Duplicate files are almost certainly on the Apple Mac’s disk and are wasting precious storage, but how do you track them down and delete them? Use a free utility! Here are three great ones.
Some Apple Macs have very small solid state drives and they are soon filled with documents and media files. As little as 128GB of storage is in some older MacBook models and this is barely sufficient for the operating system and a few lightweight apps. It is hard to cope with such small storage and even new models only have 256GB.
To keep the Mac going you must be careful not to unnecessarily waste storage space and one of the utilities you need in your toolbox is a duplicate file finder.
For various reasons you can end up with duplicate files and even duplicate folders. For example, if you have files or folders that you share or sync with online storage, you might copy files to it and then forget to delete the original or the copy.
I switched from Google Drive to OneDrive and copied all the folders over, only I forgot to delete some in the Google Drive sync folder and now there are two copies of many files and folders. It is a common situation where duplicates can arise.
Duplicates happen and you need to find out how bad the situation is. Then clean up. Here are three free utilities that can help.
Duplicate File Finder Remover
Nektony Duplicate File Finder Remover is a free app in the Apple Mac App Store (Nektony website) that is very useful for tracking down duplicates on the Mac’s disk and for deleting them. There is a paid Pro version but many features are in the free app and it is excellent.
To begin you need to either drop a folder on the app window or click the Scan Home Folder button. Scanning the disk was quick and the results are soon shown.
When it has finished, it presents its findings in a very nice display. Pie and bar charts are available that show duplicates by type, such as pictures, documents, archives and so on.
There is a panel on the right showing the Biggest Similars – items that are almost identical, but not quite. There are several cleanup hints too.
Across the top of the window is a bar with buttons for each of the file types found and clicking one displays a list of the files in that category. The list on the left is used to select a file and the area on the right lists all the duplicates and their locations on the disk.
Select a file and a preview is displayed above, such as a thumbnail of an image. In the case of audio files there is an audio player that lets you listen to the file. PDF files, Word documents, Pages documents and other file types showed in the preview window.
You can easily switch from one duplicate to another if you are not sure which one to keep or don’t believe they are the same and want to reassure yourself by checking.
A number of options are available, such as to keep the current file and remove the rest, skip this file, Get Info, Show in Finder and so on.
Files can be selected manually for deletion or you can use the Auto Select option to let the app decide which one to keep.
This is an excellent duplicate file finder and it is easy to use, fast and free.
Duplicate File Finder pro options
There are even more features available in the aid Pro version. For example, it extends the scan to hidden folders as well as normal ones. Whole folders can be removed instead of just files.
Perhaps the best Pro feature is the option to merge similar folders into one. These are folders that have a number of duplicates in common, but a few differences as well. There are options to copy missing files, delete one of the folders after syncing them, and more.
The free version of the app lets you look at this and configure it, but you need a Pro license to actually carry it out. I am using the free version here, but the feature looks good.
Another Pro option is the ability to restore deleted duplicates. The free app deletes to the Trash, so you can always recover files manually if you find you need them after all, it is just a bit easier with the Pro Restore Removed Duplicate feature.
If you like this utility from Nektony, you will like MacCleaner Pro (affiliate link). Duplicate File Finder Pro is one of several apps bundled with MacCleaner Pro and it works out cheaper to buy the bundle.
Duplicate File Finder Remover is an excellent app and I recommended it for cleaning the disk of duplicate files. The bar and pie charts are perhaps unnecessary and are there just to make the app look good, but there are many useful features. Get the free version and try it. If you need more features you have the option to go Pro.
Undouble: Duplicate Finder
Undouble is a free app in the Mac App Store – search for it. It is simple and fairly basic, but it is still useful for finding and removing duplicate files on the Mac’s disk.
The app shows a window containing three buttons and one of those is the gear icon to access preferences. To find duplicate files, clicking Select Folder To Search enables you to begin a new search. Once you have completed a search, you can click Open Last Search result.
It is tempting to select your home folder to search for duplicate files, but this is not a good idea because it searches system folders like the Library, which should not be touched.
Select a folder like Documents, Pictures, Music, Movies and so on, and the app then scans it for duplicate files.
Duplicates are collected together and appear as items in the first results column, so Files: 3 means three identical files found. Select and it lists the files. Checkboxes enable duplicates to be selected and by default, all but one are selected. A View link to the right of each file opens a Finder window to show the file location.
Clicking Backup Selected Files creates a zip of all the duplicates and their location. You can then click Remove Selected Files to delete all selected duplicates.
There is no explanation of how the app finds duplicates and it clearly goes beyond finding files with the same name. It will show identical files even if they have different filenames. This is good.
It could be better and I would like to see path information for each duplicate. Opening a new Finder window to view each file is too tedious when there are a lot of duplicates.
A Select/Deselect All button would be useful and managing a lot of duplicates is slow and tedious. A Quick View option would also be useful for checking files and images.
Undouble is useful if you have a small number of duplicates and you need a simple and free utility to deal with them. I like the backup feature. The preferences have some useful options like ignoring files outside of file limits and limiting duplicates to specific file types. Duplicate File Finder is better though.
Ccleaner is available in Free and Pro versions. The freebie has some feature limitations, but finding and deleting duplicate files is fully working with no restrictions.
Run the app and several cleaning functions are presented and Find duplicates is one of them. Your home folder is the obvious place to scan for duplicates and all you need to do is tick the checkbox next to it. Other folders or external drives can be added to the scan list if necessary.
Scanning for duplicates is reasonable quick and a list of files is presented. Categories of files are listed in the sidebar, like Documents, Pictures, Songs, Videos and others.
Select a category and duplicates are listed. A file is listed and all the duplicates are shown below. Checkboxes next to them enable you to select duplicate files for deletion.
There are several features that help you decide which files to keep or delete. For example, when the mouse hovers over a file, a thumbnail image preview is shown on the right. It also shows the date created and last modified.
You can also click any part of the file path, such as the enclosing folder or the file itself, to open Finder. You can open each folder containing duplicates if you need to.
Clicking the thumbnail image opens the file, so you could view PDFs, photos and documents to visually compare them if you want to confirm they are identical before deleting on.
A scan for duplicates can result in a long list, so there are a couple of selection shortcuts. The oldest duplicate or the newest duplicate can be kept and the others deleted. I prefer to manually check each one, but the options are there if you want them.
In Ccleaner settings there is an option to include or ignore hidden files. You can also set a minimum file size and smaller files will be ignored. This cuts down the duplicates list and it enables you to focus on the biggest space wasters.
This is a great utility for finding and removing duplicate files on the Mac.