How to Remove Duplicate Photos on Mac

Man sitting at desk editing photo photoshop

How to Remove Duplicate Photos on Mac

These days, we tend to collect photos like Pokemon cards. Our camera rolls become stuffed with memories, eventually taking up precious data. Over time, this can be quite problematic. 

When your Mac is overwhelmed with data saved by items like photos, its performance will become significantly hindered. Loading times become slower, and programs don’t operate at their best capacity. 

After a while, it just becomes a nuisance!

Sometimes, we accumulate duplicate photos without realizing it. We take accidental screenshots or photos of our dog at 12 different angles, filling up the storage on our Mac until it’s too late.

Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to remove duplicate photos on your Mac.

There are a few foolproof methods that won’t take too much time out of your day to complete.

If you’re already at this point, or you simply want to do some spring cleaning, we can break down the process into a few simple steps.

Removing Duplicate Photos Using The Photos App

Sorting through your photo albums on Mac can take hours or even days to complete when you sift through them manually. Most of us have hundreds, if not thousands, of files that are named something like “IMG_1348” on our desktop or thrown haphazardly into random folders.

Nobody has the time, nor energy, to manually search for each Image file, especially if you’ve had your Mac for several years.

The Photos app method is especially effective if you have your Photos synced to your iCloud. Anything you delete via this method will also be removed from your iCloud storage. Remember to pay attention to your work to make sure you don’t delete anything important.

You can use the Photos app to easily identify duplicates. This method allows you to merge duplicate photos into one using macOS Ventura 13.4.

Before you begin, double-check the OS version on your Mac. Earlier OS versions occasionally experienced a bug that removed the “Duplicates” folder from their screen. If you cannot see the “Duplicates” folder, update your OS and try again.

Step 1: Open The “Photos” App

Launch “Photos” as normal.

mac photos app icon

Step 2: Click “Duplicates”

Find the left-hand sidebar under the “Photos” menu.

looking through finder

Click on the word “Duplicates” at the bottom of the sidebar. 

duplicates on mac

Step 4: Identify The Duplicates

You’ll immediately see a number of duplicate photos. Now, you can sort through these duplicate photos to merge them into one.

Merging your photos removes the need to individually delete each one. This still takes a bit of time, but it still could save you hours.

duplicates in photos app

Step 5: Merge The Photos

Simply click on the button that says “Merge (Number Of) Photos.”

merge duplicates

Your Mac will keep the original version of your photo and delete the duplicates for you!

This saves so much time and storage on your Mac. You may be surprised at how many duplicates have been sitting in your camera roll all this time.

Most people don’t realize how many duplicates they’ve kept unnecessarily. Removing them feels like a breath of fresh air for your computer and, honestly, for you!

Removing Duplicate Photos Using Finder

Macs are organized similarly to bedrooms. We try to keep them nice and tidy, but over time, we accumulate so much stuff that it gets jumbled.

Duplicate photos are like lost clothes in your closet. You swore you were going to need that sweater someday, but it’s been sitting on a hanger for five years, unworn. 

The Finder method is a bit more advanced than using the “Duplicates” folder from your Photos app. Still, it’s worth the extra effort to learn so you can optimize your organizational systems in the future.

Duplicate photos can linger around random places on your Mac, making it difficult to find them in your camera roll. Mac utilizes a system called “SmartFolders” to make it easier to quickly find duplicate photos.

This method is useful for people who tend to forget to rename their photos after they save them. 

Screenshots tend to fit into this category, with many users reporting hundreds or even thousands of accidental and duplicate screenshot photos taking up precious storage space.

Step 1: Open Finder

Launch “Finder” as normal.

Step 2: Make A New SmartFolder

From the “File” dropdown menu, select “New Smart Folder.”

merge duplicates on mac

Keep the default setting as “This Mac,” then click on the + in the upper right hand corner.

search mac for photos

Change the “Kind” of file option to “Image.”

find photos on mac

At this stage, you’ll clearly be able to identify duplicate photos. You can edit the names of the photos for easy organization. 

Step 3: Delete Duplicates

Now that you can easily see and identify duplicate photos in your SmartFolder, select each one that you’d like to delete. Simply control+click on them and select “move to trash.”

To completely remove the duplicate photos from your Mac, open the trash bin and select “empty trash.”

Why Are There So Many Duplicate Photos On My Mac?

There are accidental and intentional duplicates.

If you’re a photographer, you likely take multiple angles of the same shot before you get it just right.

Or, maybe you spent a long time trying to get the perfect selfie.

Or you have hundreds of photos of your dog at the park. 

These things can cause a ruckus in your storage. Mac storage is incredibly sensitive, and it doesn’t take much to fill it up. 

Duplicate photos are one of the leading causes of full storage on Mac. 

Improved Performance From Deleting Duplicate Photos

There are fewer nuisances that are more irritating than a slow-operating Mac.

Both new and old Mac models alike lose their speed over time, but young Macs can be taken care of to minimize the likelihood of it facing issues in the future.

Deleting duplicate photos from your Mac is one simple way to promote longevity for your Mac.

If you are consistently removing unnecessary files from your storage, your Mac will run noticeably faster and have improved overall performance, even with larger applications like coding text editors.

Which Method Should I Use To Delete Duplicate Photos On Mac?

This largely depends on personal preference. It really narrows down to where you tend to store your photos.

Plus, some people have more experience using Finder, whereas others may be a bit intimidated by it.

It would be a good idea to experiment with both methods until you find what works for you.

There is also a secret option: third-party apps that delete your duplicate photos for you.

Third-Party Apps To Delete Duplicate Photos

This is the least recommended method to delete duplicate photos on Mac.

Sure, there are hundreds of apps out there that promise to remove your duplicates without you having to lift a finger–but that’s the problem.

These apps are often one-click wonders.

You press one button and poof, your duplicates are gone. 

It sounds great, right? Even the two options we’ve mentioned take up quite a bit of time if you’ve accumulated a hefty enough camera roll.

Some people have thousands of photos stored on their Mac, meaning they likely have thousands of duplicates, too!

However, that could lead you problems like accidentally deleting duplicate photos that you may actually need.

Plus, some of these third-party apps claim to be free, but they actually have subscription fees.

Of course, it’s up to you whether or not you choose to use a third-party app to delete duplicate photos from your Mac, but do thorough research before choosing an app to use.

How Often Should I Delete Duplicate Photos On Mac?

Duplicate photos appear on your desktop over time. You should delete duplicate photos as a part of your routine system maintenance to keep your computer operating at its fullest potential.

The frequency that you choose to delete duplicate photos will vary based on your personal usage.

For example, graphic designers, web developers, and photographers may accumulate more duplicates than other users in shorter time frames.

On average, you should expect to need to clean your duplicate photos at least once per year to promote optimal Mac performance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you mass delete duplicate photos on Mac?

There are a few ways to mass delete duplicate photos on Mac. First, you can use the “duplicates” folder in the Photos app to quickly identify, merge, and remove duplicate photos on your computer.

Secondly, you can use Finder to create a SmartFolder, find each duplicate, and send them to the trash. Finally, a few third-party apps remove duplicate photos for you. This option is a bit riskier since you can’t see each of the photos you’re deleting as easily as the other options.

Why should I remove duplicate photos from my Mac?

Photos take up tons of storage on your Mac. They can also build up over time. Before you know it, you could have thousands of duplicate photos taking up unnecessary space in your Mac’s hard drive.

This can severely hinder your Mac’s overall performance, causing apps to load slower and even crash in severe circumstances. It’s relatively quick and easy to remove duplicate photos from your Mac, so you shouldn’t avoid this routine maintenance.

Can iCloud Photos remove duplicates?

Yes! If your iCloud is synced properly, your duplicate photos can be removed. Simply follow the same steps that you would if you were trying to remove duplicates from the Photos app. When those are deleted, they will also be removed from your iCloud storage.

Are there truly free apps to delete duplicate photos on Mac?

Yes; however, these apps are a bit of a risk for users. Sure, they’ll delete all your duplicates without you having to do any work. However, this makes it possible to accidentally delete more photos than you intended to.

The manual work is a bit more time-consuming but overall worth it in the long run. If you must use a free app to delete duplicate photos from your Mac, the free edition of CCleaner works well–at your own risk!

Why are there so many duplicate photos on my Mac?

This modern phenomenon is incredibly common across all devices. Your Mac is often connected to your phone’s camera roll, depending on the Apple ID that you use per each device.

By that logic alone, every duplicate photo you have on your phone would also be taking up storage on your Mac. However, if you do not sync your iPhone camera roll to your Mac, you can still have duplicates of screenshots or other reference images. Some duplicates are intentional, and some are not. You can combat this issue by frequently checking and deleting duplicate photos.

Why aren’t my duplicate photos showing on Mac?

In 2022, many users experienced a bug that prevented the “Duplicates” folder from appearing in the “Photos” sidebar menu. This seems to have cleared after several OS updates, but some users may still be facing the issue.

First, try closing the “Photos” app completely. Reboot it, and see if the folder appears. If this doesn’t work, restart your Mac. Finally, if all else fails, go to your Systems Settings. Then, find your “Software Updates.” If your Mac suggests a new software update, download it. This should completely remove the problem since it was seemingly attached to older OS versions.

What is the best duplicate photo remover on Mac?

The best methods to delete duplicate photos on Mac already exist on your computer. You can either use Finder or the Photos app to quickly and easily remove duplicates. Otherwise, third-party apps remove these photos for you. However, most of these cost money via one-time fees or subscriptions; some may come with hidden costs.

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