How to Find and Delete Duplicate Files on Your Mac to Free Up Disk Space

By Bastien, on August 7, 2023 - 3 min read

The issue of duplicate files on MacOS can be annoying. Sometimes, these files consume huge disk space you’d have used for other purposes. They can also clutter your backups, making backing up your files take longer. Thus, taking time to find and delete any useless files on your Mac makes sense.

However, the challenge for many people is how to go about it when there are thousands of files on their disks. Sifting through such huge chunks to find duplicate files is daunting. But then, using third-party software and other solutions can help simplify it. This post will explore how you can do this effortlessly.

Let’s get started with it.

What causes duplicate files on your Mac?

If you’re reading this, duplicate files irritate you already. To avoid being in such a situation again, you must know what causes these files.

Here are some causes:

  • Making a copy after editing an image—usually, the original file remains after editing an image or any other file. Failure to delete such files will cause them to build up and consume disk space.
  • Mistaken multiple downloads—you might download a file twice without noticing it. Duplicate files are usually marked by “(1)”, but this sometimes goes unnoticed.
  • Transferring files—you might transfer files to another location or external device but fail to delete the original ones.

Previewing e-mail attachments—previewing an attachment on your e-mail sometimes triggers a download in the background. If you don’t notice it, you could download a duplicate copy.

As you see, it is possible to create duplicate files unknowingly. So, don’t focus much on how you got these files. Instead, find and remove them to make more disk space available on your Mac.

Why finding and deleting duplicate files on your Mac is vital

There’s one more thing before we delve into how to free up disk space on Mac. Why should you delete duplicate files? Here are three significant reasons:

  • To free up space for new files
  • To reduce computer lags due to low storage space
  • To simplify file management on your Mac.

How can you find and delete duplicate files on your Mac?

You must find duplicate files before starting to delete them, but finding them manually can be a tall order if there’re thousands of files. This is why you should consider other faster and more effective ways of finding and deleting duplicate files on your Mac.

We would recommend five main options for finding and deleting duplicate files on Mac. They include;

1.   Using the Mac terminal

This is an excellent way to find duplicate files on Mac. It can be effective, but it can miss some duplicates. But then, learning how to use it will still help.

Here’s what to do:

  • Launch Mac Terminal
  • Type in the name of the folder you want to scan
  •  Once you’re in the folder, type this command find ./ -type f -exec md5 {}; | awk -F ‘=’ ‘{print $2 “t” $1}’ | sort | tee duplicates.txt
  • A file with duplicates in that folder will be created and placed where the initial folder is located.

2.   Using smart folders

You can also use smart folders to almost effortlessly find duplicate files.

Follow these steps:

  • Open the downloads folder, and on Finder active, click file then smart folder to create a new folder
  • A new Finder window will pop up; on it, click the “+” button
  • Leave Kind as it is, and below it, indicate what you’re searching for. It could be images, documents, etc.
  • Your Mac will scan the folders and display duplicate images or files.

3.   Using the photos app

This is a much more consuming option since it involves manually finding duplicate photos on your Mac.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start the Photos app on your Mac
  • Click library on the photos tab to view your images
  • Duplicates will display under their originals
  • Hold the command button and select the unwanted duplicates
  • Then click on the delete button on your keyboard to remove them.

4.   Using apple mail downloads

If you use Apple Mail, you use it to find and remove duplicates that could consume your space.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Open Finder and click the Go tab
  • Hold the option key to open your library folder, then look for mail within the folder
  • Look at the attachments in the folder and delete the unwanted ones.

All these alternatives can help you eliminate duplicate files, but you can choose what best suits your needs. Also, you can switch to another method if the one you’re using doesn’t work effectively.


Duplicate files on Mac should be easy to deal with in these modern times. You now know how to find and remove them quickly. A reliable software tool will save you time and simplify the process and also ensure no duplicate file escapes your eye like it happens when looking them up manually.

Besides, most duplicate finder tools available online are safe and reliable. However, you must research and ensure you use a genuine tool. The key takeaway is that multiple ways of finding and removing duplicate files exist. Getting rid of them and enjoying clutter-free disk spaces is now easier.