How to Find and Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac Easily: 4 Ways

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Rosa Reyes
November 17, 2023 Preview 18.0K Preview 3
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There can be exact duplicate photos (photos that are exactly identical, regardless of name) in folders and the Photos app on your Mac. There can also be non-exact duplicate photos, i.e. photos that look the same but have different resolutions, metadata, file sizes, or formats. In addition, you may have near-duplicate photos, aka similar photos. This article shows you how to find and delete duplicate photos on Mac in 4 different ways.

  Method 1 Method 2 Method 3 Method 4
Compatibility macOS 10.11 or later macOS 10.10.3 or later macOS 13 or later All macOS versions
Work with Photos app, folders Photos app Photos app Folders
Find duplicates Automatically Manually Automatically Manually
Remove duplicates Manually, all at once Manually, one by one Manually, one by one Manually, one by one
Click for instructions Click Click Click Click

 

Method 1. How to find and delete duplicate photos on Mac with duplicate photo finder software

Applies to: macOS 10.11 or later (such as macOS Ventura, macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, and macOS High Sierra)

This method can help you find and delete:

  • Exact duplicate photos on Mac Photos app/folders (even in different locations).
  • Non-exact duplicate photos with different resolutions, metadata.
  • Non-exact duplicate photos with different sizes.
  • Non-exact duplicate photos with different brightness, filters, etc.
  • Non-exact duplicate photos with different formats, like PNG, RAW, JPEG, etc.
  • Near-duplicate photos taken at different angles.
  • Lightly edited photos.

The easiest and quickest way to get rid of duplicate pictures on Mac is to use software like Cisdem Duplicate Finder. Cisdem Duplicate Finder can scan for duplicate files in the Photos app (or more precisely the Photos library) and folders. The identification of duplicates is automatic, quick and accurate. The removal of duplicates only requires a couple of clicks. There is also a lot of customizability. Everything is in your control.

Step 1. Install duplicate photo finder software.

Download and install Cisdem Duplicate Finder. Open it.

Free Download macOS 10.11 or later

Step 2. Add locations to scan.

To look for duplicate photos in one or multiple folders, click the Add button, select the folder(s), and click Open. Alternatively, you can use drag and drop.

To find duplicates in Photos app on Mac, just add the Photos library, which is by default located in the Pictures folder.

Cisdem Duplicate Finder window with an Add button, a Settings button and a Scan button showing that a Photos library is added

Step 3. Customize the settings (optional).

Go to Settings to customize the settings if needed. For example, you can exclude certain files and folders from the scan.

To find non-exact duplicate photos and near-duplicate ones, make sure that the Enable similar images function checkbox (under the Similar images tab) is selected.

the Similar images tab of the Settings window showing that the Enable similar images function checkbox is selected

Step 4. Click Scan.

Click Scan to start scanning for duplicate photos. The time the scan takes depends on the number of files.

Step 5. View the found duplicate photos.

When the scan is complete, the results window will appear. Its Image tab displays exact duplicate photos. The Similar Image tab displays non-exact duplicates and near duplicates.

There are three view modes. The first one allows you to conveniently preview photos side by side. The other modes allow you to preview photos and view photo information like a photo’s location, size and resolution.

the Results window showing several sets of duplicate photos

Step 6. Select duplicates for removal.

In each set of exact duplicate photos, the software has already automatically selected all but one for deletion. You can also select or deselect by hand. In addition, you can use a selection rule. On the left of the results window, highlight the sets you want to apply a rule to, click the List button and choose the desired rule.

the Results window showing that four duplicate photos are selected for deletion

As for non-exact duplicate photos and near-duplicate ones, in each set, you can manually select the unwanted ones for deletion. The selection rules can also help you select.

Step 7. Delete all duplicates with a click.

Click Delete in the bottom right corner to delete all selected photos at once. Confirm the deletion.

The duplicate pictures removed from folders will go to Trash. The duplicates deleted in the Photos app will go to the Recently Deleted album.

 

Method 2. How to look for and remove duplicate photos on Mac with Smart Album

Applies to: macOS 10.10.3 or later

This method can help you:

  • Search the Photos app for photos from a specific date or a date range.
  • Search the Photos app for photos with the same or similar ISO, focal length, etc.
  • Search the Photos app for photos with similar file names (containing a specific keywords, starting with specific words, etc.).
  • Search the Photos app for photos with the same or similar description.

If duplicates clutter your Photos app and you want to get rid of them manually, this free method is for you.

Browsing through all your photos to manually identify duplicates can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially if you have a large library. Luckily, Photos allows you to create Smart Albums, helping you classify your photos into different groups. This helps both break down your library into smaller chunks and put possible duplicate pictures into the same group.

Smart Album helps streamline the process of manually looking for duplicates, but this method is still not that efficient.

Step 1. Create a new Smart Album.

In the Photos app, from the File menu at the top of your screen, choose New Smart Album.

the File menu showing the New Smart Album option and other options

Step 2. Set conditions to classify photos.

In the dialog that appears, you can set one or multiple conditions. Each condition has three pop-up menus, letting you easily and efficiently set conditions based on your needs.

For example, if you set the condition to be “Photo is selfie”, this album will only display all the selfies in your library, including identical selfies. This way, it will be very easy to spot duplicates.

a dialog showing a condition

The more conditions you set, the more the photos in this album have in common and the less photos.

Step 3. Click OK.

Click OK, and you will find this album in the Album section in the sidebar.

Step 4. Identify and delete duplicates.

Open the Smart Album. Identify duplicate photos by visual similarity. In each set of identical photos or similar ones, you can decide which to keep and which to eliminate by checking resolutions, sizes, formats, metadata, etc.

Select one or multiple unwanted duplicates, control-click, and choose Delete [number] Photos. Continue deleting others.

 

Method 3. How to find and delete duplicate photos on Mac with the Duplicates album

Applies to: macOS 13 or later

This method helps you find and delete/merge:

  • Exact duplicate photos in Photos app.
  • Non-exact duplicates with different metadata after editing.

(After testing, I found that it couldn't identify similar images that were shot at slightly different angles. Often, it only found duplicate images that I edited with different file sizes, and not all of them. I have almost 7000 photos in my Photos app and obviously there are a lot of duplicate photos in there, but it shows that I only have 30 sets of duplicates.)

If your Mac is running macOS Ventura or later and you want to easily find duplicate pictures in Photos on your Mac without third-party software, you can use this free method.

The Photos app in macOS Ventura or later automatically detects exactly identical photos and non-exact duplicates in the library. Unlike with Method 1, you can’t customize how it detects. The detected duplicates appear in the Duplicates album. Since the detection process is automatic, you don’t need to start the detection.

Step 1. Open the Duplicates album.

In Photos, go to the sidebar on the left and click Duplicates. If Duplicates doesn’t show in the sidebar, try these tips.

Step 2. View duplicate photos.

The Duplicates album neatly displays the sets of duplicates found in your library. In each set, you can view photos side by side and see their sizes.

Photos window showing the Duplicates album in the sidebar on the left and two sets of duplicate photos on the left

If you can’t see any duplicate in the album and are presented with a Finding Duplicates message, just wait.

Step 3. Remove duplicate photos.

There are two removal options: merge and delete.

Each set comes with a Merge Items button. For a set of exact duplicates, clicking the button will automatically keep the photo that Apple considers to be the highest quality version and remove the rest. For a set of near duplicates, clicking the button will automatically keep the photo with highest quality (like the highest resolution) and remove the rest.

a Merge Duplicates message showing that two exact duplicate photos are to be merged

Also, you can manually decide which to keep and which to eliminate. In a set, select the unwanted version(s), control-click, and choose Delete [number] Photo(s).

There isn’t a way to merge or delete all duplicate photos, so you need to deal with them individually. If you want to get rid of them all at once, use Method 1.

How does Duplicates Album merge duplicates?

You may confuse that how does Apple decide which photos to delete and which one to keep when merging duplicates. Apple said it would keep the better quality photo. I did a few tests and merged 4 sets of duplicates in the Duplicates Album. Among them, there are 2 sets of portrait photos and 2 sets of landscape photos. It all kept the smaller file size. But in my case, the higher file sizes are better quality.

 

Method 4. How to identify and clean up duplicate photos on Mac with Smart Folder

Applies to: All macOS versions

This method helps:

  • Search the Mac folders for photos from a specific date or a date range.
  • Search the Mac folders for photos with similar file names (containing a specific keywords, ending with specific words, etc.).
  • Search the Mac folders for photos with the same file formats.
  • Sort photos in Mac folders by file size, data, etc.

To handle the duplicate pictures in folders on a Mac for free, you can use this method.

You can go to Finder, open the folder, go through all files there, and manually look for duplicate photos to get rid of. But this can be inefficient.  For example, if there are also some other types of files like audios and documents, you need to ignore them and pay attention only to images. If there are subfolders, you need to compare photos between locations.

Here’s the good news. In Finder, you can create a Smart Folder to organize files in a way that facilitates manually finding duplicate images.

Step 1. Create a new Smart Folder.

In Finder on your Mac, first open the folder in which you want to delete duplicate photos. From the File menu at the top of the screen, choose New Smart Folder.

a File menu showing the New Smart Folder option and other options

Step 2. Specify the criteria.

First, make sure the search location is the folder of your choice.

Click the Add button in the top right corner to add a rule. In the rule, click the pop-up menu on the left to choose Kind, and click the pop-up menu on the right to choose Image. (If you also want to specify the image format, choose the desired format in the new pop-up menu that appears.) You can add other rules if needed.

Now the Smart Folder displays only all the photos from the folder of your choice, including the ones in subfolders.

a Finder Smart Folder window showing eight photos, among them are two sets of duplicate photos

Step 3. Sort photos.

You can sort photos by different attributes (such as Name, Size, or Date Created) until it’s the easiest for you to spot duplicates.

Step 4. Find and remove duplicate photos.

Finder offers four views: as Icons, as List, as Columns and as Gallery. You can choose the view that you think is the most convenient for manually comparing photos to identify duplicates. I personally like the as Icons view. The as Gallery view is also great.

Select the duplicates that you want to clean up, control-click, and choose Move to Trash.

 

Q&As

Why are there duplicate photos on my Mac?

There can be various causes. For example, copying photos to different folders creates exact duplicate photos, possibly with “2” in their names. If you set your camera to save both the JPEG version and the RAW version of a photo, importing photos from your camera will lead to non-exact duplicate photos on your Mac. Burst mode shooting, taking photos from slightly different angles, and slightly editing photos can lead to similar photos.

How do I delete duplicate photos in iPhotos on Mac?

iPhoto is the predecessor of the Photos app. If you have an iPhoto library cluttered with duplicates, you can import the library to the Photos app and then use Method 1 or Method 3 to remove the duplicates.

 

Conclusion

Keeping your photo collection free from duplicate photos brings a more seamless and enjoyable viewing experience and makes it easier to organize photos. In addition, eliminating the unnecessary copies or lower quality versions of the same photos frees up storage space and makes room for new photos. This article talks about in detail how to find and delete duplicate photos on Mac in the Photos app and folders in different ways, including free ones. No matter what macOS version you use, new or old, you can find this article helpful.

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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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Comments (3) Leave a Reply

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  • Lilli Schrauzer

    Apple Photos has Duplicates album that automatically detect duplicates, but I still prefer third-party tools for their flexibility. Good article. Thank you!

    0 months ago commonReply

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  • Dirk Maxeiner

    I tried. The application is wonderful. Find duplicate files, pictures, archives and more. THANK YOU!

    1 years ago commonReply

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  • Adrian

    Thank you for the instructions! They are easy to understand. I followed the steps and it worked. The duplicates are gone.

    2 years ago commonReply

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