Duplicate files are almost certainly on the disk and are wasting space but how do you track them down and delete them? Use a free utility with the obvious name of Duplicate File Finder.
Some Apple MacBooks have very small solid state drives and they are soon filled. 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 on 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 two free utilities that can help.
Duplicate File Finder Remover
Duplicate File Finder is a free app in the Apple Mac App Store that is very useful for tracking down duplicates on the Mac’s disk and for deleting them. There is a paid Pro version but most of the features are free and the app is excellent.
To begin you need to either drop a folder on the app window or click the Scan Home Folder button. I have a slow hard disk drive and the scanning was surprisingly quick, so it must be very fast with an SSD in a modern Mac.
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 showing the Biggest Similars – folders that are almost identical. There are 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.
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 one of the best duplicate file finders I have used and it is easy to use, fast and free.
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 failry 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.