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As you continue to work with iTunes, you're almost guaranteed at some point to import a song you already have in your library and in most cases iTunes will dutifully copy that song into your library again and you will end up with a duplicate of that song. Now iTunes is pretty good at detecting an exact copy of a file, so if you try to drag a copy of an existing song in to your library again iTunes won't copy it but there's still always the likelihood that your library contains duplicates of several files. To find the duplicates, choose File > Display Duplicates. iTunes then displays any songs that have the exact same name and the exact same artist.
So now I'm looking at all the duplicate songs iTunes has found, because I have my Music Library selected. If you're trying to find duplicates of videos, make sure you select Movies or TV Shows or whichever kind of media you're trying to find duplicates of. Now, if you want to leave this view of duplicates, you can click Show All at the bottom of the screen to go back to the main view of your library again, but I do want to work with duplicates right now so I will go back. And at this point I need to decide whether I want to keep these duplicate or not because there may be some reasons to keep copies of duplicates in your library. For instance, this track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Don't Come Around Here No More," I have two copies of that but notice that one copy is of his Greatest Hits album and the other copy is of the album it originally appeared on, Southern Accents.
And I want to make sure that song stays in place on both albums because I might be listening to one or the other sometime and I don't want the track missing from either album. Or take this track "More To Lose" from The Jellybricks. And from what I can see here these tracks appear to be completely identical. They both of the exact same name, artist, and album title but if I get Info on them, again by right clicking and choosing Get Info, I can see that one is an AAC file and one is an MP3 file and if you recall, I created the MP3 version in a previous chapter.
So sometimes you have to look at each track's info to discern the difference between them. It could be that they're different file types or that one is encoded at a higher quality than the other. Once you figure out the difference, then you can decide whether or not you and keep the duplicates around. In this case, I might want to keep both versions, if I need to send the MP3 version to some one. Now in the case of the song "Fight Test" from The Flaming Lips, these tracks really are identical in every way, except the one version has the album artwork and the other one doesn't. Personally, I think this is a legitimate reason to get rid of the duplicate since I don't think there is a reason to keep the version around without the artwork.
So I will just have that track selected and I will press Delete on my keyboard. iTunes is first going to ask me, if I'm sure I want to remove this song from my library. Now you won't see this dialog box if you previously checked Don't ask me again. Notice that it also tells me that these items will be removed from any iPod or iPhone which syncs with my iTunes library. So if you want to keep the song on any iPod you sync with your copy of iTunes, you will want to keep the song here. But in this case I'm getting rid of a duplicate, so I don't need to worry about that. So I will click Remove. Next iTunes asks me if I want to move the files to the Trash.
On Windows you will be asked if you want to move the files to the Recycle Bin. Now, when you remove a file from your library, you are only removing the reference to file. The file itself is still sitting in my iTunes library folder. I just wont see it listed anywhere in iTunes itself. So I have the choice to keep the file where it is, maybe it's a file I want to keep a copy of it but I don't want to see in my library, or I can click Move to Trash to move the file to my system trash. Since it's the duplicate I don't need it. It's sitting there taking of extra space, so I will click Move to Trash and if I actually go look in my system trash right now, you can see the file is sitting right there.
Now, if you're on a Mac and you know that you want to both remove a file from the library and move it to the trash without having to go through those two dialog boxes we just saw, you can select the track and hold down the Command key while pressing Delete. That will automatically remove the song from your library and move it to the trash in one shot. On Windows, you can hold down Control as you press Delete but that won't move this song to the recycle bin. It will just remove from your library without giving you a dialog box asking you to confirm that you want to do so. So that's how you can locate and remove duplicate songs in your library. When you're done click Show All to return to the main view of your library.
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