The longer you use your iTunes library the better the chance you’ll have some duplicate tracks hiding on your drive. Whether you added a Greatest Hits album and you already had half the songs, or if you just ripped a few CDs that you forgot you already had; duplicate tracks aren’t any fun and worst of all, they waste valuable disk space. It’s actually pretty easy to remove duplicate tracks in iTunes if you know where to look and lucky for you, we do. Here’s how to remove duplicate tracks in iTunes.
Show Exact Duplicates
The first place to start with hunting down duplicate tracks is actually the most hidden. If you click on the View menu in iTunes you should see a menu item called Show Duplicate Items. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and this will change over to Show Exact Duplicate Items. The difference is pretty simple. The first option will show any song that has the same title while the second only shows exact duplicates by checking album title, too. For example, in my library I have over 1,900 duplicates, but only 16 exact duplicates. Live versions, extended clips, and instrumentals will all show as duplicates but will be missing from the exact list. This is why you should start with Exact Duplicates first. Clear these out before moving on to the next step.
Once you have the exact duplicates taken care of, it’s time to look at the regular duplicate items. To view these, just click the All button at the top of the iTunes window if you’re still viewing Exact Duplicates. If not, click the View menu > Show Duplicate Items. As you can see, this definitely shows a lot more files. Duplicates are sorted by name so duplicate tracks show up alongside each other. Now starts the fun part of going through the list line by line. Many duplicates will not really be duplicates, which can be a pain, but once you clear the junk out it’ll be worth it. Now that you’ve found your duplicates, it’s time to delete them.
If you’re like me and use iTunes Match, deleting duplicates has one additional step. When you delete a track that’s in iTunes Match you’ll get this warning: To get rid of the track for good, make sure to check the Also delete this song from iCloud box. This makes sure the duplicate is gone forever. If you don’t remove it from iCloud you’ll still see the track listed everywhere, it’ll just not be taking up space on your Mac. Once you click Delete Song, or if you don’t have iTunes Match, you’ll get this warning: Click Move to Trash and the file will be gone for good once you empty the Trash. If you click Keep File, the track will disappear from iTunes but will still reside on your drive.
There are a lot of software packages out there that promise to remove iTunes duplicates, but with a little work on your part you can clear these away yourself. Best of all, you know for sure what is getting deleted and what isn’t. Have a favorite way to remove duplicate tracks in iTunes? Leave it in the comments below.