUI. Each field must be renamed individually. However, batch processing or scripting (e.g., using Python) can accomplish this for more advanced users.

Will renaming fields in QGIS affect my data analysis or map outputs?

  • Renaming fields for display purposes using aliases will not affect data analysis or map outputs. However, permanently changing field names alters the dataset and could impact analyses or outputs if field names are hardcoded in expressions, queries, or scripts.

Is it possible to revert to the original field names after changing them?

  • If you’ve used aliases, simply removing the aliases will revert to displaying the original field names. If you’ve permanently changed field names, you would need to manually rename them back to their original names, assuming you remember or have documented those names.

Can I change field names in QGIS for all types of data sources?

  • The ability to permanently change field names may depend on the data source’s format and permissions. Some formats and data sources might have restrictions or may be read-only, limiting your ability to alter field names.

What happens to the attribute data when I rename a field in QGIS?

  • Renaming a field does not affect the data stored within that field; it only changes the field’s name. All attribute data remains intact, whether you’re using an alias or permanently renaming the field.

How do I rename fields in a shapefile using QGIS?

  • The process for renaming fields in a shapefile is the same as described for other vector layers in QGIS. However, due to the nature of shapefiles, you might prefer to create a new layer with the desired field names to preserve the integrity of the original data.

Can renaming fields in QGIS help with data management and organization?

  1. Yes, renaming fields can significantly improve data management and organization, making datasets easier to understand and work with, especially for users who did not originally create the data.

About the Author
I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.