How to find duplicate files on Mac

Asya Karapetyan
Content marketer, who specializes in Mac how-to guides
April 4, 2024
7 minutes to read

If you’ve been using your Mac for some time now, there is a high chance that you have accumulated duplicates even without knowing it. Duplicate data might occupy significant space on your Mac. This article will show you the two methods how to find and remove duplicates on your Mac. duplicates on Mac

Ways to remove duplicate files:

  1. Use third-party software.
  2. Use Smart Folder in Finder.
  3. Use Terminal.
  4. Remove duplicates in Photos Library.
  5. Find duplicate mail downloads.
  6. Find duplicates in iTunes.

The easiest way to find duplicate files on your Mac

If you need a fast solution to easily find and remove duplicates on your Mac, use a free Duplicate File Finder software Nektony. The tool automatically finds all types of duplicates in minutes and provides a wide set of options to merge your folders and organize your files. The application supports external drives and Photos and Music libraries on Mac.

Duplicate File Finder

Free Download

Find duplicates on Mac using a special software

An effective and time-saving solution to remove the duplicate content on Mac is to use a free application Duplicate File Finder. The application has a complex search algorithm that automatically identifies exact duplicate photos, videos, music, documents, and other common types of files. Also, the application finds similar folders, similar photos, and similar audio files, helping you to clear all unneeded copies.

Video Guide: How the app works

How to use the app:

  1. Download and launch the app.
  2. Choose folders you want to scan and click on Find Duplicates.
  3. Once the scan is completed, you’ll see the list of all your duplicate files.
  4. Select the duplicate content you want to delete.
  5. Click on Review to Remove and confirm the action.
Program to find duplicate files
You can use use the Auto Select button to automatically select duplicates. The application will leave only one copy in each set of duplicate copies.

And once again, the application is available for Free on the App Store.
Download the app and see how it is easy to declutter your Mac from duplicates.

Find duplicates using a Smart Folder in Finder

To manually find duplicate files on Mac, you can use the Smart Folder option in Finder. Before we start explaining how to search for duplicates files on Mac with Finder, note, this is usually time-consuming, and you will have to manually compare every file that seems to be a duplicate. Using Duplicate File Finder from Nektony can do this task for you easier and quicker. However, if you prefer to locate duplicates without using any third-party tool, follow the guide below.
How to use Smart Folder to find and delete duplicate files on Mac:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Go to Finder menu → click on File → select New Smart Folder.
  3. Click the Plus button in the top right corner and select Search parameters: Kind, Date, Name, File type, and other parameters. Smart Folder in Finder showing filters drop menus
  4. You can find more parameters for searching and sorting files by clicking on Other and adding new search filters with the Plus button. For example, if you want to search for duplicate photos, set up Kind – Image, Extension – .png, .jpg, .tiff, or other. Add as many filters as you need and see the results. Such a list will let you take a look at all possible duplicate files, focusing on the size, extension, pixel size, name, and other parameters.
  5. Sort the files by size.
  6. Smart Folder showing possible duplicate files
  7. Now open each file that has the same name or size and check their data whether they are duplicates.

Find duplicates on Mac using Terminal

One more way to find duplicate files is by using the Terminal command line. With a special command, you can scan specific directories for duplicate files. The system will compare file sizes and MD5 signatures, followed by a byte-by-byte comparison for verification. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Terminal app.
  2. Type the path to the folder which you want to check for duplicates. For example, if you want to find duplicates in the Documents/Folder, type the folloiwng:
    cd Documents/Folder

  3. Press Enter.
  4. Then type this command and press Enter:
    find ./ -type f -exec md5 {} \; | awk -F ‘=’ ‘{print $2 “\t” $1}’ | sort | tee duplicates.txt

  5. Your system will start checking all files in the current folder for duplicate files. It will generate the list of identical files.
  6. Then you’ll need to find those duplicate files and delete unneeded copies manually.
Terminal window showing the list of duplicate files

This method is not so easy and we recommend using it only if you understand how Terminal works.

How to find duplicate pictures in Photos Library

Please note, when you import photos from your Mac’s hard drive to the Photos app, you automatically create duplicates. In this case, the system does not move the photos, it creates copies in the Photos library. Here is how to find duplicates in the Photos app:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Click Duplicates in the sidebar. It may require some time to scan your library for duplicates.
  3. Once the scanning is complete, you’ll see the list of duplicate photos.
  4. Select and remove unneeded items.
  5. Note that by default, the system does not remove them to Trash, it moves them to the Recently Deleted folder in Photos. So, don’t forget to empty this folder for complete removal.
Photos app showing duplicates
Note The built-in option to detect duplicates in the Photos app is available in macOS Monterey and later versions. If you use earlier macOS versions, you won’t be able to use this method.

How to find duplicate Mail downloads

By default, when you open a file or document from Mail attachments, the system automatically saves it to the hidden Mail Downloads folder. This folder can be found in the system Library → Containers.

However, when you click to download and save this file in any folder on your Mac, as a result, you have two copies of the file on your hard drive. Well, you hadn’t saved the file twice, but the system had done this for you. If this happens often, your disk might be cluttered with duplicates in the Mail Downloads folder. Learn how to use Finder to spot duplicates (folders and files) and remove them.

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Press Shift+Command+G and you will see the Go to Folder search field.
  3. Copy and paste the directory below and press Enter.
    ~/Library/Containers/Mail.mail Go to the folder search field showing the Mail downloads directory
  4. In this folder, you can find all Mail attachments. Find the downloaded file and remove it.

How to find duplicate songs in iTunes (Music app)

No matter if you have an old version of macOS and use iTunes or the Music app, the steps for finding duplicate songs in both versions are the same.

  1. Launch the Music app or iTunes.
  2. In the menu bar, click on File → Library.
  3. Click on Show Duplicate Items. You will see the list of duplicate music.
Note, in this case, the Music app might show you the same songs but from different albums. If you want to find exact duplicates in your Music Library, press and hold the Alt key on your keyboard, and you will see the option Show Exact Duplicate Items.
Music app menu showing option to See Exact duplicate items

Please, don’t automatically select and delete all files which iTunes shows as exact duplicates. If you do this, you will remove all copies. iTunes is showing all files and you need to manually skim them and decide which one you want to remove.

Read more: How to delete duplicate songs in iTunes.

Another quick way to find exact duplicate music files and similar audio files is to use a duplicate finder.


Actually, using a duplicate finder is the best way to clean up Mac duplicate files. The application supports any storage, including external cloud storage and external hard drives. It’s easy to use, it’s fast and safe. The best thing about the app is that it’s free to use. The in-App purchase is required only if you need additional Pro options for organizing your duplicate files.


Frequently asked questions

Why are there so many duplicate files on my Mac?
Does Mac have a duplicate finder?
What is the Duplicate command on a Mac?
What is the best free duplicate finder?
Scroll to Top