How to Find Duplicate Files in Google Drive and Mass Delete Unwanted Duplicates

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Rosa Reyes
December 04, 2023 Preview 22.4K Preview 1
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Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage services. It allows users to easily store, access, share and collaborate on files from anywhere. As with any storage service or device, there can be duplicate files in Google Drive. Duplicates take up space and can make it less easy to manage files. This article will show you how to find and delete duplicate files in Google Drive easily.

 

Method 1. How to find and remove duplicates in Google Drive via its desktop app

Duplicate files are files that are exactly the same, regardless of name. This method will help Windows PC users and Mac users automatically find duplicate files in Google Drive and let them delete all unwanted duplicates with a single click.

Note: This method doesn’t support finding duplicates created by the Google Docs Editors suite, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.

1. On your computer, download and install the Google Drive app.

2. Download and install Cisdem Duplicate Finder. Open it.

Free Download   Free Download

3. In this Google Drive duplicate finder, click the Add button + to add My Drive.

My Drive is added

4. Click the settings icon the settings icon in the top right corner. In the Ignore files of particular extensions section, add “gdoc, gsheet, gslides, gdraw, gform, gsite”. Click OK. And then click Scan the Scan button.

the Settings window

5. When the scan is complete, the results window will display all the duplicate files found in your Google Drive. You can view and preview them.

the results window displaying the found duplicate files

6. In each set of duplicate files, Cisdem Duplicate Finder has automatically selected all but one for removal. Or, you can select/deselect by hand or choose a desired selection rule.

duplicates are selected for deletion

7. Now all the unwanted duplicate files are selected. Click Delete to delete them.

The deleted duplicate files will go to the Bin (drive.google.com/drive/trash) and stay there for 30 days. If you want, you can eliminate them immediately in the Bin by clicking Empty bin in the top right corner. Or, Google Drive will delete them forever after 30 days.

Important: In step 3, make sure that you know where to scan. To only find duplicate files in My Drive (drive.google.com/drive/my-drive), scan My Drive. I recommend this practice.

My Drive

(In this paragraph, I would like to talk about another situation. If you want, you can skip this paragraph. If you have set a certain local folder on your computer to sync with Google Drive, this certain local folder will appear in “drive.google.com/drive/computers”. If you want to find duplicate files between this certain local folder and “drive.google.com/drive/my-drive”, just add both this local folder and My Drive to scan in step 3. Cisdem Duplicate Finders allows you to find duplicate files in a folder/drive or in and across multiple locations.)

Tip 1. How to download and install the Google Drive app

1. Go to www.google.com/drive/download.

2. Click Download Drive for desktop to download the Google Drive app.

3. Install the app.

4. Sign in to Google Drive with your account.

the sign in button

5. Click the Google Drive icon the Google Drive icon in the Taskbar (on Windows) or the top menu bar (on Mac). Click the settings icon the settings icon in the top right corner of the window that appears and choose Preferences.

Preferences is chosen

6. On the left, choose Google Drive. Select Stream files as the syncing option. Click Open in Explorer (on Windows) or Open in Finder (on Mac).

Google Drive is chosen on the left

Now you can browse and open Google Drive from your computer and scan it for duplicate files.

Google Drive is seen in the sidebar in File Explorer

Tip 2. Help you better remove duplicate photos from Google Drive

In addition to duplicate photos (and other duplicate files), this duplicate file finder for Google Drive can find photos that look the same but are different in resolutions or formats and similar photos.

After the scan, the Images tab in the results window will display duplicate photos, and the Similar Images tab will display non-exact duplicates and similar photos. In each set, you can pick the best photo(s) and then select the rest for deletion.

the Similar Images tab

This way, all the unwanted duplicate photos will be removed from your Google Drive.

 

Method 2. How to find duplicate files in Google Drive directly online

This method will show you how to identify and delete duplicate files in Google Drive without using the Google Drive app.

The method uses Cloud Duplicate Finder, a web-based duplicate file finder that supports Google Drive. And there are two facts to know about it.

  • To use Cloud Duplicate Finder, first make sure that you trust it. You will have to allow it to access your Google account, which gives it permission to access, edit and delete all your Google Drive files.
  • The identification of duplicates is free, but you need to pay to delete them.

Below are the steps.

1. Visit www.cloudduplicatefinder.com.

2. Sign in with your Google account.

3. At the top of the page, choose Google Drive.

Google Drive is chosen

4. In the left sidebar, click Add New Drive.

5. Allow this duplicate file finder to access your Google account.

6. In the left sidebar, select the Google Drive checkbox.

7. Click Scan. When the scan is complete, you will see the found duplicate files.

the scan results window displaying groups of duplicate files

8. Manually select the duplicates that you don't want to keep. Or, you can click the Select Duplicates pop-up menu and choose a selection rule.

9. To remove duplicates from Google Drive, click the Select Action pop-up menu and choose Permanent Delete.

Tip: It’s very likely that this method won’t find all the duplicate files in your Google Drive. But there is a trick that may help. Before step 6, create a new folder in Google Drive and then move all the files that don’t belong to any folder to this new folder.

Like Cloud Duplicate Finder, another web-based tool called “Duplicate File Finder, Cleaner for Drive” can also help you with the task.

 

Method 3. How to find duplicates with Google Drive add-on

Clean Drive is an app that helps organize and remove unnecessary files from Google Drive. It is also available as Google Drive add-on. If you don’t have personal and sensitive files in your account, using this add-on is also handy.

1. Install Clean Drive for your Google Drive.

install Clean Drive

2. Sign in with your Google account. Make sure you trust this tool and click Allow.

sign in your Google account

3. Now you have successfully installed this Google Workspace add-on. Go to drive.google.com. You can find it on the right sidebar.

find Clean Drive on the Google Drive sidebar

4. Click on it. Tap Continue with Google.

5. Click Scan. The scan results will appear immediately. In addition to duplicate files, Clean Drive also detects empty files with no data in them, temporary files that you may no longer need, hidden files and more.

Note that with the Clean Drive free plan, you can only scan Google Drive for duplicates 1 time per month. For more times or to unlock more advanced feature, you need to upgrade.

6. To delete duplicate files in Google Drive, select Duplicates Files from the scan results list.

7. Manually check the boxes next to the files you want to delete. Or let Clean Drive bulk select the oldest/newest files in each duplicate set for you. You are allowed to delete up to 500 files per month.

find duplicate files in Google Drive with Clean Drive add-on

8. Click the trash icon on the upper left corner. Then the files will be moved to your Google Drive trash.

 

Method 4. How to manually find and delete duplicate files in Google Drive

Google Drive doesn’t detect the duplicate files that exist in your account, but you can manually find them.

1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com/drive/my-drive. Sign in with your Google account.

2. In the search box at the top of the page, click the Search options icon to access the advanced search settings.

3. Select a file type, such as Photos & images or Documents. Click Search.

the advanced search settings

4. Sort files by Most relevant on the upper right.

5. Switch to the List layout on the upper right. Now you can easily spot groups of duplicate files by name or size or both. Note: Pay attention to files with names that contain “(1)” or “copy”.

For duplicate photos, the Grid layout is easier to view.

6. In each group, view and preview the files to decide which one(s) to delete.

7. Control-select multiple duplicates and click the Trash icon to remove them from your Google Drive account.

duplicates are selected for removal

Continue deleting until there is no duplicate.

 

FAQs about Google Drive duplicate files

Does google drive upload duplicates?

The short answer is no and yes.

Years ago, if you tried to upload duplicate files to Google Drive, your files would be uploaded and got names like File (1), File (2) and so on, which could cause confusion and made it harder to organize files.

Now Google can skip duplicate uploads. If you reupload a file to Google Drive, or if your account already has a file whose name and format is the same with the file you are uploading, this upload will be detected and ignored. In addition, you will see an “Upload options” dialog.

But, according to my tests, Google Drive identifies duplicate files only based on name and format, and the content isn’t taken into consideration. This means that Google Drive can’t detect all duplicates during upload. Also, the detection will fail if you upload the same file to different folders in your account separately.

Well, can Google Drive find the duplicates that are already in your account? The answer is no.

Why does Google Drive create duplicates?

Some Google Drive duplicate files are created during upload. For example, if you have a lot of files and folders on your computer ready to be uploaded, you can't go into each folder to check for duplicates before uploading. Also, the Google Drive app may duplicate files due to improper settings or sync issues.

Does Google Drive create duplicate files after editing?

When it comes to multiple copies of the same Office file such as a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, Google Drive will merge them and only keep the latest uploaded version (with the other versions being available for viewing and restoring). For example, to access the older versions of a document, choose to open it with Google Docs. In the menu bar, select File > Version history > See version history.

How to stop Google Drive from duplicating files?

You can avoid duplicate files in Google Drive by removing them regularly. You can also prevent them from appearing in the first place. You can do the following:

  • Understand how the Google Drive app works.
  • Properly configure the sync settings. It’s more recommended to turn off the sync feature and upload files to Google Drive manually. You can disable the sync in Google Drive website directly. Sign in with your account. Click the Settings icon on the upper right corner of the screen. Then uncheck the box next to "Offline".

Conclusion

Google Drive’s duplicate detection feature significantly prevents duplicates from being uploaded. But it’s not enough. There can still be file duplicates. This article shows you how to find and delete Google Drive duplicate files in different ways. I hope it helps. By removing duplicates, you can organize files more easily and free up storage space.

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Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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  • Bernd Sälzle

    it's very difficult to manually find all duplicate files in google drive as some file names have been changed. this article helped me clean up them easily. thanks!

    0 months ago commonReply

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