How to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac

How to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac

No one likes to find themselves running out of hard drive space on their Mac. Weeding through files and deciding what to delete and what to keep is a painful process and one that none of us likes. One of the biggest causes of wasted space are duplicate files. Luckily there are a few easy ways to locate them and clear them out, in turn saving yourself some valuable disk space. Here's how!

How to save disk space on your Mac by finding and deleting duplicate files

There are many apps available in the Mac App Store that can help you find and take care of duplicate files. Which one you use is ultimately up to you but I've found Duplicate Detective to be one of the most user friendly and effective. So that's the one I'll use in the steps below. You are, of course, free to choose a different one if it suits you better. The steps may just vary.

  1. Launch Duplicate Detective on your Mac.
  2. To scan your entire drive, drag Macintosh HD in the box. If you don't have a shortcut on your desktop, navigate to it in Finder and then drag it.
  3. Now click on Start Scan.
  4. Give Duplicate Detective a bit of time to scan your drive. Keep in mind that doing a complete scan takes longer so if you are only worried about certain files and directories, you're welcome to just scan those.
  5. Once Duplicate Detective is done you'll be able to clear out any files that are showing up more than once on your hard drive. In the side window you're shown what locations the files are in. Just check one of them and when you're done, click the Next button.
  6. Duplicate Detective will ask you to confirm your selection. Confirm it by clicking on Clean.
  7. That's it. Duplicate Detective will then show you how much hard drive space you saved by clearing the selected files off.

That's all there is to it. In my experience photos are typically the largest culprits since it's so easy to import them from Photo Stream and from a camera or another source, creating multiple copies. The same can happen with video imported from iPhones and iPads.

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you. How much hard drive space were you able to recapture?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac


Does it offer a drill down of the file? For example:

2 Dave Matthews Band live albums
Two song titles are named "TwoStep.mp3"
There is a duplicate "TwoStep.mp3" file...

Does it allow you to differentiate between realllll duplicates and not so real duplicates?

If so, then please figure out how you can do this is iTunes, because many of us would love to get rid of our duplicates.

I have 8k duplicates, but only 4500 are real dups.

I'd like to know this also, just how deep does the duplicate search go, with albums by Stan Getz and Scott Hamilton sometimes they cover the same standard ballad.

Also will it know to differentiate between my Iron Maiden studio songs versus live recordings of the same name.

Sent from my iPhone using iMore Forums Mobile App!

An MD5 check on the files will let you know they are different. Run To The Hills.mp3 will have a difference MD5 signature than Run To The Hills (Live At Donnington).mp3

Does DD only check file names or does it evaluate the content itself. I have tons of photo duplicated but they all have different names, making sorting very difficult.

I think this is a good app and gets the job done. But I recently purchased this app called Tunes cleaner --> from a stacksocial bundle, and boy this app is really good, give you specifics as to where it found, it the names, the kbps and other oprions, like cleaning directly from iTunes or other folders that you specify. I'm happy I got it to help me get rid of all those duplicates. But well, duplicate detective is less expensive.

Thanks for the DD application. I have been long working on OS X but did not learn about this app. I have used all duplicate finder apps such as Stellar Smart Finder, CCleaner, Mac App Cleaner but this really sounds something to try out.

I will let you know my feedback on the same.

That's a great app for quick duplicates clean up. For more profound it's better to use Gemini or Duplicates Expert