Delete Duplicate Songs in iTunes for iPhone & iPod

Clean up your iTunes library by deleting duplicates

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When you have an extensive iTunes library, it can be easy to end up with duplicate copies of the same song accidentally. It can also be challenging to find those duplicates. This is especially true if you have multiple versions of a song, such as one from a CD and another from a live concert. Fortunately, iTunes has a built-in feature that identifies duplicates.

Information in this article applies to computers running iTunes 12.

How to Delete Duplicates on iPhone and iPod

There's no feature built into the iPhone or iPod that you can use to identify and delete duplicate songs. Instead, you have to locate and delete duplicates in iTunes on a computer and then sync the changes to your mobile device.

View and Delete iTunes Duplicates

The View Duplicates feature of iTunes shows all of your songs that have the same song name and artist name. Here's how to use it:

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.

  2. Select File in the iTunes menu bar and choose Library in the drop-down menu.

    ITunes Library options for locating duplicates
  3. Select Show Duplicate Items in the Library options.

  4. iTunes shows a list of the songs it thinks are duplicates. The default view is All. You can also view the list grouped by album by clicking the Same Album button beneath the playback window at the top.

    Album view of duplicates in iTunes

    The songs can be sorted by clicking the top of each column to view by Name, Artist, Date Added, and other parameters.

  5. To delete a song from iTunes, right-click the song and choose Delete from Library or tap the Delete key on your keyboard.

    Removing a duplicate from iTunes
  6. When you're finished, click Done in the top right corner to return to the iTunes normal view.

If you remove a duplicate file that's part of a playlist, it is removed from the playlist and isn't replaced by the original file. You need to add the original file to the playlist manually.

Toggle to Display Exact Duplicate Items

Display Duplicates is useful, but it's not always accurate. It only matches songs based on their name and artist, which means it may show songs that are similar but not identical. If an artist releases an acoustical version of one of his non-acoustical hits, for example, Display Duplicates thinks the songs are the same even though they're not, and you'll probably want to keep both versions.

In this case, you need a more accurate way to view duplicates. You need Display Exact Duplicate Items, which displays a list of songs that have the same song name, artist, and album. Since it's unlikely that more than one song on the same album has the same name, you can feel confident that these are true duplicates. Use the same File > Library path but this time hold down the Option key (on a Mac) or Shift key (on Windows) and select Display Exact Duplicate Items.

When Not to Delete Exact Duplicates

Even the songs that Display Exact Duplicate Items displays may be different kinds of files or saved at different quality settings.

For example, two songs might be in different formats intentionally — AAC and FLAC, for example — where you want one for high-quality playback and the other for its small size to use on an iPod or iPhone. Check for differences between the files by right-clicking on the song and review Song Info. From there you can identify the song's file type as well as many other advanced features. With that information, you can decide whether you want to keep both or remove one.

Display of Song Info in iTunes duplicates

Sync iPhone or iPod to iTunes

After you've removed the duplicates in iTunes, sync your iPhone or iPod to iTunes on your computer. An alternative to deleting a song is to configure iTunes not to sync the individual song to your device, instead of deleting it.