HOW TO: Remove Duplicates
From Your iTunes Library
Created: 10/19/2004 | Updated: 09/08/2011 | By: Staff | Comments

itunesAs your iTunes Library grows, you will probably lose track of exactly what media you have already imported and eventually you will end up with duplicate songs, book, podcasts and videos. For example, you might accidentally import a CD twice or add files from Limewire or BitTorrent. Or maybe you ripped a lot of stuff off a friend's iPod, iPhone or iPad recently.

iTunes SOngs

Here are a few tips and techniques on how to get rid of duplicate media in your iTunes Library as well as some precautions you should take before deleting duplicate files.



    • any computer with iTunes 4.7 or higher installed (Mac or PC)
    • duplicate songs, books and videos in your iTunes Library



Deleting Duplicate Content - Using iTunes

Whether you've downloaded music, ripped DVDs or imported songs from CDs, you may have a few duplicate files causing clutter in your iTunes collection. Here's how to find and get rid of any duplicate content in your iTunes Library:

  1. Open iTunes

  2. Select "Display Duplicates" or "Show Duplicates" from the either from the File menu (File > Show Duplicates)
    or the Edit (Edit > Show Duplicates) or View menu (View > Show Duplicates). This will vary depending on what version of iTunes you have installed.

    (Edit > Show Duplicate Songs)


  3. Analyze the meta data of your duplicates. You will now see all the media that you have doubles for in your iTunes Library. For example, take a look at the image below. We have two copies of the Alice Cooper song "School's Out ." Should we delete one of them? Not so fast. Take a closer look at the Album column.

    These two tracks may be the same song, but they are from two different albums; the Dazed And Confused movie soundtrack and a compilation called Mullets Rock. Same songs, different albums. If you were in this situation, should you delete one of them? This entirely depends on you. If you are short on hard drive space, then you might want to delete one of the tracks. At the office, we have a 2TB Lacie drive with plenty of hard drive space for our music and will keep both songs. But if you have duplicate songs from the same album, probably delete one of them.

  4. Before deleting a duplicate file, there are several things you should take into consideration.

    • Play each file to make sure they imported properly and sound and look good. You don't want to delete a good version of a song and keep a bad one.

    • View the meta data of your duplicate tracks before deleting them. You can right-click on any song in iTunes or select "Get Info" from the File menu (File > Get Info). You might have two versions of he same file, but are they really the same? Were they imported at the same bit rate? Are they the same file size? Do they both have artwork?

      Here's a good example of why you should check all duplicate tracks before deleting them. Let's say your friend gave you a bunch of songs and you imported all of them into your iTunes Library. You already had a few of the songs they gave you and you ended up with some duplicates which you quickly deleted. Then later, you realize that many of the songs your friend gave you were purchased using their iTunes Music Store account and you can't play them without their iTunes password. But now it's too late. You already deleted your songs and now you have to reimport your CDs and even repurchase some songs from the iTunes Music Store.

    • Consider making a backup of your duplicate iTunes files before deleting them for good (see example above). You can make a new Playlist in iTunes and drag these duplicate songs and videos into this playlist. Then burn them to CD/DVD-ROM in case you need them in the future.

  5. You can now manually delete these songs, but be careful! These duplicates might be from Live albums, soundtracks or even from a "Greatest Hits" CD. Take a look at the image below. I have three copies of the Alice In Chains song "A Little Bitter." Two of them look like they are from the same album. The third track is a remix version of "A Little Bitter" from the Alice In Chains box set.

  6. To "Show All Songs" again you can select "Show All Songs" from the File, Edit or View menu (depends on what version iTunes you are using) or click on the button that says "Show All Songs" at the bottom of your iTunes window (File > Show All Songs).

NERD NOTE: iTunes 4.7 was the first version of the program that allowed users to easily display duplicate tracks in their Libraries. iTunes 4.7 was released on October 27, 2004. [Source: Wikipedia]

Deleting Duplicate Songs - Using VBScript

This next method uses VBScript and will only work for Windows users. If you are unfamiliar with VBScript, it's a coding language that allows you to make your own custom program for your PC. To run the duplicate song killer VBScript below, just follow these steps:

  • vbscriptClick here to open the VBScript in a new browser window.
  • Copy and paste the script into a new Notepad document (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad).
  • Edit line #2 and replace "DaCeige" with your username. DaCeige is the reader who wrote the script.
    • C:\Users\DaCeige\Music\iTunes\iTunes Music
  • Save the Notepad file using a file name like "DupKiller.vbs" Notepad will automatically try to add ".txt" to your text files. You MUST add the file extension ".vbs" to your file.
  • Double click on the file called "DupKiller.vbs" on your desktop. This will make a shortcut to the script.
  • That's it. Just double click on the shortcut for now on to run the script.
  • You may see a warning window from Norton AntiVirus when trying to run this script. Just select the option that allows this script to run. But always be cautious before running a VBScript. Never run a VBScript without inspecting it first. Many times people will try to hide viruses in VBScripts.

Here's the VB script below if you want to inspect or copy it. You can also use the link above to download the script as a text file:


Alternate Ways to Manage Duplicate Songs in iTunes

Several third party software companies and programmers have developed ways to help manage duplicate songs in iTunes. Here is a short list you might find useful:


Final Thoughts

Duplicate media files in your iTunes Library can be a pain in the ass, but they can be taken care of with a little patience and know-how. Whether or not you use iTunes to manage your duplicates or an alternate option, you should always exercise caution before deleting your music. community email
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