Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Duplicate Photos

One of the questions I'm frequently asked is how to find and delete duplicate photos.  Most people are looking for a great program that will automate the process for them.  And while you can by software programs to do the job, I've never trusted them too much.

In the age of digital photography, photos are often irreplaceable and the last thing I want to do is accidentally delete photos I'd like to keep.  For this reason, I always prefer to find and delete duplicate photos manually.

And one of the easiest and quickest ways to do this, is to search your entire hard drive for all photos using the "search" or "find" tool in Windows.  You don't even have to know the name of each photo.  You can tell Windows to search for all JPG or BMP or GIF files on your computer and then sit and wait for the results.

Here's the steps to search for duplicate photos on your computer:
  1. Click the START button on select SEARCH (WinXP)
  2. Click the PICTURES, MUSIC, OR VIDEOS link and then place a check mark in the PICTURES box
  3. Sit and wait for results
  4. View the images in thumbnails so you can see them better.  To do this, click VIEW on the menu and then THUMBNAILS.
  5. Also a good idea to re-arrange the images by name.  To do this, click VIEW on the menu and then ARRANGE ICONS BY, and then NAME.
 Spotting duplicates is fairly easy using this method.  You can delete the duplicates by RIGHT CLICKING on an image and selecting DELETE.

For computers running Windows Vista or 7, follow the steps below to find duplicate photos:
  1.  Click the START button and in the search box below type, *.jpg (and hit enter)
  2. You can change the size of the thumbnails by clicking the "Change Your View" icon on the right side of the window.  Click the down-arrow and select the size of the thumbnail you'd like see.
You can also seaarch *.BMP and *.GIF if you like to find other picture format types. The star (*) tells the computer to search for all images of the specified format (i.e., jpg, bmp, gif, etc).  In other words, it basically tells the computer you don't care what the filename is. 

Note also, that it may be a good idea to check the file sizes before deleting duplicate images. This will help you make sure you delete the smaller image (if one exists) and save the higher resolution image.  You can check file sizes by resting your cursor over the image and reading the information box that pops up. Note that for most users having duplicate images of different file sizes may not be a problem.  But for those of us that do a lot of photo editing, it may be.

Once you go through the steps a few times, you'll find this process really isn't too time consuming.  But the nice thing is that you have total control over which pictures are deleted as opposed to trusting a software program to delete the right photos.