Recently I moved my Photos Library from an external HD back into my main HD. It has been my experience, when I do that I end up with some duplicate photos. This time was not different, there were quite a few duplicate photos in there. There are Apps that remove duplicates from the Photos Library.

Removing Duplicate Photos

I have several Apps designed specifically for duplicate photo removal in Photos, iPhoto, Aperture and even Adobe Lightroom. When I got my Photos Library back over onto my main iMac HD, I decided to remove the duplicate photos. I used one of the Apps and it did remove some duplicates, but not all of them. I used another App and it found and removed a few other duplicates. They worked OK, but I was a little disappointed in the efficiency of these Apps. So, I went looking for another duplicate removal App.

I did some research online and discovered an App called PhotoSweeper from Overmacs Software. It got good reviews so I bought it from the App Store for $9.99. After using it for a while I really like it. This is a very sophisticated App. I am going to cover a few of the basic functions.

The Main Window

When you open the App you get this selection window:

You can chose how to view the photos or restore from a previous session. I chose “Single List Mode” and got this main working window:

You can either drag a photos folder into the window or click on the “Add Folder” button in the bottom of the window to add your photos. In my case I navigated to the “Pictures” folder and selected my Photos Library.

When you do that the photos are loaded into the App:

If you have a large Photo Library like I do, this loading process can take a few minutes.

Working With Duplicates

Once the photos are loaded just click on the “Compare” button and you will get this drop down window:

PhotoSweeper has three methods of removing photos, Duplicates, Similar Photos and Series of Shots. I started with Duplicates and just clicked on the “Start” button. You will get a progress bar. When the App has scanned all your photos you get this message:

The App is asking you to mark certain photos for removal based on certain criteria that you already setup in the Preferences Section. I will get to Preferences in a followup article. In my case I wanted to go through the photos manually so I clicked on “Don’t Mark” and was taken to the comparison window:

There are three things I want to point out in this window. The main area showing the duplicates is where you click on a photo to remove it. It is not removed right away, it is just selected. You can compare the photos here, which one looks better, whatever. The top of the window shows information on the photos, their size, and so on. When you are finished comparing (the list of duplicates is in the left sidebar) you click on the “Trash Marked” button, bottom-left corner of the window. The App asks if you really want to move those photos to the Trash, click yes and the photos are moved to an Album that is created in the Albums area of the Photos App:

PhotoSweeper puts the duplicates in this folder. Now, you have to Select All of these photos and Delete them. They will eventually be deleted from the Photos App or you can delete them manually.

Similar Photos

The next method of removing photos is the “Similar Photos” command. When you click on it you get this menu:

Why would you use this? Well, lets say you take several photos back to back of the same subject. When you get to them in the Photos App you have some photos that are very similar. You may decide to delete one or two of them. So, PhotoSweeper picks them out for you.

However, here is another scenario that is helpful to me. At times when I am taking photos with my Panasonic DSLR I use the “speed” setting that takes several photos back to back. I end up with several photos of a certain scene, albeit with slight differences. This “Similar” feature in PhotoSweeper is very handy for picking out these photos (especially if you set the “Time Gap” to a few seconds. Quite often you will not need to keep all of these photos and can save some space by deleting them (in my case about 23.6 MB per photo).

When you use the “Similar Photos” feature it presents photos in this manner:

The Similar Photos and Duplicates feature enabled me to remove several Gigabytes from my large Photos Library which is helpful.

By the way, PhotoSweeper works with just about any type of photo (jpeg, png, etc.) including RAW format. It is very forgiving in this area.


I hope you can see the PhotoSweeper App is quite sophisticated. It works really well, I highly recommend it. It is not expensive at $9.99, well worth the price. I want to cover more features of PhotoSweeper including it’s Preferences in a followup article.