How to Find and Remove Duplicate Files on Mac

How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac

Your files on your Mac are more valuable than the computer itself!

Agree or not, I always tell my friends and colleagues: “If you love your Mac, make sure to regularly back up the data and check hard drive health.”

After all, your Mac drive’s performance can make or break your overall computing experience.

Today we’ll be talking about another common issue: finding and removing duplicate files on Mac.

If you’re like me who has an older Mac, chances are your Mac’s internal drive is almost filled up. A full hard drive will not only slow down Mac startup but affect your work productivity due to more frequent Mac freezing times.

One of the culprits — duplicate files (also called duplicates) can take a surprising amount of disk space on your Mac.

In particular, if you are used to syncing and backing up all your iPhone and iPad data on your Mac, it’s inevitable that duplicate files will stack up.

Below, we are going to share with you a number of different ways how to find those duplicate files and by removing them you could free up a decent amount of disk space.

Why Remove Duplicate Files on Mac?

  • Free up additional space so you can save more precious photos.
  • Find your wanted items more quickly.
  • Improve the overall performance of your machine.
  • Make more Time Machine backups and be less worried about data loss.
  • Other potential benefits.

How to Find and Remove Duplicates on Mac

You could start navigating your Mac folders and check each document manually to locate those duplicates. We think that’s inefficient because you’ll probably need a lot of time and effort and some exact duplicates can be overlooked.

Therefore, we recommend leveraging automation to speed up the process. Below are some of the best Mac duplicate finder apps and tricks that work.

Method 1: Detect Duplicates and Similar Files with Gemini

Tagged with “Your photos matter, their copies don’t”, Gemini 2 is our favorite tool 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.

Method 2: Locate Duplicates in Finder

This is another fairly easy way to search for duplicate items. Make sure to 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.

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

Method 3: MacBooster Duplicates Finder

MacBooster is more like an all-in-one Mac system suite that helps keep your Mac clean, fast, and secure. One super useful tool in the suite is — Duplicates Finder, which is 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. You can read our detailed MacBooster review for more.

Method 4: Clean Duplicate Items in iTunes Library

Update: this method is not available if your Mac is running macOS Catalina since iTunes has been removed.

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 the iTunes app. Click on the “View” tab, you’ll see this option called “Show Duplicate Items”. Once found, you can easily delete them.

Method 5: Use Cisdem Duplicate Finder

Cisdem Duplicate Finder for Mac 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 the latest macOS Catalina. See our detailed review for more.

Final Words

Duplicate files on Mac can be a bit annoying, but it’s often inevitable. Taking our smartphones or digital cameras, for example, we are used to making several shots in a row in order to get the best one. But we often forget to clean up the duplicated or not-so-great photos.

At the end of the day, our iPhones and Mac hard drives can be easily filled up with 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.

One thing to remember though, when you are about to remove those found duplicates — think twice and make sure you don’t delete the wrong ones as the action may be irreversible.

Also, do not try to remove any duplicate files in macOS system folders, most of 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. Let us know which methods or apps work best for you.

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  • Semaj D'lareg

    All good stuff, thank you.
    Even more problematical than multiple photographs, are multiple ‘takes’ in music recording studios, whereby jazz musicians (in particular) frequently record the same item many times over before everyone seems satisfied – both musicians and studio technicians. Charlie Parker’s original recordings, when they eventually appeared on LP, were a a classic case-in-point of course, whereby most of us found out when LPs started to replace our 78s.

    I have modified my own iTunes setup to tackle this issue so that, by and large, it now deals with the problem . . . albeit not always entirely fool-proof ! A good discography can usually help to settle the really difficult items.

  • Liz

    Easy Duplicate Finder is another app worth including in your post. It’s really versatile and works great on my Mac.

  • Howard Huxter

    Gemini takes light years to work on my iMac and then doesn’t do the job.

    EDF is not a very professional application