Step-by-step: Get rid of duplicate files

31 December, 2012 by Macworld Australia Staff
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It’s all too easy to accumulate virtual piles of duplicate files on your Mac – most of the time you won’t even know you’re doing it – but it’s really tedious to try to clean them up yourself.

What you need is a duplicate finder: A piece of software that performs a search-and-destroy mission for you. The best we’ve used is MacPaw’s Gemini ($10.49 on the Mac App Store). It’s a small, 12.2MB application that uses a simple, nicely designed interface that any Mac user will feel comfortable with, unlike many competing apps which look and act like they were made on the cheap or require an IT degree.

But while Gemini looks simple, it’s also powerful so, as with any utilities that mess with your files or your system, back up everything before you start.

1. Find folders to scan

You start by browsing to the folder you want to scan, or by dragging- and-dropping it into the circle in the middle of the screen. You can even scan entire internal or external drives, if you want – and certain folders, files or extensions can be excluded by delving into Gemini’s Preferences. Clicking the Scan button begins the very fast identification process.

2. That’s progress

The grey circle turns to a blue progress indicator as Gemini prepares your files. The window also displays little homilies like “How ‘bout a hot cup of virtual coffee?” to entertain you while you wait. When the scan is finished, the circle turns green and Gemini will tell you how much space you stand to regain. In the case of our four-month-old Home folder, it was already 1.97GB.

3. Which one do you want?

Identifying the files to remove one-by-one can get tedious, but you can also get Gemini to auto-select them. Make sure you check which files it’s identified as duplicates – you wouldn’t want to kill the wrong ones. You can do this here, or at the next step, just before ‘shredding’ them. Gemini does make sure that one instance of every file is kept safe.

4. Shredding time

Gemini then ‘shreds’ the files, showing a useless-but-pleasing animation showing the file list being shredded. The files aren’t deleted completely but instead placed in the Trash. This can be changed in the Preferences. Gemini doesn’t get rid of any folders it empties of duplicates – you need to do this yourself.

@dave_bullard

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