As it becomes more common to use a subscription music service like Apple Music or Spotify, song duplicates are less and less of an issue. However, many of us still maintain a music library that consists of content from various sources and still have to wrestle with the issue from time to time. Let’s take a look at a few free options and a couple paid apps that can help…
The quickest way to get an eye on how many duplicate songs you’re dealing with is using a feature built-in to iTunes (we’ll dig into more robust options in a moment). This is a good place to start to determine if using third-party software is worth the time and money (if you already know you have a large amount of duplicates you can skip below). As always, it’s best to have a recent backup of your Mac before making changes and deleting data.
Start by launching iTunes and make sure you’re looking at your Music. If you need to change what content you’re looking at, do so in the top left area of iTunes as pictured below.
Next click File → Library → Show Duplicate Items
Now you’ll see all the duplicates in your library, but make sure to compare song title to album and other track info. You’ll notice you can view by All or Same Album in center of the iTunes window.
In the examples below you’ll notice that 1 shows the same track name and artist found on 4 different albums. Example 2 shows the same name, artist and album, but with different track times. Example 3 shows a true duplicate.
If you find you only have a few duplicates you can select multiple tracks (hold ⌘ command and click to select all the duplicates, and press the delete key or right click and select Delete From Library, confirm by clicking Delete Songs).
The upside to using this option is it’s free and quick, the downside is it’s not a robust tool and not very convenient if you have lots of duplicates. Let’s look at a few other resources (these next options provide system-wide utility rather than just iTunes functionality).
First up is Duplicates Cleaner, a free download with no in-app purchases. This software keeps things simple and features drag and drop functionality to check folders (like your Music folder and others) for duplicates.
Its algorithms make sure the original file is kept and allows you to review and delete files manually if you’d rather not use the automatic feature. Duplicates Cleaner has 4.7/5 stars on a total of 833 reviews (for all versions).
This paid software from MacPaw is a solid choice if you’re up for spending a little money in return for more features and an improved UI. Gemini 2 is $19.99 on the Mac App Store and has 4.6/5 stars with 433 reviews for all versions. You can also download a free trial directly from MacPaw.
Some of the benefits that go above and beyond Duplicates Cleaner include an algorithm that learns as you use it, in-app preview for looking at files including songs and videos, can find exact duplicates as well as similar files, and has a great looking and easy to use interface. You can also check out our full review of Gemini 2.
One last option that provides a great interface like Gemini 2 with even more control (and a higher price) is Tidy Up. For $29.99 this software includes all of the features as the above software and also provides a simple mode and an advanced mode for fine grain control. Tidy Up is billed as “The Duplicate Finder for Experts” by the developer Hyperbolic Software.
From my research this definitely seems to be the most robust option on the market, however many may find it more robust than necessary. You can also do a free trial of Tidy Up before committing to the purchase.
Whether you give a shot to one of the free options or decide to invest in the fuller featured Gemini 2 or Tidy Up, you should be on your way to a cleaner, organized Mac with more free space in no time.
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