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Deleting Duplicate Files with Tidy Up


Recently a civilian asked Murphy about finding duplicate files on their computer.  Folder names had been mangled and made no sense.  Files had been duplicated over and over again, many of them with different names.  It was a mess.

I remembered writing up a Mac app a long time ago and dug deep into the Murphy Mac archives, where I found Tidy Up.  As soon as I watched the screencast I remembered being impressed with the results of the app, and its power, despite not truly having a need for it.  Because Murphy files everything just so.

Anyway, I decided to take a look at some tools for finding duplicates and asked the developer for an updated version, which I received.

One thing that really impresses me about Tidy Up is the safety features designed to prevent deletion of the last copy of a file.   For example, if a search finds six copies of foo.jpg there’s an option to display all but one copy.  Then you can delete the five duplicates from within the Tidy Up interface.

Let’s run through an example and look at one way Tidy Up might help you achieve your goal.   Let’s say you have two folders that both have files.  Some of the files have duplicates with different names.  Sometimes the dupe is in the same folder with the original, sometimes it’s in the other folder.  And sometimes the dupe has the same name but it’s in a different folder.

Take a look at the screenshot showing our example files.


Click image for larger version

The files are in two folders, named here and there.   My goal is to end up with one file for each airport code.   Also, notice there are three files containing the code mia.   Additionally, I’d prefer to end up with the files that don’t have the word “copy” in their name.  Think of it this way:  Maybe you have a bunch of files and you named some of them with a convention like winter2011 001.jpg, winter2011 002.jpg and so forth.  But you have duplicates of those files with names like DSC001.jpg and DSC002.jpg.    You might prefer to have the DSC files eliminated as the duplicates instead of the winter ones.

The first step with Tidy Up is to add the two folders we want to search for duplicates.  In our case, the folders named here and there.   In the screen shot below the folders are shown in Tidy Up after we simply dragged them in from Finder.

The two folders we want to search for duplicates


Once we run the search Tidy Up presents us with a list of files that have duplicates.  There are a number of containers we can choose from to limit which files are displayed, but the default is to show all copies of any file that has a duplicate.   Files without duplicates in here and there are not displayed.  Screen shot below.  Notice that the mia file has three copies, and two of them have the same name.

The full list of duplicates. Each file is color coded red or yellow to indicate its folder location.


Remember, we wanted to preserve files that didn’t have the word copy in the name if possible.  To do this, we’re creating what Tidy Up calls a Smart Basket to identify all the files with the word “copy” in their name.  Then we’ll use Tidy Up’s label feature to mark these files with the blue label.

Take a look at the next screenshot.  Notice the container selected is called “has copy in name”.   That’s our smart basket.  We’ve selected all the items in the basket and applied a blue label to them.

A blue label has been applied to every duplicate file with the word “copy” in it.


We could have just deleted all those files there, but instead we’ll go back to the container called All Items Found and verify that our labels were applied as we expected.  In that container we’ll also sort by label, so all the blue label items are listed first and are easy to select.

The search results have been sorted by label, resulting in all the files with “copy” in the name listed first.  Notice that cdg doesn’t have a file without the word “copy” in it.


One of the great things about about Tidy Up is that it tries to prevent you from accidently deleting the last copy of a file.  In other words, when you’ve performed a search and selected files to delete you may have selected all copies of a particular file, as is the case in the previous screenshot with regard to cdg.   When we use the delete tool within Tidy Up we’ll get notified that one file was not deleted because it was the last copy.  See below.

Tidy Up warns when you’re about to delete the last copy of any of your search results. That’s good.


If we look at our search results now there are only two files left.  Remember, we told it to only delete selected files, and we only selected files with “copy” in the name.  So our mia duplicates still exist.  We could continue on and delete any remaining duplicates from here. Let’s take a look at the Finder to see what we’re left with after running our delete job.   Notice below there’s one file left with the word “copy” in it, but that’s because we only had files for cdg with the word copy in them.   Notice as well that we have two copies of mia.  That’s because we didn’t bring the full power of Tidy Up to bear yet.  More on that after the screenshot.

Our situation has improved. There is still one duplicate to be dealt with. And one file is left with the word “copy” in it. But both of those things were to be expected.


There’s one other feature of Tidy Up I should mention.  Even if you only search one folder there’s a very powerful feature.  Tidy Up has the ability to show all but one file for each set of duplicates it finds.  In the two screenshots below there’s a file in the search results that has nine copies.   When we select All Items Found we see all nine.   But when we select All But One Item of Each Duplicate Group we only see eight.  The ninth is being hidden from view so we can safely delete the eight and still have a copy left.

All duplicates displayed


Only eight files are displayed. The last copy of the duplicate set is automatically not shown so we don’t delete it.


There’s a lot more to Tidy Up.  It has special features for iTunes and iPhoto.  It has all kinds of options for dealing with very granular file details and customizing your search extensively.  There’s no shortage of tools for this task, but Tidy Up makes it very straightforward.   The interface is clean and makes it easy to see where your duplicates reside.

Here’s another Murphy Mac post about Tidy Up, including a screencast.

Tidy Up is available for $30   There’s also a thorough user manual (pdf).







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4 comments to “Deleting Duplicate Files with Tidy Up”

  1. Could you just pop into terminal and use diff?

  2. Hi,

    I have in a MBP TidyUp! 2.0, and it seems tomwork great in El Capitan. I am accustomed to the interface, and i do know where to find the options i need. The Hyperbolik (?) site says i need TidyUp! 4.0 to work with El Capitan, which i want to install in my new Mac Mini. I looked around V4, and apart from the looks, it seems quite the same. Is there any real and relevan difference between the versions 2 and 4?

    Thanks for your thoughts

  3. I use Duplicate Files Deleter to remove all the unwanted, duplicated files from my pc.

  4. ??? ????? ??????? ?? FACEBOOK ??? ????????

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