Dealing with iTunes dupes

It’s the day I clean my office. (I make it a point to do it once a year, whether it needs it or not.) And as my Mac gets as cluttered as the floor around it, I often take the opportunity to also do a little computer cleaning in between shoveling a year’s worth of detritus into the dumpster brought in specially for these occasions.

Because I tend to pitch a lot of music on and off my Mac and, in the process, fill one drive and then shift my iTunes library to a higher-capacity drive, that self-same library can get pretty messy. One symptom of that messiness is the number of duplicate tracks it accumulates.

In simpler times I’d launch iTunes, select the Music entry in its Source list, choose View -> Show Duplicates, and weed through duplicates that weren’t exactly duplicates — tracks that were marked as duplicates even though one was a live version of a track and another was the studio take. But my music library has swelled to the point where I just don’t have the patience for a tool that filters this broadly.

Instead, I now turn to Doug Adams’ $15 Dupin. (Yes, this is the same Doug Adams of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes fame.) This is a Macintosh Universal application that searches through your iTunes library (or categories or playlists within that library) looking for duplicate files. Unlike iTunes’ Show Duplicates command, Dupin allows you to configure how duplicates are identified. You can include Name, Artist, Album, Time, Size, Sample Rate, Bit Rate, and Kind. So, for example, because the live and studio versions of a song are likely to have different times and sizes, simply enabling one of these criterion eliminates them as duplicate suspects.


Dupin's filter window.

Once Dupin has found the duplicate files, you can then choose which to remove from the library via a Filter window. You can choose, for example, to remove duplicates that were added least recently, or played less often, or with the highest or lowest bit rate. And you can tell Dupin to always keep files encoded in a certain format — AIFF or Apple Lossless, for example, if you want to hang on to the versions with the best audio quality. When you configure these options and then click the Filter button, Dupin will, by default, place a check mark next to the files it will keep. Choose File -> Purge and those tracks that lack the check mark will be removed. (You’re offered the option to remove the tracks from the library but keep them on your hard drive or move them to the trash.)

The purging process isn’t speedy. On my Mac Pro Dupin removed a track about every two seconds. But it doesn’t slow down your Mac’s other operations while removing tracks so it’s hardly a bother working in other applications while Dupin goes about its business in the background.

If, like me, your iTunes library is an unholy mess, I’d suggest you give it a spin. The free demo will display only 20 duplication groups (40 tracks), but is otherwise fully functional.

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