How to Remove Duplicate Songs from iTunes

Have you ended up with duplicate songs in iTunes that you want to remove? iTunes has a built-in “Display Duplicate” feature which can be helpful, but I prefer to use the slightly hidden “Display Exact Duplicates” feature instead. How’s are instructions on its use:

  • Open iTunes.
  • Hold down the Option key, then click on the View menu and select “Display Exact Duplicates”. (If you don’t hold down the option key you’ll instead see “Display Duplicates.”)
  • iTunes will do a search and do its best to display pairs of songs which are exact duplicates of each other. This feature doesn’t work perfectly but it’s pretty good.
  • Then to actually get rid of the duplicates you can hold down the Command key (aka Apple key) and click on each of the songs that you want to delete.
  • Finally, press the Delete key.
  • You’ll be asked if you really want to remove the song. Click the Remove button.
  • Finally, you’ll be asked if your want to move the song file to Trash or keep it in the iTunes Media folder. You could do either but to really get rid of the file you should put it in the Trash.

Note: There is a reason why I don’t like to use  iTunes’ built-in “Display Duplicates” feature. In a nutshell, it doesn’t seem to be very effective. I think it only compares the song’s Name and Artist. There are times when one might want two copies of the same song by the same artist. For example, one might have two versions of the same song — one from the original album release and a second version from a live concert album or a greatest hits album.

If you find that iTunes’ “Display Exact Duplicates” is not adequate for your needs then I’ll direct you to two third-party products. Acertant’s Tunes Ranger and SuperSync. I’ve used Tunes Ranger to merge multiple iTunes Libraries while retaining playlists. I haven’t used SuperSync. Both products indicate that they’ll help to identify and remove duplicates.

[Update Sept 2015: Acertant appears to be out of business and Tunes Ranger is no longer available.]

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