How to clean up duplicate files in your Dropbox

Has an urgent need for Dropbox space ever made you choose between deleting holiday snaps and a work document that you’re almost certain you have backed up on your device? Do you find that you have to unnecessarily move files back and forth between your Dropbox and your device because of storage space constraints? Or have you ever been unsure as to whether your most recent important files have been uploaded to your Dropbox – you’ve meant to check, but you just can’t seem to find the time to painstakingly compare your hard drive and cloud storage.

Will Dropbox upload duplicate files?

If you try to upload a duplicate file to Dropbox, you’ll get a popup letting you know you’re about to upload an identical copy. But it has to be an exact copy of the file. For instance, it’s from a different folder on your computer. Or maybe you and a coworker are trying to save the same file to a shared Dropbox.

On the other side of that, Dropbox won’t notify you if you try to upload a similar file. The difference is this isn’t an exact copy, but rather a version of a file that’s already on your Dropbox. A file you saved, but your coworker made some edits and renamed the file. Or you have a series of photos taken at slightly different angles, but is the same picture more-or-less.

Dealing with duplicates can be a headache, but similar files can be a huge mess. Even if it’s just a bunch of tiny files, collectively, they all add up and will take up a ton of valuable Dropbox space.

How to find duplicate files in Dropbox

When it comes to finding the duplicates in Dropbox, thankfully, there is a way you can automatically search and delete them. But if you have the patience, you can also do it manually. Whichever method you decide to go with, it’s easiest if you first download the Dropbox app for Mac.

How to remove Dropbox duplicates automatically

You can automatically find and delete Dropbox duplicate files (also called “Dropbox de-duplication”), by using Gemini 2: the duplicate finder. After you download and install Gemini 2 on your Mac, it will scan your Dropbox storage and calculate how much space you’ll be able to free up.

In fact, when it’s done scanning, Gemini 2 uses an algorithm to automatically select the best version of your files. That way, you can delete your duplicates by clicking the Smart Cleanup button. Of course, if you prefer to do it yourself, instead of using the Smart Cleanup feature, you can review the results of the scan and identify the duplicates you want to keep or delete.

Gemini 2 app
Tip:

Gemini 2 is amazing at scanning files that are stored locally, externally, on network drives, and on cloud storage drives that are downloaded to your Mac. But Dropbox has a feature called Dropbox Smart Sync, which saves space by only downloading files when you need them. We don’t recommend scanning these “smart synced” folders with Gemini 2 because it will make Dropbox download all of those files consuming disk space on your Mac.

How to remove duplicate files in Dropbox manually

The other way you can remove duplicates from Dropbox is to manually find and delete them. Which is a viable option if you have the time and patience for it. Some copies are easier to spot than others. Here are a couple of tips for finding exact duplicates in Dropbox using Finder on your Mac:

  • View files by name - Some photo apps are buggy and continually upload the same photos again and again. These photos typically have the same filename but with an extra number on the end. (Here’s a more detailed post on using duplicate photo finder apps.)
  • Search Dropbox folders - If you have multiple folders in your Dropbox, try opening all the folders and just compare filenames.
  • Set up a Smart Folder - You can use the Finder feature, Smart Folder, to collect all of your Dropbox files, even if they’re buried in other folders, into one place.
Smart folders on Mac

Once you have your duplicates in sight, simply delete them from the Dropbox app or move them out of your Mac’s Dropbox folder.

How to find and remove similar files in Dropbox

Filtering similar files is more difficult because they don’t usually have the same name or are not stored in the same folder. But thankfully, some of the features in Finder can help out a little bit. Follow these steps to help you find and view similar files quicker using Finder:

  1. Download and set up the Dropbox app for Mac.
  2. Open a new Finder window and click Dropbox in the left sidebar.
  3. Click the List View button.
  4. Then, click the Kind tab to group your files by type.
  5. Select files and press the spacebar on your keyboard to view them in Quicklook.

Once you’ve identified which of your files are similar, then you can just drag them to the Trash Can in your Dock, and that will remove them from Dropbox as well.

Of course, if you feel like manually searching for similar files is taking too long, you can always use a duplicates finder app like Gemini 2. It has a user-friendly interface that helps you clean up your files in minutes. And reviewing your files and photos to decide which ones you want to keep couldn’t be any easier.

If you feel like your Dropbox clutter is out of control, don’t worry, you now know how to do something about it. With Gemini 2 and the powerful features that Dropbox provides, your storage space can be managed efficiently with the right tools and very little of your time.


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Your know-how to fight duplicates