5 Ways to Find and Remove Duplicate Files on Mac to Free up Space

Last updated: Jun. 24, 2017

How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac

Your files on a computer are more important than the machine itself, true?

That's why I always tell my friends and co-workers this: "If you love your Mac, make sure to always back up the data and check hard drive health."

Surely, the Macintosh hard drive's performance can make or break your overall computing experience.

Today I'll be talking about this issue -- finding and removing duplicates on Mac.

If you're like me who has an older Mac, chances are your Mac's internal drive are be filled up. And you know what? An almost full hard drive will not only slow down your Mac but also discourage you from saving new files.

One of the main culprits — duplicate files (also called duplicates) can take a surprising amount of space on your Macintosh HD or SSD.

In particular, if you are used to syncing all data on your external devices (such as iPhone, iPad, camera, etc.) with iTunes or Photos app, many of the items are actually duplicates.

Below, I'm going to share with you a number of ways to detect and remove duplicates on OS X (now we call it macOS), including several awesome Mac duplicates finder tools.

Why Remove Duplicate Files? Here Are The Benefits

  • Free up additional space so you can save more precious items.
  • Eliminate the frustration of not being able to quickly search for specific files.
  • Improve overall Mac performance - more free space usually makes a Mac faster.
  • You can make more Time Machine backups, less worry about data loss.
  • And other potential benefits.

5 Best Ways (and Tools) to Find and Remove Duplicates on Mac

Of course, you could navigate your Mac folders and check each document manually to find out the duplicates. We think that's inefficient -- a lot of time and effort need to be invested, and many actual duplicates are overlooked.

We thus recommend using tools and techniques for this purpose. Below are some of the best duplicate finder apps (or tricks) that work on Mac machines.

MacPaw Gemini

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Tagged with "Your photos matter, their copies don't", MacPaw Gemini 2 is our favorite because it's incredibly fast and accurate in detecting all kinds of identical and similar files.

The app interface is so sleek that you'll love navigating it for sure. A quick scan will reveal the amount of duplicated or similar items existing on your Mac, and it's up to you to clean them selectively in a few clicks.

Clean Duplicate Items in iTunes Library

Many of you may not know that iTunes actually has the feature to show duplicate items. The feature can save you tons of time cleaning up multiple copies of songs and albums that reside in your iTunes library.

To do so, open up iTunes app. Click on the "View" tab, you'll see this option called "Show Duplicate Items". Once found, you can easily delete them.

MacBooster Duplicates Finder

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IObit MacBooster is more like a Mac system suite that helps keep your Mac clean, fast and secure. One of super useful utilities in the suite is — Duplicates Finder. Similar to MacPaw Gemini, this program is also insanely powerful and simple to use.

Once you install the app on your Mac, select the "Duplicates Finder" feature from the left panel, click Scan to continue and you'll see a list of duplicates found and displayed there. See MacBooster review for more.

Use Mac Finder to Locate Duplicates

This is another fairly easy way to search for duplicate items. Note: make sure you always double check file name, size, and kind before you delete them. If you aren't sure, open them to look up the content and confirm.

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Type the wildcard symbol "*" in the search field located in the upper right corner.
  3. Now ensure you have the Size and Kind columns displayed, otherwise go to View > Show View Options to add them.
  4. Sort the results by Size, and you'll likely to find some large duplicated items.

Cisdem DuplicateFinder

Get Cisdem DuplicateFinder for Mac

Cisdem DuplicateFinder 3 is another nice yet powerful app that makes it easy for you to detect and delete all sorts of duplicate documents, pictures, music, videos, and more from iTunes, iPhoto (or new Photos app) or any folders on your Mac. The app is compatible with all OS X versions including latest 10.12 Sierra. See our review in this post.

Conclusion and additional tips

Duplicate files are sometimes annoying, it's often inevitable to have them. Taking our smartphones or digital cameras for example, we are used to make several shots in a row in order not to miss the best moment. The thing is we don't have the habit to clean them up. At the end of the day, our Mac hard drive can be easily filled up by those identical or similar pictures. Thankfully, there are some time-efficient ways to find those duplicates either with Apple's built-in features or via third-party apps.

Remember, when you are about to remove the found duplicates — think twice and make sure you don't delete the wrong ones as the action may irreversible. Also, do not try to remove any duplicate files in macOS system folders, most o the time you can't do so because they are read-only. But in case you may have modified certain permission settings.

Anyway, we hope you find this article useful. Feel free to let us know which methods or apps work best for you.

Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.

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