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?