Find duplicate photos: the simplest way to clean up your photo library

When photography was print, it was an expensive hobby or career. A rare few made that leap from taking pictures for fun to making a living from it, which often required talent, a little money, or a lucky first client or two.

It is a lot easier to get into photography these days. Digital tools mean we all have something on us that could take an award-winning photograph, even if you don’t invest in the latest 40 megapixel SLR.

But for those of us who are snapping away on a regular basis, either professionally or for fun and work - such as bloggers, vloggers and even writers — aren't we all content creators in some way?! — we end up with a lot of pictures on our Macs. Whatever Mac you have, they are perfect machines for storing, editing and publishing, which is great, except for the fact they can soon get full to bursting with images.

Let’s face it — sometimes it takes dozens of pictures just to get the perfect one, which is easy and free when using a digital camera. Compared to film, when you had to think about every picture, since every single one cost money. Now you can snap away with abandon, and even if none of them are exactly perfect — not a problem, when you've got Photoshop and other handy tools. Almost anything can be removed, added or tweaked with a few clicks.

We can end up with dozens of duplicates, especially when shooting in raw, and then once you start editing, dozens more could be generated. All of this takes up space, and it can take a lot of time to sort and delete manually, or you can try a few of these shortcuts.

How to delete duplicate photos on a Mac

Every photo is special. Okay, maybe not every single photo — but the ones you want to keep are, whereas the duplicates are just taking up space.

Manual detection and deletion is one approach.

Or you can get Gemini app and let it search, select and then, with your permission, zap the duplicates to free up loads of space on your Mac. 

Here's how to get rid of extra files (both duplicate and similar images) with Gemini:

  1. Open Gemini.
  2. Choose where to scan. This can be a folder or your whole Mac.
  3. Hit Scan.
  4. View the results and choose which duplicates and similars to remove.

When scanning for photos, make sure to scan in the photos library folder, or your documents folder and any attached external hard drives for images, instead of the Photos app. The icons look similar, but you’ll find what you need in those folders since that will also remove any duplicates lingering within the app automatically.

Clean up photo gallery with Gemini

Once that is done, click on Select Duplicates, and Gemini moves them all to the Trash. So don't worry if you’ve accidentally deleted a finished edit instead of another duplicate - you can easily get them back. And then, once you are sure everything in the trash is junk, use CleanMyMac to shred the trash, which is a great way to really save some space. 

Now, a little about the similar files and what they are. Similars are files that have strong resemblance but are a little different: images taken from one angle, dozens of identical selfies, music files with different bitrate etc. Gemini has a smart algorithm that can identify and group them, so you'll only have to click on the ones you'd like to keep. 

Another way to get rid of duplicates is using a duplicate remover in Disk Drill, Mac users favorite, because it's an app primarily designed to recover lost data. However, it has multiple great features apart from its main benefit and one of those is removing duplicates. 

The process is near identical: install and launch Disk Drill, choose directory for scanning, review results and remove duplicated files that were found on your Mac. 

Now that your pictures are organized, you probably want to keep the ones you’ve got tidy and in order. Inboard, also available from Setapp — along with Gemini — is a handy way to manage your entire picture gallery and images workflow, which should save you hours of time in the future.

Here's how to clean up your photo library when the duplicates are gone: 

  1. Open Inboard app.
  2. Drag a photo into the Inboard window, and the app will save the image in your library. 

From then on you can tag photos so that it will be easier to search in the future, make folders in the Inboardapp and place images of a category in the folder, sort by date and title, and lots of other things.

That's about it concerning image organization. Duplicate removal is an extremely efficient technique for freeing up some room on your Mac's hard drive. Plus, it gets a ton easier to work with all your photo library when you only keep the good stuff. All the apps in this article are on Setapp subscription, in a single suite. So go ahead and explore them! Cheers.

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