How to find and delete duplicate files on your Mac’s disk

Scan the Apple Mac's disk for duplicate files and delete them to recover lost space

What is wasting the most space on your Mac’s disk? It could it be duplicate files. Finding and deleting file duplicates is one way to recover disk space and there’s an app for that!

Some Macs have quite small amounts of storage and there are still MacBooks on sale with just 128 GB disks. That is barely enough to run macOS plus a few lightweight apps and sooner or later you will be struggling for disk space.

Even models with 256 GB disks can struggle for space if you store a lot of videos and other space hogging files. It doesn’t take long to fill the storage and then what do you do?

You may be surprised to discover that some space is being used by duplicate files - the exact same file stored in different folders on the disk. That is a pointless waste of space and tracking them down enables you to delete the duplicates and leave just one copy.

You could free up hundreds of megabytes or even a few gigabytes of disk space by eliminating duplicates.

Some time ago I looked at a useful tool for finding photo duplicates, Find and delete photo duplicates on your Apple Mac. This time I will look at a general purpose utility called Duplicates Cleaner that finds duplicate files of all types.

It is free from the Mac App Store - search for ‘Duplicates Cleaner’.

Add a folder and scan for duplicates

When Duplicates Cleaner is run, it displays this startup window and it prompts you to either drag and drop folders onto the app or click the Select Folder button to choose a folder.

Any folder can be added and you can focus on a single one, such as the Documents folder, or you can select your home folder to check all files everywhere.

Duplicates Cleaner app on the Apple Mac

As soon as a folder has been selected, the app begins scanning for files and detecting duplicates.

Duplicate files found on the disk on the Apple Mac

View and delete duplicates

When scanning is complete, a summary shows the duplicates found in categories like Movies, Photos, Music, Documents and so on. Clicking View Duplicates enables you to see and delete the duplicates.

Duplicates Cleaner finds duplicate files on the Mac's disk

All the duplicates can be listed or you can select a category to list just those duplicates. Select a file and a preview is shown on the right. Images, videos, text files and other types can be previewed.

Duplicate Cleaner lists all files with duplicates

Below the preview is a list of the duplicates and when the mouse hovers over the path, you can see where they are located on the disk.

Check the Mac for duplicate files and then delete them

Checkboxes next to each file enable you to select the one to delete. There is a Multi-Select button that enables all duplicates to be selected, leaving just one copy of each file.

It does more than look for files with identical names and it found files I had accidentally downloaded twice and had the names Spotify Installer.zip and Spotify Installer (1).zip.

Exceptions and preferences

There is always a danger that a duplicate file finder could find duplicates that should not be deleted. It is nice to see that Duplicates Cleaner preferences has exclusion lists. These are organised into folders, files and extensions.

The app comes with a comprehensive set of exclusions, such as ignoring macOS system folders, the Trash, certain types of files and so on. You can add your own exclusions to these.

Summing up

Duplicates Cleaner is a great app and it can find duplicate files very quickly. I would advise checking files before deleting them, but it does appear to avoid any obvious problems by skipping system files.

If you are struggling for space on your Mac’s disk, it could be a life saver.

App: Duplicates Cleaner (Mac App Store)
Price: Free
By: PCVARK Software
Size: 1.4 MB
macOS: 10.7 or later
Verdict: It is easy to use and works well. Delete all your duplicates!

 

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