With the amount of images we capture on many devices and at different time periods, it’s easy to collect duplicates that make search results worse in Photos and take up storage space. For example, my library contains nearly 50,000 images and goes back more than 30 years, to the early 1990s, when I started taking digital photos and scanning analog ones.
Apple has largely avoided that problem until the latest operating system releases. This could be because it didn’t want to to advise delete images – maybe the company’s software would be wrong! But in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16, Apple finally took the plunge by adding the Duplicates album. It relies on machine learning to match images that are almost certain to be duplicates in your Photos library. You have to watch all the matches to clear them, so you’re still in the captain’s seat. (The feature also matches videos, but didn’t find any in my collection, possibly because it uses more precise matches.)
If you don’t see a Duplicates album under the Photos section in macOS or Utilities in iOS/iPadOS, you may need to wait longer for your devices to process your library and find duplicates. This can take several hours to days after you update, depending on the processing power of your hardware and the number of images you have in your Photos (or iCloud Photos) library.
When you select the Duplicates album, you’ll see a list of entries by date with two or more images side by side that Photos thinks are actually the same. All versions of Photos overlap the size of the image at the top.
For more details, such as metadata, you have to dig deeper:
- In iOS/iPadOS, tap the image and swipe up to see the metadata. You can then swipe left and right to compare the image and metadata for suspicious duplicates.
- Bring forward in macOS Window > About and successively select images to view their attributes in the Info palette.
In some cases, in addition to a higher-resolution version or with more embedded data, you may have a low-resolution version or a metadata scrub of an image. For example, if you post a photo through Instagram in iOS, Instagram will create a lower-resolution copy that removes most of the metadata. That reformulated image appears identical and Photos marks such images as duplicates.
In other cases it can be more subtle: the location is missing in one image but present in the other, or they are identical except that one is slightly downsampled. I found that a sequence of photos taken in raw mode on a standalone camera was marked as duplicates by Photos: the sequence was so fast that the four images, with different names, were taken within the same second and were nearly identical. poses between the subjects.
If you’re sure the two or more images are duplicates, tap To merge or click Merge X Items. Apple issues a warning explaining that it will keep the image with the most resolution and detail and move the other image or images to Recently Deleted. Apple doesn’t do that though identify which image in the set it will keep or merge data into. Click or tap Merge X Items to complete the operation.
However, don’t click or tap Merge to be sure of a choice. Rather choose the image you want to delete and choose Image > Delete 1 photo or tap it and tap the trash can item. You can’t merge metadata this way – that would require third-party software – but you can make a choice.
For more control over deduplication, including matching settings options and more side-by-side visibility in metadata, download PowerPhotos 2 for macOS from Fat Cat Software, which supports both locally stored Photos libraries on a Mac and optimized iCloud as of this release. – photo libraries.