Mastering iTunes: Find and Delete Duplicate Songs On Your Mac [OS X Tips]

iTunes Duplicate Items

One of the changes in iTunes 11, which debuted in November of last year, was the loss of a “find all duplicates” feature that was really handy for finding and deleting duplicate files in our rather voluminous iTunes libraries. Luckily, Apple re-included the feature in the latest version of iTunes 11, version 11.0.1. Here’s where to find it, and how to use it to help yourself clean up that iTunes library.

Make sure you have the latest copy of iTunes, of course–head into Software Update and let it do its thing. UPdate iTUnes to the latest version

Once you have iTunes launched, head up to the View menu and choose “Show Duplicate Items.” The iTunes media window should then update, showing you all the files that are considered duplicates. The list will include all versions of the files that seem to be the same, so be careful you don’t just Select All and Delete.

Which file should you dump? Well, if they’re exact duplicates, it won’t matter. The best way to figure out whether they are, in fact, twinsies, is to use the Information window, which can be brought up with a Command-click on each of the duplicated files, then hitting Command-I on your keyboard. Click over to the Info tab and then use the arrows in the lower left to flip through the info about each file. If you don’t notice any difference in bit rate or encoding, or whatever might change from one file to the next, you have perfect duplicates. Delete either one. If, however, you see that one file is at a lower encoding rate, or is perhaps a lower-quality recording, get rid of that one.

Update: One of our readers points out that there’s another way to make sure the duplicates are exactly the same: hit the Option key when selecting the Show Duplicate Items in the View menu. The option will change to Show Exact Duplicate Items, and you can use that to be super sure you’ve got the same files duplicating up the place. (Thanks, Technochick!)

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  • technochick

    Show Duplicate Items matches by name and artist only. Option click and Show Exact Duplicates gets closer because it includes album info.

  • DinaMoHum

    This screws up albums. You have 3 songs the same and you delete 2 of them only to find out next time you go to play a complete album it is missing some of the songs. Many albums have some songs from another album. iTunes is not smart enough to keep the albums together while only storing 1 copy of the song.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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