How to Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide
How to Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Cluttered storage space and unorganized files can be a major roadblock to productivity and efficiency. Duplicate files, in particular, can accumulate quickly, taking up valuable space and making it difficult to find the files you need. If you’re struggling with an abundance of duplicate files on your Mac, this comprehensive guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to find and delete them, freeing up storage and streamlining your workflow.

Identifying Duplicate Files

Manual Inspection

One of the most basic methods to find duplicate files on your Mac is to manually inspect your files and folders. This is a time-consuming process, but it can be effective for small sets of files. To do this, navigate to the Finder window and sort your files by name, size, or date modified. Look for files with identical names and sizes. You can also use the Finder’s search function to narrow down your search by file type or specific keywords.

Using Terminal Commands

If you’re comfortable using Terminal commands, you can use the "find" command to quickly locate duplicate files on your Mac. Open Terminal and navigate to the directory where you want to search. Enter the following command:

find . -type f -name * -print0 | xargs -0 md5 | sort | uniq -w 32 | md5 | xargs -n 1 dirname

This command will generate a list of duplicate files based on their MD5 checksums. You can then navigate to the directories listed in the output to delete the duplicate files.

Removing Duplicate Files

Finder’s "Resolve Duplicates" Feature

If you’re running macOS Catalina or later, you can use the Finder’s built-in "Resolve Duplicates" feature to automatically find and delete duplicate files. To do this, open a Finder window and select the folder you want to clean up. Click on the "File" menu and select "Resolve Duplicates." The Finder will scan the folder for duplicate files and present you with a list of options for resolving them.

Third-Party Applications

There are several third-party applications available that can help you find and delete duplicate files on your Mac more efficiently. Some popular options include:

These applications offer advanced scanning algorithms, allowing you to quickly and easily remove duplicate files from your Mac.

Table: Comparison of Duplicate File Finding Methods

Method Pros Cons
Manual Inspection Simple and straightforward Time-consuming
Terminal Commands Powerful and customizable Requires technical knowledge
Finder’s "Resolve Duplicates" Feature Easy to use and integrated with Finder Not available in older macOS versions
Third-Party Applications Advanced features and fast scanning May require a paid subscription

Tips for Avoiding Duplicate Files

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to help you avoid accumulating duplicate files on your Mac in the future:

  • Use a cloud storage service: Cloud storage services like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox can help you keep your files organized by automatically syncing files across multiple devices. This reduces the risk of creating duplicates.
  • Be mindful of downloads: When downloading files from the internet, make sure to choose a specific location and avoid duplicating files by downloading them to multiple folders.
  • Delete temporary files regularly: Temporary files can accumulate over time and take up unnecessary space on your Mac. Regularly delete temporary files using the "Clean Up" tool in macOS.


Duplicate files can be a major annoyance, but with the right tools and techniques, you can easily find and delete them on your Mac, freeing up valuable storage space and streamlining your workflow. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove duplicate files and keep your Mac organized and clutter-free.

FAQ about How to Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Mac

1. How do I find duplicate files on my Mac?

Use a duplicate file finder, such as Gemini 2 or CleanMyMac X, which scans your hard drive for identical files.

2. What is the best duplicate file finder?

Gemini 2 and CleanMyMac X are both popular and highly rated duplicate file finders.

3. How do I delete duplicate files safely?

Select only the duplicate files you want to delete, as deleting the wrong files could cause problems. Use a file recovery utility to restore any accidentally deleted files.

4. How can I automatically delete duplicate files?

Some duplicate file finders, like Gemini 2, offer an auto-delete feature that permanently removes any duplicates it finds.

5. How do I identify duplicate files across multiple drives?

Use a duplicate file finder that supports multiple drives, or connect your drives to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) for a unified search.

6. Can I exclude certain files or folders from the search?

Yes, most duplicate file finders allow you to specify exclusions for specific files or folders.

7. How do I prevent duplicate files from being created?

Enable "Keep Unique Versions Only" in iCloud Drive. Use a tool like Hazel to automatically move or delete duplicates based on rules.

8. How do I find duplicate photos?

Use a photo organizer like Photos or Photos Duplicate Cleaner, which can identify and remove duplicate photos.

9. Can I find duplicate files based on specific criteria?

Yes, advanced duplicate file finders allow you to filter results based on criteria like file size, creation date, or content.

10. Is it safe to delete duplicate files?

Yes, as long as you ensure that they are indeed duplicates and are not needed. However, it’s recommended to create a backup before deleting any files.