Duplicated music files in iTunes can be a real pain, but never fear as Macworld UK is here! Here you'll find our foolproof guide to remove duplicate iTunes songs and keeps your iTunes library fresh and clean.

We think iTunes is a fantastic music manager, and it has become much faster, cleaner and more interesting to use in recent years. However, one problem persists, that of duplicated audio files. Sometimes iTunes get multiple copies of the same song, or even two copies of the whole album. Duplicated files in iTunes are annoying because they waste space, make searching more complicated, and sometimes you end up playing the same song repeatedly. In this feature, we look at how to get rid of duplicate files in iTunes.

For more general advice, take a look at How to find and delete duplicate files on Mac.

How to find and remove duplicates on iTunes

The new version of iTunes makes it harder to find duplicate files in iTunes, as it was previously found under View > Show Duplicates. Here are the steps to finding and removing duplicate files in iTunes 12:

  1. Open the iTunes app.
  2. Click on File > My Library > Show Duplicates.
  3. Click on 'All' to view the duplicate track listing, click 'Same Album' to show duplicated songs from a specific album.
  4. It is a good idea to arrange the iTunes music columns so you can view Name, Artist and Album By Artist. You can ensure that these columns are displayed by holding down the Control key and clicking on the columns. Ensure that Album and Artist have a tick next to them (Name constantly appears in iTunes).
  5. Click on the Name column in iTunes: this ensures that view duplicate files next to each other.

The iTunes display will now only show duplicated tracks. It uses matches based on the same Song and Artist, although you see multiple versions of the same song from different albums. So if you have a studio and a live version of the track you may end up looking at different versions of the same song.

Go through the tracks and remove and duplicates that you do not want. Highlight the unwanted file, press Delete on the keyboard (or choose Edit > Delete) and select Move To Trash. If you choose Keep File, it is removed from iTunes, but the file remains on your hard drive. The Keep File option cleans up iTunes but doesn’t free up any space on the Mac.

When you have finished click Done in the top right-hand corner to return to your normal iTunes view mode. You will now see your entire iTunes library (hopefully) free from duplicated tracks.

How to find and remove duplicates on iTunes: How to prevent iTunes 12 from importing duplicated music

iTunes no longer imports duplicate files if you drag and drop audio files to the iTunes library (you can force it to add the duplicate file by holding down the Option key while dragging the file). So you should no longer need to adjust anything.

However, it is a good idea to double check that iTunes is managing your music files correctly.

  1. Click on iTunes > Preferences.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Ensure that the Keep iTunes Media folder organized box had a tick in it.
  4. Ensure that the Copy files to iTunes Media Folder when adding to Library has a tick in it.
  5. Click Reset all dialog warnings.
  6. Click OK.

iTunes should now be set up to keep your music folder organised.