Find and delete photo duplicates on your Apple Mac

It is all too easy to get into a situation where you have duplicate photos on the disk drive. You might even have several gigabytes worth clogging up the system. Here is a utility that will find them and delete them.

The more photos you have transferred to the Mac’s disk and the more you have edited them, the more duplicates there will be on the system. Some people who have very large photo collections have found that the space occupied by duplicate images runs into several gigabytes.

Finding and deleting them might free up a lot of disk space. Mac users with solid state disks (SSDs) cannot afford to waste space with duplicate files of images they already have somewhere on the system. It is wasteful and an inefficient use of the storage space.

Search the Mac App Store for duplicate finders and there are several that can track down copies of photographs and let you remove them. A lot of them are by the same developer and Systweak Software has Duplicate Cleaner for iPhoto, Photos Duplicate Cleaner, Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro and Duplicate Photos Fixer.

Related: Resizing vs resampling images in Preview

It is very confusing and it is hard to know which one to go for. All are free except for the Pro app and that is currently on a massive discount and costs just UK £0.79 / US $0.99. I don't know how long it will stay at that price, so grab it while you can!

I tried Duplicate Cleaner for iPhoto first and then bought Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro because it is so cheap. They both work with the new Photos app as well as iPhoto, but the Pro version has an extra feature that makes it worth spending the extra.

The difference is immediately noticeable on startup and the free app only matches exact copies of a photo. It must be identical.

The Pro app has fuzzy matching rules that find photos that are similar, but not exactly the same. You can set the matching level, which is how similar the images must be, using a slider. There is also a time interval and photos can have different times on them, but are still regarded as the same, or they may have similar, but not identical GPS coordinates.

Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro
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You can add your iPhoto or Photos library by clicking a button, but it is also possible to manually add photos and folders by dragging them from Finder.

While using this fuzzy matching I found several photos that were identical, but one was upside down. I have no idea how that happened and it might have been someone playing with photos apps on the iPad, which then got synced to the Mac. Anyway, Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro found them and it shows the sort of fuzzy matching that is possible.

Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro
Click to zoom in...

A cheaper app might not have spotted these because they are not identical and they have different sizes and dates.

After scanning the Mac you might end up with hundreds of duplicate photos. There are tick boxes so you can select the one to delete, but there is a shortcut and there is an Auto Mark button. This uses rules that you can edit to select the appropriate image to delete. For example, if two photos are the same, but one is smaller then the smaller one is selected. Also the one with the oldest date, which is most likely to be the original, is auto selected.

Rules for selecting duplicate photos

The rules are good, but it is still worth going through them, even if you only skim and don’t spend too long. When you are happy, the Trash Marked button deletes them all.

Scanning large photo libraries, we are talking tens of thousands of images, can take some time, so be patient.

Overall, this is a very useful app for cleaning up photo collections.

Title: Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro 
Price: UK £0.79 / US $0.99
Developer: Systweak Software
Size: 7 MB
Version: 1.8.1
OS X: 10.7 or later
Verdict: An essential tool for keen photographers



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