2 best ways to find and delete duplicate files on Mac

2 best ways to find and delete duplicate files on Mac

Apple MacBooks come with expensive but limited SSD space and a barebones option to optimize storage on macOS. So when you’re used to downloading the same files multiple times to be safe or just making copies, Mac storage tends to swell over time with duplicates. Removing these duplicates will create more space for new downloads and application installations. However, the task of finding and removing duplicate files on Mac is daunting.

Whether your Mac is running out of disk space or just want to keep things organized, there’s a good reason to get rid of duplicate files – documents, photos, apps, installations, packages, music, video, and more. By removing duplicates, you can better organize your existing files and make an appropriate backup to cloud storage or external drives.

Let’s see the two ways to find and remove duplicate files from your Mac.

Create smart folders to find and delete duplicate files on Mac

The Finder in macOS offers the Smart Folders function is the universal search criteria option to find all types of files. For example, you can search for audio, video, documents, and other files from a window – no need to type terms repeatedly.

Step 1: Open a Finder, click File and select New Smart Folder.

Open smart folders from Finder

2nd step: In the window that appears, click the + icon in the upper right corner and add the search field.

Click the Plus icon to add search criteria to smart folders

Note: By default, smart folders will choose “This Mac” as the search location. You can change it to Macintosh HD or a shared folder from the top.

Step 3: Choose the first drop-down option to choose between the type of search, which goes from the last opening date, the date of last modification, the creation date, the name, the content and others.

Click on the first drop-down menu of smart folders in the Finder window

If you select the Others option, you will get a new pop-up window that will ask you to choose one of the many attributes.

Step 4: In the second drop-down menu, choose the type of file you want to search for, ranging from application to text.

Select the second smart folder drop-down menu in the Finder window

You can continue to tap the + icon in the upper right corner to further customize the two drop-down lists based on how you customize your search.

For external drives, you need to click on the name of the external drive in the left pane under Locations. Then press Command + F to launch smart folders, then select your external drive name at the top. It’s tedious, but that’s how it works.

Suppose you can search for images opened for the last time in a month. And that should show you a list of images you accessed during that particular month. The more you refine your search queries.

Use Gemini 2 to find and remove duplicate files on Mac

If you don’t want to create time-consuming search criteria for smart folders, you can buy a duplicate third-party file finder. We recommend the Gemini 2 slick because it is smooth and fast with a nice user interface. It comes with a trial version which gives you an almost premium experience of a full version.

Even if you want to check the amount of unnecessary waste on your Mac, then Gemini is the best tool for testing waters. Simply download the trial version of Gemini 2 and install it. Then let it search for all duplicate files and folders on your system.

Gemini 2 1

First, the Gemini application creates a folder map for the chosen location. In addition, it allows the app to easily perform a quick search the second time for the same location.

For this guide, we decided to search for duplicate media files on a 4 TB external hard drive. The search therefore took some time compared to that of the Mac’s built-in SSD storage.

Gemini 2 2

When the search is complete, you will receive a notification about it. This window is so cool that you can click on different colors of the ring to display a breakdown of the content type of the duplicates found – Audio, Files, Applications, etc. Pretty cool, right?

Gemini 2 3

Ideally, you should be fine with the Smart Cleanup option to get rid of these duplicates. However, you can click the Review Results button to check if these matches include the files you really need. We recommend that instead of hitting Smart Cleanup the first time. Because duplicate search results will give you a nice three-column view of the files and folders that the app has found.

For the folders, click on the respective one in the central column to display the content in the right pane. The left column displays a classified list of exact duplicates.

Gemini 2 4

Now it’s up to you to decide where you want the application to deselect specific files or folders from its search. After all, it is an application and cannot read your brain to leave a particular type of file or folder alone.

One of my favorite features of this app is simply that it gives you the ability to review its actions. When you press this button, it sends all these duplicate files to the trash. This means that you still have one last chance to examine these files. You can also recover them in the trash before deleting them permanently.

There is an option to let the application directly delete these duplicate files from Preferences> Delete. However, if you need it later, check out our guide on recovering emptied files from Recycle Bin on Mac.

Zip, Zap, Zoom

Gemini 2 can analyze your music libraries, system files and even your external storage to locate these duplicate space-hungry files. Ultimately, even 50 MB to 1 GB of space can make all the difference when needed.

I have sometimes used Gemini 2 with smart folders to keep my MacBook Air 128 GB free from unnecessary clutter. If storage and organization are really important to you, then you should try at least one of these two solutions in this post.


Want to click on a screenshot of an entire web page? Read the following link to find out the four best tools for capturing a scrolling screenshot on your Mac.

Last updated June 30, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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