How to find and remove duplicate songs in iTunes

How to find duplicate songs in iTunes library

Apple is back with a handy how-to on finding duplicate songs (or videos) in your iTunes library. This is timely for me as some weird combination of MobileMe prefs sycn, Home Sharing, SuperDuper cloning, and iTunes 9.1.1 resulted in my main iTunes library disappearing, and the restore left me with multiple copies of multiple songs. Here's the recommended fix:

Begin by selecting Music in your iTunes Library, then choose Display Duplicates in the File Menu and sort the resulting list by Name. It will display only songs with names that exactly match the names of other songs.

Not all will be duplicates, of course. For example, some might be covers, and others could be different performances by the same artist. To help identify actual duplicates, put the Time column right next to the Name column in your display. (Just grab it by the title and drag it over there. And by the way, hiding the Artwork column will make it easier to spot what you're looking for.) Identical names with identical playing times are highly likely to be duplicates and you can then choose the one(s) you want to get rid of. When you're done, click Show All at the bottom of the window.

There's also a quick way to spot duplicates of the exact same song from the exact same album by changing the Display Duplicates command to Display Exact Duplicates. In iTunes for Windows you do this by holding down the Shift key when you click the File menu, and you can then move down the menu to select that command. On the Mac, hold down the Option key while you select the Display Duplicates command and it will change to Display Exact Duplicates. You'll still need to look carefully before deleting because some albums contain more than one version of the same song, but most of what you'll see will be true duplicates.

I nuked and started over, which was a slower and more aggravating process, so kudos to Apple for surfacing how to articles like this one. If you've dealt with duplicate songs -- or movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc. -- in your iTunes library and have ninja tips of your own to share, let us know in comments!

[Apple iTunes News]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to find and remove duplicate songs in iTunes

31 Comments

I wrote my own application for this task.
It works perfectly and it needs just one single click.

It's just a small application, written in C#, that uses the iTunes COM-API and removes duplicates. Every removed item moves to the recycle bin.

When I first started using an external drive for all of my media, I mistakenly synced without it hooked up. HUGE mess.
No ninja tips from me. I spent HOURS fixing it all. :|

Oh, yeah. Then, ALL you have to do is look through THOUSANDS of songs and choose the ones you want to delete. iTunes sucks big time.

Hey...
I tried using that TuneUp program...I don't know how it performs on a Mac, but in Windows 7, it's slow and inaccurate. It incessantly seeks compliations rather than the real albums (which I prefer). It can find duplicate songs but not always well...I've spent a good amount of time working towards normalizing my music collection but it's a slow ass process to do it by yourself. That said, it's probably the most accurate way, especially if you're like me and have a bunch of remix albums with mixes of songs and the same title.

Is it me, or did iTunes already have a way to resolve this? I remember un-hiding my duplicates and cleaning them out a long time ago...

How about getting rid of the songs with ! that aren't in your library. All this cleanup should be automated. iTunes sucks!

I got an app called (SingleMizer for $9.99) it works very good. It finds all duplicates on any folder folder the you ask.

problem is that this works for ITunes music library, but not within a playlist, or on your iphone music - the Duplicates command would be useful there too !!

Not only is it an 8 year old tip, it still doesn't actually find most of your duplicates. I find it faster and easier to just sort the entire library (only 1500 songs) by name and manually search for similarities.

I have tons of music on my iTunes. I use TidySongs and I LOVE it! Works great. Does all the work for me.
You can get it HERE

Why the "f" can't apple just make a delete option on their phone like the one for contacts and e-mails. (Oh ya then they wouldn't be able to sell you the clean up app)epic

I found an easy way to delete duplicates. I dont know if it will work for most people but it should. I sorted my songs by date added ( right click the title bar in iTunes and check date added), and found the time the second set of songs was imported. I highlighted all and deleted them, moving to recycle bin.
But that's only if you have a whole library imported at once like I did. It would probably be too hard if the duplicates were spread over time. Unless you could somehow create a way for them to be lumped together and then you can highlight and delete. Maybe change the names or add an album name...just sayin.

this is stupid.. it will take me 8 years to control click every other song.. I don't see why it is so hard for Apply to just have the show duplicates feature simply delete the duplicates instead of showing them.. default to keeping the most played version.. or hell, make that an option..

I have 40,000 songs and a large percentage of them have up to (9) duplicates each. It would take me hundreds of hours to click though these. I know, I have tried on more then one ocasion only to raise my blood preasure through the bloody roof!*%#! Why can't Apple simply make it an option to delete "exact duplicates"??? I know this bit of script is not that difficult to program. The programs such as Moleskin and such still have trouble with my sizeable library. Wasted $$. HELP!!!

You can hold Shift + A to highlight all songs. Then, if there are any songs you want to de-select from the highlighted group; hold CTRL and click the song you want to Deselect.
Enjoy