Tidy Up 4.1: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Tidy Up Can Help You Clean Up Your Mac’s Storage Space

Tidy Up duplication finding app for Macs
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Tidy Up from Hyperbolic Software is a duplicate file finder for Mac expert users. That last bit is a phrase used by the developer in an attempt to say that Tidy Up is powerful and full-featured. As for it being for expert users, well, it certainly requires a deft hand when it comes to finding and deleting duplicate files, but as long as you don’t get carried away and start deleting every duplicate this app finds, then Tidy Up can put a real dent in your duplicate files, regardless of your level of expertise.

Pro

  • Simple and advanced search modes.
  • Strategy Wizard can guide you to finding duplicates.
  • Smart Boxes to house found duplicate files.
  • Find duplicates by a myriad of criteria.
  • Finds duplicate folders as well as files.
  • Fast; doesn’t need to index a drive before searching.
  • Provides previews of common file types, such as audio, images, and PDFs.

Con

  • Doesn't differentiate between originals and copies.
  • Requires you to individually select each duplicate to be removed.

Tidy Up’s power as a duplicate file finder is very impressive. With storage devices becoming bigger and bigger, the potential for duplicates, and even duplicates of duplicates, being stored on a Mac is now pretty much the norm.

One of the problems many Mac users encounter is what to do when their Mac’s drive begins to fill up. As you know, a full drive leads to very poor Mac performance. But which files should you get rid of? That’s where Tidy Up comes in, by finding all the duplicate files your Mac may contain.

Installing Tidy Up

Tidy Up is another example of easy installation; just drag Tidy Up to your /Applications folder, and you're ready to use the app. Likewise, Tidy Up doesn't seem to create any files outside of its own app bundle, making uninstalling it a simple drag-it-to-the-trash affair.

Using Tidy Up

Tidy Up makes use of smart searches; essentially, a set of criteria used by Tidy Up to search.

Smart searches contain the details of the duplicate files you're looking for; as an example, iTunes music files that use AAC encoding and have the same song name and artist, are from the same album and have the same content.

Besides finding duplicates that match exactly, you can also find similar files that may not be an exact match for all criteria but are otherwise a close match. For example, iTunes songs that match all of the criteria specified, but have different creation dates.

Smart searches are the basis for Tidy Up, but creating and executing smart searches can be time-consuming. To help users along, Tidy Up starts up in a Simple Mode.

Simple Mode

Simple Mode is the default for how Tidy Up is used. In Simple Mode, Tidy Up provides a large set of premade smart searches that can find images, Photos images, Aperture images, iPhoto images, images by EXIF data, music, iTunes music, music by tags, folders, other files and packages, and miscellaneous.

Each premade smart search can be modified to fit your needs, but the premade searches should work pretty well for most users.

Advanced Mode

Advanced Mode puts more power into the user's hands, and allows the creation of custom smart searches.

An example of the additional capabilities can be seen in the Images by EXIF smart search, which allows you to search on a few specific EXIF data types, such as date taken, location, camera, and image type. While in Advanced Mode, you'll find you can dig down through EXIF information to find exact matches.

You can use the Advanced Mode to build up complex smart searches to help find exact duplicates or even very similar items; it all depends on how you set the search up.

Strategy Wizard

The Strategy Wizard is part of the Advanced Mode; through a series of questions, it will help you build a new smart search to use to find duplicates.

Sources

Tidy Up can search any locally attached storage devices, and most network devices, as long as they show up as a mounted disk on your Mac. Not only can a mounted drive be searched, but you can limit searches to specific folders on a mounted device. The more you limit the search location, the faster Tidy Up can find duplicates.

Search Results

Results from a search are displayed in a separate window and place into boxes, which are virtual containers that hold similar items. You can select a box to open it and view its contents.

The box system helps keep a large list of search results from being overwhelming. It lets you focus on checking results by duplicates that are associated with each other.

One thing Tidy Up doesn't do is provide any indication of which item in a group of duplicates is the original. Besides the fact that determining which is the original would be a bit time consuming and fraught with mishaps, Tidy Up would rather leave this task to you. This has the advantage of forcing you to take your time when combing though duplicates to figure out which one to keep and which to toss.

This is markedly different than some similar apps, which offer to remove duplicates for you in one massive undertaking. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn't trust an app to figure out which duplicate I want to keep and which I want to discard. So, I appreciate Tidy Up’s decision to leave this in my hands, even though it means it will take a good deal of time to go through the duplicate list on my own.

Tidy Up does help the process along by providing file viewers for most popular file types. This allows you to preview the files directly in Tidy Up. For files not supported by Tidy Up, there's an option to reveal the duplicate files in the Finder, allowing you to open them for examination with the app that created them.

Final Thoughts

Tidy Up provides a nice mix of features, allowing you to use the Simple Mode for most file searches while having the option to jump into the Advanced Mode when needed. The search results and the use of boxes to store duplicate results in is unusual but workable. I think if I used Tidy Up routinely, the box metaphor would eventually sink in and work out okay for me.

But there’s the rub. I think most of us aren't likely to use Tidy Up except on those rare occasions when our storage space is nearly full. That means that boxes will likely be showing up each time as an "I hope I remember how to work with these things" moment.

Tidy Up needs a simple results window, just like it has a Simple Mode. Sometimes, I just want to see exact and similar results grouped together in a list, boxes or no boxes.

Aside from boxes, which are certainly usable, I found Tidy Up did a great job of finding duplicates, as well as similar items, and really, that’s the reason for using this app.

Tidy Up is $29.99. A demo is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.