Don Edrington  PC Columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune  Home Page  Profile

Deleting Duplicate Files

A reader asked if there is a program designed to locate and delete duplicate photos on his computer. Well, I've seen such programs advertised, but have had no personal experience with them. So I developed my own system.

For duplicate JPG photos, I type ".jpg" into my Windows Search Box and press Enter. This will display a list of all my JPGs, whereupon I could simply look for duplicates and remove them with my DEL key.

However, there's an easier way:

Right-click your Desktop and choose New>Folder. Name the folder something like "Duplicate JPGs." Then drag all the JPGs from the Search Results into this folder.

As each JPG enters the folder it will look for files with the same name. If it finds one, a dialog box will appear saying, "This folder already contains a file with this name. Would you like to replace the existing file with this one? Yes or No."

Be aware, however, there could be two entirely different photos with the exact same file name, such as a cropped or resized version of a photo that was then given the same name.

So before clicking YES, check the image's other properties, such as File Size. If the identically-named photos have different file sizes, you should click NO and then rename one of the photos. (Right-click the file name and choose Rename.)

If you don't see other properties listed, get on the Toolbar and click the
Change Your View button (3rd icon from the right end of the Toolbar) and choose Details.
    Also, be aware that answering YES to the "Replace File" question permanently deletes the existing file as the incoming file overwrites it. This is good if you want to acquire additional disk space as you go. If you have doubts, however, a normal Delete moves a file to the Recycle Bin, from which it can be recovered if you later change your mind.
All the above also works to eliminate other types of files, such as duplicate text-editing documents or spreadsheets, etc. For Word docs type in .doc or type .xls for Excel files. Type .mp3 or .wma or .mid for various types of music files.
Type .mpg or .mp4 or .wmv or .avi to search for various video files.

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