How to Locate and Delete Duplicate Files on macOS

Remove Duplicate Files Cover

If you like to make multiple backups of various files, you may tend to be confused sometimes by different versions of a file at different locations on your Mac. If you don’t clean these up regularly, you may find a bunch of duplicate files on your system that can take up a lot of your Mac’s disk space.

The issue is that it’s not that easy to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac. In this guide we’ll first show you how to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac using Finder. However, if you find the method a bit tiresome, you can choose to download a dedicated free or paid software to automatically do this job for you. We’ve also detailed one such app below.

Using Finder to Locate and Delete Duplicate Files

The great thing about duplicate files is that they usually have either a common name, a common date of creation and/or a common file type. We’ll use this exact function to locate duplicate files on the Mac. This method involves creating a smart folder in Finder and sorting files according to name, date and/or type. The exact method is detailed below:

1. Open Finder on your Mac. Open a location of your choice to create the temporary smart folder (example: Desktop, Documents, etc.).

2. From the top-left menu, select “File -> New Smart Folder.”

Remove Duplicate Files Smart Folder

3. Click on the “+” sign in the top-right corner.

Remove Duplicate Files Plus Sign

4. From the drop-down menu, select a particular category to use to sort you files. For example, if you know the file name of the duplicate files, you can enter in the name, and Finder will instantly show you all files with the exact same name.

Remove Duplicate Files File Type

In the screenshot below I’ve entered the file name “General Navigation,” and all files with the exact same name have appeared. I can now choose to delete any previous versions or duplicates I would like.

Remove Duplicate Files Specify Name

5. Similarly, you can choose to sort files by file type. For example, if I select “Kind” from the category and further specify “Music Files,” Finder will show me a list of all audio files present on my Mac. By clicking on the Name category, all files will be sorted by alphabetical order. This should help you easily spot duplicates and delete them.

Remove Duplicate Files Mac Music Files

As you may have guessed from the guide above, manually locating and deleting files can be a long and tiresome process. A simpler method is to use a dedicated app to locate duplicates and delete them. We’ve listed a few apps for you below that do this exact function.

Using a Dedicated App to Delete Duplicate Files

There are many apps available on the App Store to automatically locate and delete duplicate files on your Mac. We’ll be covering one such app, known as Duplicate Cleaner.

Once you open the app, you’ll be presented with an option to select a folder to scan for duplicates. Once the app completes its scan, it’ll show a list of all the duplicate files retrieved.

Remove Duplicate Files Duplicate Cleaner

The list will include the name of the duplicate file, number of duplicates and their locations on your Mac. You can view them and choose to delete a duplicate(s) accordingly. It’s quite simple and works well.

Remove Duplicate Files Select File List

Some other apps that also provide the same function are Duplicate File Finder Remover (free), Duplicate Detective Cleaner ($4.99), and Duplicate Cleaner ($9.99). The apps mainly differ in some specific features (such as custom scanning, easy drag-and-drop features, etc.). If the free version we mentioned above works for you, you shouldn’t feel the need to purchase any paid app for this purpose.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the Finder tutorial, it’s really helpful for checking duplicates that share the same file name. But I don’t much like your choice of recommended apps. You completely forgot to mention advanced Mac apps like Easy Duplicate Finder, Duplicate Photo Cleaner, and Gemini.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial which I found very easy to follows and understand the procedure – pics showing tab, etc, very helpful.
    I find that some of the guides are phrased for people who are very knowledgeable in this field which I am not. Thanks again for being helpful to an old duffer
    Sef G

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