How to Get Rid of Duplicates in iTunes

October 11, 2010

If you are one of those people who has thousands of songs in your iTunes library, I’m betting you have tons of duplicates mixed in there that you would like to get rid of. I know I ended up with duplicates after switching from computer to computer and adding back songs from multiple sources. I’m not even sure how it happened, but I have hundreds of duplicates now, and I wanted to know how to get rid of duplicates in iTunes easily.

Admittedly, I first thought I was going to have to go through all my songs manually, and I even started going through them and deleting duplicates one by one. I made it through a couple hundred songs before I realized the task would take me days to complete. Then I started searching for an easier way, because I just do not have that kind of time to devote to the project.

First, I found instructions that showed me how to get rid of duplicates in iTunes more easily. It is really simple. All you have to do is go to file and select display duplicates. This shows you all the songs you have that match based on the artist and song title. If you know that you have different versions of the same song, such as live versions of different versions of from another album, you can do it a little differently to show exact duplicates.

To show exact duplicates, hold down the Alt or Option key in Mac, or Shift key in windows, while you go to the file menu. This time, the “display duplicates” option will say “display exact duplicates.” When you select this option, the duplicates shown will be everything with the same artist, song name, and album. This gives you a more precise list of your duplicate songs.

The next step is to click on the “date added” column to sort your duplicates by the date they were added to your iTunes library. Then you can go and delete the songs that were added first or second, depending on which one you want to keep. This is particularly useful if you added your music from another computer or hard drive twice by accident. In that case, you could probably just select all of the songs added on a certain date delete them all together by selecting them while holding down the shift key.

The instructions outlined above will work well if you do not have a huge iTunes library. In my case, I have thousands of songs, so the list of duplicates was still too big to go through manually. Of course, I could have done it, but I just did not want to. Sitting at my computer staring at the list of songs and selecting and deleting over and over is just not my idea of fun.

So my next search was for a program that would delete duplicates in iTunes library automatically. I found Rinse (formerly TidySongs), which not only gets rid of duplicates automatically, but also corrects misspellings, adds missing artist, years, and genres, and adds in album artwork. I was really only looking for how to get rid of duplicates in iTunes automatically, but all the other stuff ended up being a nice bonus.

Rinse did exactly what I wanted, and now my iTunes library is a lot, well, tidier. You can give it a try yourself for free. There is a free trial, and if you like it, you can upgrade to the full version.

Rinse Free Trial

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