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Finding duplicate files on your Mac

Posted by Lou TarDisk on 2017-04-09

Duplicate files - can't live with them, really want to live without them. Who doesn't want to get rid of useless files that serve only one purpose: clog up the HD? But then again, who wants to spend hours trolling through their HD to find the damn things? It's time-consuming. It's frustrating. It's often fruitless.

Luckily, you don't have to find duplicate files manually. Below are two methods you can use to find those pesky duplicate files and permanently delete them from your HD.

Find a Duplicate with Finder

There's actually an easy trick to find duplicates only using the "Finder" function on your Mac.

  1. Open a new Finder window;
  2. Type the asterisk symbol (*) into the search box;
  3. Be sure that columns "size" and "kind" are displayed;
  4. Using the "kind" column, filter the results for "similar items".

This method will you byte-level copies, so there's plenty of information for you to double check all the "similar items" and to decide if they're duplicates that you want to delete.

Find a Duplicate with the Terminal

I'd caution against using this method if you don't really know your way around Macs. Otherwise, a single wrong inputted command could really mess things up. Always be careful about what you're typing into the Terminal command line! But if you're willing to live on the wild side, here's how to find duplicates with the Terminal:

  1. Type Utilities into the Spotlight search bar;
  2. On the menu bar on top open Terminal;
  3. Navigate through the folder you want to scan for duplicates using the command "cd". For example, if you want to scan pictures, type in cd~/pictures and hit enter.
  4. Copy and paste the following command: find . -size 20 \! -type d -exec cksum {} \; | sort | tee /tmp/f.tmp | cut -f 1,2 -d ‘ ‘ | uniq -d | grep -hif – /tmp/f.tmp > duplicates.txt

Double check that command twice - it's long and could be a bit complicated.

Executing the command will create a text file in the specified folder itemizing all the duplicates. But please note, Terminal can overlook a lot of duplicates. Also, you'll still have to go through all the files to separate copies from originals. So you're still kind of doing a lot of work by hand - but it does help!

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