How to Find & Delete Duplicate Files on Mac with Smart Folders

Sep 17, 2020 - 4 Comments

How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac

Depending on your line of work you may end up in a scenario where you have a variety of duplicate files on a Mac. Sometimes this goes unnoticed, but occasionally the Mac will run low on storage space and you might want to free up space by finding and removing those duplicate files from the Mac. Thankfully, finding duplicate files on macOS is not nearly as hard as you may think.

If you’ve been using the same Mac for a while, it may have accumulated a large collection of files that could potentially include duplicates that use up valuable storage space on your device. This can be particularly true with large media files, since often users will duplicate a video file, project, or PSD file before modifying it further. By removing these unnecessary files, you can gain back some of your storage space that could be used for other data or something more important. This is especially valid considering the fact that SSDs in most modern Macs aren’t user upgradeable.

Finding these duplicate files is the hard part though, but if you couldn’t figure that out, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be discussing how you can use a smart folder to find duplicate files stored on your Mac.

How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac

Regardless of whether you own a MacBook or iMac or Mac Pro, finding duplicates is actually a pretty simple and straightforward procedure on macOS. Just follow the steps below to get started.

  1. Click on “File” in the menu bar of your Mac desktop.

    How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac
  2. Now, choose “New Smart Folder” from the dropdown menu.

    How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac
  3. This will open a window on your screen. Click on the “+” icon located next to the “Save” option as shown in the screenshot below.

    How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac
  4. Choose the “Kind” drop-down menu and select a file type you want to narrow the search down by.
  5. Now, you’ll be able to browse for all files stored on your Mac, based on the file type whether they’re documents, applications, music files, etc. Scroll through this grid view to find the duplicate files you want to delete, it helps to order the file list by ‘name’ so that you can easily identify duplicate files

    How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac
  6. Confirm the files are duplicates by opening them and comparing the documents in question, you can also use “Get Info” on the files to make sure the documents are the same file size
  7. You can right-click on any of the duplicate files and choose “Move to Trash / Bin”. To permanently remove it from your system, you just need to right-click on the Trash Bin in your Mac desktop and empty the Trash bin.

    How to Find Duplicate Files on Mac

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Now you’ve learned how to find duplicate files on your Mac with ease using the built-in smart folder feature which uses search tools on the Mac to narrow a folder by file type.

Third Party Duplicate File Finders for Mac

Although the approach we just covered is one way to find and remove duplicate files on your macOS device, there are several third-party apps that are available on the App Store which makes this process easier and more seamless as they are specifically designed for this purpose. These apps can automatically search your system and show you duplicate files that can be removed.

For example, you can try out apps like DupeGuru, which we have discussed for this purpose before, Gemini 2, or Duplicate File Finder Remover which are free to use but offer paid upgrades for full features, and you may find them to be useful for tracking down data redundancy.

Gemini duplicate file finder for Mac

If you have any particular experiences with third party duplicate file finders for MacOS, do share your thoughts about those in the comments of course!

Freeing up storage? There’s more to try

Other than deleting duplicate files, you can also free up space by remove the “Other” data and also delete apps, documents, files, and backups that you no longer use. Make sure to check your Mac’s storage space regularly to see if you have ample space for new software, and also to perform best, as macOS likes to have.

If you’re subscribed to iCloud, have a solid internet connection, and like using cloud storage services, you can also move some of the files, photos, and documents to iCloud when you’re running low on storage space. For example, you can use iCloud Photos on the Mac to seamlessly share pictures between Macs (and iPhone and iPads) while also not overburdening local storage space. iCloud files get automatically synced across all your Apple devices, which only adds convenience as you switch between devices.

Were you able to find and remove duplicate files that were stored on your Mac? Have you used a third-party app for the same purpose? Which method is your preferred approach to finding duplicate data on your computer? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Christopher Heckman says:

    Or … open a regular folder, and search for “.pdf”. When the window popups up, select “PDF Document”.

    I was expecting the Smart Folder to actually point out duplicate files, not that I’d have to look for them myself.

  2. Jeremy Rose says:

    There is no ‘new smart folder’ tab on my Mac? Running MacOS Mojave 10.14.6

  3. Yuz says:

    Are there any apps that will replace duplicates with apfs clones? This would seem to be a terrific way to safely reduce storage space without breaking anything

    Also, why don’t any of the third party apps use hashing functions to determine whether the files are exact duplicates? Using file size and other attributes seems a bit clunky

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