Remove iTunes Duplicates

I recently had to reload the Mac. Not from anything that went wrong, it was time. It was running much slower than I like and I just had a lot of crap and garbage that I wanted to get rid of. Formatted the drive, reinstalled Snow Leopard, restored my documents and re-downloaded the apps that I needed.

Once it was done, everything was well and good **except** iTunes. Over the years I have manage to collect some cruft there too. Duplicates and triplicate. Extra songs that I didn’t really want. It was a mess.

You can end up with duplicates files in a few different ways. You can have multiple albums with the same songs on them or you can have multiple copies of the same song. We are going to deal with the last one since that was the main issue that I was having.

A quick search in iTunes will show you your duplicates. But I had over 8,000, so removing them from there was going to be time-consuming. So, a quick search in my music folder was in order, and a rebuilding of my iTunes library.

NOTE Library –> Export Playlist. You will have to do this for each playlist that you want to keep. It also goes without saying that you should already have a backup of your music library. This process involves **deleting** files and if you delete something that you didn’t want to delete, you can’t come crying to me. BACKUP!

Let’s lean out that iTunes library!

  1. Navigate to your music folder and do a search for 1.m. This will give you a list of songs that end with a space and the number one, plus either .mp3 or .m4v.
  2. Check out the list. Make sure that it found files that have a space after the song title, before the 1, like this: songfile 1.mp3 or songfile 1.m4v.
  3. Select all of the duplicates and delete them.
  4. Repeat the search using 2.m and 3.m
  5. Quit iTunes
  6. Navigate to your iTunes folder and delete the file called iTunes Library
  7. Start iTunes, click on File –>Add to Library and navigate to the folder where your freshly pruned music library is

The whole process should take less than an hour and when you are done your iTunes library will be a lean, mean music playing machine!

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. Having to backup my iTunes library before I get rid of my duplicate tracks sounds one of those bulky iTunes operations we as iTunes users are required to live with in order to keep up our libraries.

    Is there a simpler one- or two-step way in order to effectively get rid of iTunes duplicates?

  2. You can do the steps above without a backup.

    I also think there might be an app or two you can buy to do the same thing. I’m a giant cheapskate, so prefer to do things the cheapest way possible.

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