How to find and remove duplicate files on Mac
How to find and remove duplicate files on Mac

How To Find And Remove Duplicate Files on Mac?

Having duplicate files on Mac is not an unknown scenario. For many reasons, your Mac might accumulate duplicate files over time. If the storage space runs low due to this, the device will warn you about it. You can then manually delete and free up space on your Mac. If you are finding it hard, fortunately, there are ways to find and delete duplicate files on Mac.

Whether intentionally or not, large media files often stay in duplicate files if you edit or modify them. Data imports are another cause of duplicate files. And these files do take up a lot of storage space. That, as a result, slows down the hard drive and overall performance of the Mac. 

If you are facing such a problem, do not worry. You are not alone in this. While such files often go unnoticed, you can find them following the few techniques we will discuss here. 

Now, many of your activities can generate duplicate files on your Mac.

  • Accidentally copying files. 
  • Downloading the same data or file multiple times from other sources or email.
  • Keeping various backup files. 
  • Saving the same file or data numerous times with multiple names.
  • Accidentally transferring the same images or files from one device to your Mac multiple times. 

But if you know how to find and remove these duplicate files from your Mac, they are not a big deal. Find the best way to do so from the information below. 

Best solutions to find and remove duplicate files on Mac

First, you should know where to find all the duplicate files on your Mac before getting to its removal methods. 

To find every possible duplicate file or folder on your Mac, enter “Finder” on the search box. That will locate all the duplicate files matching your request. You can now select the items from the Finder you want to delete. Move the selected files to the Trash to get additional free storage space. 

This is a manual process to remove duplicate files. Some may find it an intensive process. Thankfully, the solutions are not limited. 

Manual Search

Many people find manual methods quite cumbersome. But, most often, manual processes are more effective and fruitful than most. Rather than going through several depths of files and folders, you can easily find the required files directly following this manual process. When you search for any file or folder, even the duplicates will show up on the list. 

So, here is how you can proceed with the manual resolution to find and remove duplicate files on your Mac. 

  • Open Finder on your Mac.
  • Type in the “*” symbol (asterisk) in the search field. 
  • That will display all the return files available on your drive. You can sort the list as per your preference. 
  • Find the duplicates and delete them as you want. 

This is an easy solution that is available on default on Mac and any other devices. No matter where the files are located or stored, they will appear when searched through this method. 

By using Smart Folders 

macOS has a Smart Folders feature that automatically finds and organizes every file. Based on your search criteria, this feature ensures to find the most relevant and specific information. No matter where you save your files, Smart Folders will index them as per the actual files and duplicate files, if any. 

Open your Mac and launch the “Finder” window. Look for the “File” section on the menu and select the “New Smart Folder” option. You will see a “+” sign on the right side of the window. That will allow you to search for your files via different parameters like file type, name, date, etc. 

Select the parameter under the “Kind” tab to find the duplicate files. You can use as many filters to get the most precise result. As the results are displayed on the screen, select them accordingly and delete those you do not need. 

Solution 3: By using Mac Terminal.

When the duplicate files become excess, you will find that your Mac is working relatively slowly. Mac Terminal can help you locate all the same files on the device. It is a textual-based process and sometimes shows files that are not duplicates. That will be the only demerit of this resolution. But otherwise, it is an effective method to remove duplicate files from your Mac. 

So, here goes the process. 

  • Find the “Utilities” menu on your Mac and open the “Mac Terminal.”
  • In most cases, the Downloads folders contain the most duplicates. So, let’s start by scanning that folder for copies. 
  • To go to the downloads folder, type – cd ~/Downloads. 
  • As you get into the Downloads folder, enter this command – find ./ -type f -exec md5 {} \; | awk -F ‘=’ ‘{print $2 “\t” $1}’ | sort | tee duplicates.txt
  • Once you hit the Enter button, a text file will be generated to check the duplicate files. You can now check these files individually to see if they are duplicates. Remove the ones that you want to delete as duplicates. 

By using iTunes.

What type of files do you think have the most duplicates on any device and for most people? They are not document files or office files. They consist primarily of music files, audiobooks, and video files. Luckily, iTunes has ways to delete those unwanted duplicate files. 

Begin by opening your iTunes to start. 

  • Go to the “Library” section and select the file type or content (songs, videos, audiobooks). 
  • On the next screen, click on the “File” tab. 
  • Choose the “Library” option followed by “Show Duplicate Items.” 
  • Once the list of duplicate items appears on the screen, select the ones you want to delete and hit the enter button. 

This method applies to only those duplicate files stored in the iTunes library. You can delete only one file at a time. 

By using the Photos App.

This is a manual process to find and delete duplicate files on Mac. You use Mac’s built-in Photos App in this method. While it can be time-consuming, you can effectively remove all the duplicate photos and videos. 

  • Open your Mac and launch the Photos app.
  • On the Photos App, click on the “Library” section. You will find all the duplicate copies of your photos and videos. If there are duplicates, they will appear next to each other. 
  • To select many files simultaneously, hold the “Command” button and drag the pointer across the files you want to delete. 
  • You can now hit the “Delete” button on the keyboard. 

By using the Apple Mail Downloads

Many files, documents, and attachments are sent via email, which is why emails create many duplicate files. Many in the inbox, cloud storage, downloads folder, etc. If your Apple devices are synced, you may even find multiple copies or duplicates on each of your devices. 

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The most efficient way to delete email duplicates from its downloads is to erase the entire folder. Here is a direct link to open the email downloads on your Mac: ~/Library/Containers/ Downloads/

The device will show you two library folders through this link. Every mail attachment, whether viewed or not, is stored here. Select the ones you want to delete and drag them to the Trash folder.

Another process to delete mail downloads are as below:

  • Open the Finder on your Mac and navigate the “Go” tab. 
  • Now, hold the “Option” key on the keyboard. That will display the “Library” folder on the screen. 
  • Click on the “Library” folder and find the “Mail” option. 
  • Under the Mail, check every mail attachment. Select the ones that you wish to remove from your Mac. 

By using the iPhoto (OS X Photos)

iPhoto is a great function to keep everything organized on Mac. Most Mac users use this instead of the normal Photos App. The process automatically sorts photos and others using different filters. 

Another great benefit of using this feature on your Mac is better organizing your files and preventing them from creating duplicates. 

The process is straightforward. 

  • Open the Photos app on your Mac. 
  • Click on the “Photos” tab and choose “Preferences” from the menu. 
  • On the next screen, find under the “General” tab. 
  • Tick the box for “Copy items to the Photos Library.” 

Enabling this option will mean importing all the new files manually. That will reduce the possibility of creating duplicate files. You can now close the window. 


Besides these solutions, you can also use many other third-party applications and platforms to find and remove duplicates on your Mac. 

One reason why deleting duplicate files is essential is to free up some storage space. That will also improve the performance of the Mac. Besides deleting the duplicate files, you can remove any other unwanted data, apps, or backup files that might burden the operating system and hard drive. 

We hope this resolution will be of help to you. If you have any better suggestions and complaints, leave comments below.