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How to Find, Merge, and Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac: 3 Best Ways

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Last updated: August 26, 2023

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As our digital photo libraries grow, so does the likelihood of accumulating duplicate images. These unnecessary duplicates consume valuable storage space, create clutter, and make managing our memories a tad more complicated.

Whether they’re the result of accidental multiple imports, backups, or sharing, duplicates are pesky intruders that need addressing. So, in this article, I’ll share the 3 best ways to find, merge, and delete duplicate photos on Mac.

Before We Begin

If your Mac is full of duplicate images and you’re not in the habit of regular clean-ups, MacKeeper is your best friend. MacKeeper’s Duplicate Finder ensures you can effortlessly and securely remove those redundant photos in just a few clicks.

Why Are There Duplicate Photos on Your Mac?

There could be several reasons why you have duplicate photos on your Mac. Here’s a look at some of the most common causes:

  • 🔄 Multiple Imports: It’s easy to accidentally import the same set of photos more than once into software like Apple’s Photos app. This might occur if you’re re-importing from an SD card or another device without realizing that you’ve already added those photos to your library.
  • 📦 Data Transfers: If you’ve migrated data from one Mac to another or from an old hard drive to a new one, you might inadvertently transfer the original photos and their duplicates.
  • 👪 Shared Libraries: If you have shared photo libraries with family or friends or synced multiple devices to the same iCloud account, you can end up with multiple copies of the same images.
  • 🎨 Editing and Saving: When editing photos, some software creates a new copy of the image to preserve the original. If you make several edits at different times and save them without overwriting the original, you’ll end up with multiple variants of the same photo.
  • 💾 Backup Software: Some backup software solutions might create duplicates. For instance, if you’ve set up automatic backups but change the destination folder, you may end up with copies in different locations.
  • ⬇️ Downloads: Downloading the same image multiple times from the web or email attachments can result in duplicates stored in your download folder.
  • 📁 Manual Copying: Sometimes, you might manually copy photos to different folders for specific purposes (like creating a slideshow or a project) and then forget to delete the extra copies.
  • 📲 Third-party Apps: Some applications, especially photo-sharing or cloud-storage apps, might save copies of photos you upload, leading to duplicates if those photos already exist on your Mac.

Understanding the cause of duplicate photos can help you prevent them in the future. Periodically checking and cleaning up duplicates is also a good habit to ensure your photo library remains organized and manageable.

Why Do You Need to Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac?

Clearing out duplicate photos on your Mac is not just about organization. Here are some compelling reasons, paired with fitting emojis, to illustrate why you should address and remove those duplicate images:

  • 🚀 Boost Performance: Duplicate photos consume valuable disk space. By freeing up this space, you can potentially enhance the performance of your Mac.
  • 🧐 Easy Searching: With fewer duplicates, finding the photo you need becomes much simpler and faster.
  • 💽 Save Storage Space: Photos, especially high-resolution ones, can take up significant space. Eliminating duplicates can recover gigabytes of storage.
  • 📊 Effective Backup: Backing up your data becomes more efficient when you’re not redundantly saving the same photos. This not only speeds up the backup process but also saves space on your backup drives or cloud storage.
  • 🌈 Organized Library: An organized photo library free from duplicates is more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate.
  • 💡 Better Editing Workflow: Without duplicates, you won’t waste time editing the wrong version of a photo or making the same edits multiple times.
  • 💰 Save Money: If you’re paying for cloud storage based on the amount of data you store, reducing duplicates can decrease the cost.
  • 🔋 Conserve Energy: Searching, indexing, and backing up duplicate photos consume energy. By reducing the workload of your Mac, you can marginally improve its energy efficiency.

Eliminating duplicate photos is a simple yet effective way to optimize various aspects of your digital experience, from saving money to streamlining workflows.

How to Find, Merge, and Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac

Whether you’re an avid photographer, a screenshot enthusiast, or someone who just loves capturing the moment, duplicate photos can quickly pile up, making your once-organized library a labyrinth of repetitions.

In this section, I’ll walk you through the steps to find, merge, and delete duplicate photos on Mac, ensuring your photo collection remains as pristine as possible.

1. Delete Duplicate Photos on Mac in One Click With MacKeeper

Modern software solutions can be a boon for quickly and efficiently managing your growing photo library. MacKeeper, in particular, stands out as a versatile utility that doesn’t just protect your Mac but also assists in decluttering your digital space.

Let’s explore how to use MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder to erase those redundant images effortlessly:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper on your Mac and click Duplicates Finder in the left sidebar.
click duplicates finder in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in duplicates finder
  1. Select a folder in the left menu to review duplicate files before deletion.
click an item in the left sidebar
  1. Alternatively, you can click Check All and tap the Remove Selected button to remove all duplicate files at once.
click check all and tap remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in duplicates finder
  1. This will remove the selected files, and you’ll get a Removal Completed message. Click Finish to end the process.
click finish to complete the process

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides getting rid of pesky duplicates, MacKeeper offers valuable optimization tools to clear the cache, delete unwanted apps, and optimize your Mac’s storage. Learn more about its features in my detailed Mackeeper review.

2. Find and Delete Duplicates With the Photos App

Apple’s built-in Photos app isn’t just for viewing and editing your memories. It also comes with functionalities that, when used with a bit of patience, can help you pinpoint those elusive duplicates hiding in plain sight. This manual method gives you more control, ensuring you delete only the images you intend to.

Here’s how to find and delete duplicate photos on Mac with the Photos app:

  1. Open the Photos app by searching for Photos in Spotlight search (Command ⌘ + Space).
type photos in spotlight search
  1. In the Photos app, navigate to the Duplicates tab in the sidebar to see all your pictures.
click the duplicates tab in the photos app
  1. Select the duplicate photos you wish to merge. You can pick photos from a single row or from multiple rows to merge them all at once.
  2. Then, click Merge Photos.
  3. By doing so, your Mac will retain the original image and remove the duplicates.

3. Find and Remove Duplicate Photos on Mac Via Finder

If you prefer a more hands-on approach and want to bypass third-party software or built-in apps, the Mac’s Finder tool is a potent ally. It allows you to search through all the files and folders on your system. So, you can use Finder to track down duplicate images scattered across your hard drive.

Here’s how to find and remove duplicate photos on Mac using Finder:

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. With a Finder window open, click File and then New Smart Folder.
click file in the menu bar and select new smart folder
  1. Click the + button in the top-right corner to add criteria for your search.
click the icon in the upper right corner of the new smart folder window
  1. Choose Kind, Image, and PNG, as the first, second, and third conditions.
  2. Click the + sign again, select Name, choose is, and type in copy.
  3. Then, click the Save button in the top-right corner. 
set search parameters and click save
  1. Specify a name and location for your Smart Folder and tap the Save button on the pop-up window.
specify a name and location for your smart folder and tap save
  1. Manually go through the results to identify duplicate photos. Once you find duplicates, right-click them and select Move to Bin or drag them to the Bin.
  2. Don’t forget to empty the Trash on your Mac to remove the files permanently.

Given the broad search results, this might be a bit tedious.

Get Rid of Duplicate Photos on Mac

Having learned how to find, merge, and delete duplicate photos on Mac, you might be keen to further enhance your Mac’s performance and reclaim more storage space. Here are some pointers to set you on the right path:

  • While duplicate photos occupy the most space on your Mac, there are other duplicates files, too. So, you may want to delete all duplicate files on your Mac and get rid of clutter.
  • Clean up your Mac and declutter it regularly to prevent unwanted files and apps from piling up.
  • If you get a lot of messages, you should delete messages on MacBook to make it easier for you to find the necessary conversations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Mac Photos find duplicates?

    Yes, the Mac Photos app can find duplicates. Within the app, there’s a Duplicates tab that allows you to identify and manage repetitive images easily. Ensure you review the detected duplicates before taking any action to prevent accidental deletions.

  2. Can Mac’s Photos delete duplicates?

    Yes, Mac’s Photos app can identify duplicates, especially during import, but for systematic detection and deletion, you’d often rely on manual methods or third-party software. After spotting duplicates, you can manually delete them within the Photos app. Always review the images carefully before deletion to avoid removing cherished photos.

  3. How do I mass merge duplicate photos on a Mac?

    To mass merge duplicate photos on a Mac, navigate to the Duplicates tab. Select desired duplicates using the Command ⌘ key or use Edit > Select All. Click Merge X Items (where X is the number of selected images) at the top-right. Always ensure a backup before merging.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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