How to find and delete duplicate photos in iPhoto

By , Aug 18, 2014

Mac OS X Tips

Duplicate photos always seem to find a way to creep into your iPhoto library, eating up precious storage space on your Mac. You could just let it go and forget all about it – after all it’s just a few duplicate photos – but if you’re anything like me, you just want your iPhoto library to be perfect.

The only way to get to perfection is to delete those duplicate photos in your iPhoto library. Strangely enough, iPhoto doesn’t have a feature that lets you find and delete duplicates, so you have to download a third party application to do this. The Mac App Store has plenty of such apps available, but I personally use Duplicate Cleaner for iPhoto.

In this post, I will show you how to use Duplicate Cleaner to find and delete duplicate photos in iPhoto.

How to remove duplicates pictures in iPhoto

Step 1: Download Duplicate Cleaner for iPhoto from the Mac App Store (currently free).

Step 2: Launch iPhoto first. If you have Photostream enabled, go to iPhoto > Preferences > iCloud, and make sure My Photo Stream is unchecked. Once this is done, launch Duplicate Cleaner.

Step 3: In Duplicate Finder, click Scan iPhoto Duplicates.

scan iPhoto duplicates

Step 4: A pop up will appear on your screen prompting you to click Next and select iPhoto Library to begin scanning.

select iPhoto library

Step 5: As prompted, select the iPhoto Library, then click on Select Library to Scan Duplicates.

select library to scan duplicates

Step 6: Duplicate Finder will now be scanning your library for duplicates. Depending on the size of your iPhoto library, this could take a few minutes.

finding duplicates in iPhoto library

Step 7: Once done, Duplicate Cleaner will confirm how many duplicates it has found and how much storage is estimated to be saved if you delete these duplicates. As you can see below, the app found 304 duplicates amounting for about 4 GB of storage space.

Total duplicates found

Step 8: On the left hand side, you’ll see a list of duplicates. Each duplicate is put in a group, and for each group, Duplicate Cleaner selects one photo that it will be deleting. At that point, you can click on “Move to iPhoto Trash” if you trust the app did a good job. Or else, you can double check or change which of the duplicates to delete. In this example, I want to delete the first photo of each group. To do so, click on the menu button, as seen below.

select duplicate

Step 9: In this case, I will select all photos, except that last one in each group. Again, you are also free to manually select each photo you want to save in each group, but it can be a bit tedious if you have hundreds of duplicates to check.

select duplicate photos

Step 10: Once you’re confident either the app or you have selected the right duplicate photos to remove, click on “Move to iPhoto Trash,” then confirm. All the duplicates will then be sent to the iPhoto trash. Once again, depending on how many pictures are being moved to the trash, it might take a few minutes to complete.

move duplicates to iphoto trash

Step 11: All your duplicate photos are now in the iPhoto trash, which means they are still taking up space on your Mac. You can either leave them in the trash for a while, or you can empty the trash, which will delete these photos forever and free up storage space on your Mac. To empty the iPhoto trash, click on the Trash icon in the sidebar of iPhoto and click on “Empty Trash” in the upper right corner, then click OK to confirm. It might take a few minutes to empty the trash if you have many items in there.

emptying iPhoto trash

If you’re into photography and use iPhoto a lot, I suggest you perform a find and delete of duplicates on a regular basis. Not only will it clean up your library, but it will also save space on your computer.

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  • Chang in Charge

    What do you use iPhoto for? I have never really found a good reason to incorporate it into my workflow. I’ve wanted to have a physical backup somewhere for awhile but the digital options are so much easier. I’m currently using iCloud, Flickr, Shutter by Stream Nation, and Google+ to backup photos from my iPhone. How many ways are you backing up your photos? I’m totally paranoid about loosing photos.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      I use iPhoto to backup all my photos, which are automatically backed up using time machine. I guess I should really look into using Flickr to back them up online too

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        Flickr is great. Download the app on your iOS devices and it’ll automatically back them up…

      • http://lois-bryan.artistwebsites.com/ Lois Bryan

        if you use Flickr, make sure you set everything to private. Lots of sticky fingers combing through that site.

      • Chang in Charge

        Flickr doesn’t work seamlessly for me but you guys reviewed an app Shutter by Stream Nation not to long ago and that works perfectly for me. Unlimited storage for mobile backups and the sync feature is as smooth as Dropbox. Flickr sync doesn’t work perfectly for me I had to use IFTTT to push all the photos to the site.

      • PicBackMan

        Flikr is one of the best backup service available to us. If we compare it with others on the basis of cost & storage space, its the best. 1TB for Free. No other service offers you that.

  • James Gunaca

    How does this work if we use Aperture for our primary photo workflow but Aperture/iPhoto libraries our now unified? Does the app work when selecting an Aperture library?

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      I wouldn’t know as I don’t use Aperture. I don’t believe this app would work with Aperture

      • James Gunaca

        Bummer, thanks though. I’ll give it a go.

  • BoardDWorld

    The app called PhotoSweeper that you guys reviewed some time ago is so much better than this. This app is no better than Gemini the duplicate finder which does every file on your system if you want.

  • http://www.wordsmasters.com/ Liz Donovan

    May I add that for those who don’t like Duplicate Cleaner for iPhoto for some reason, there’s also Duplicate Photo Cleaner (an image similarity finder that works with iPhoto and places duplicates into Trash) and PhotoSweeper.

  • Camui

    Thank you for the wonderful tip, Sébastien!! I was able to free up a GB of space because of this article.

  • Ruby Alvarez

    THANK YOU!

  • Russell C Stephens

    OMG! I almost deleted all half my wedding photo’s with this app, please be careful. It’s far from accurate and don’t trust it.