Get rid of duplicates on your Mac

Maria Chebyniak
8 min readMay 15, 2020

Finding duplicate files on your Mac is like finding a needle in a haystack: takes either superhuman patience or a metal detector duplicate finder app. In this post, we’ll go over both manual and app-powered ways to remove all the useless copies that waste your disk space.

So, here’s how you can find and delete duplicate files on Mac:

  • Hand-pick the copies using Finder
  • Find them with a Terminal command
  • Use a duplicate file finder app.

There’s a chance you don’t feel like digging through all your folders or messing with the command line in pursuit of duplicates. If that’s the case, skip the first two options and get yourself an app. Some of them let you scan your whole disk, review the duplicates, and delete them with a click of a button. Or, if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, there are still the manual options, and we’ll take a closer look at them now.

#1. How to find duplicate files using Finder.

There’s supposedly a trick that makes Finder reveal your duplicates in a list, but we tested it and it didn’t work. Bummer. This means you’ll have to check all your folders for duplicate files one-by-one, so let’s identify which ones to begin with. If you were a duplicate, where would you be? The truth is you can find duplicate files anywhere on your Mac, but most of them sit in these locations:

  1. Your Photos library
  2. Mail Downloads
  3. Your Downloads folder

These folders end up full of duplicate files for different reasons, and you’ll have to approach them differently. Let’s go over each one.

* Photos library

You move a bunch of new photos onto your Mac, import them into Photos, and start sorting them out. Been there, done that, know all about it. What you probably don’t know is that all of those pics now exist in two copies: one in the initial folder (say, Documents), and one in Home > Pictures > Photos Library. So, if you save photos onto your Mac first, and then…

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Maria Chebyniak

Crafting bespoke eLearning for IT / Healthcare. Innovating digital education for growth.