Delete duplicate pictures in Google Photos

Google PhotosGoogle Photos is by far the best tool to save all of your pictures to; I even moved my Flickr library to Google Photos recently and I couldn’t be happier. The great feature of Google Photos, next to its easy to use interface, is the unlimited number of photos you can store. Since it’s unlimited, I often find myself dropping whole folders onto Google Photos using the web interface at photos.google.com.

However, I recently found out that I also have lots of duplicate images on the service. Since the storage is unlimited, it happens I upload the same pictures two times. To keep a clean pictures library, I was looking for a way to efficiently remove duplicates without manual work involved.

First of all, Google Photos will automatically recognise if the exact same image already exists in your library when you have enabled automatic upload. What this means is that if you have automatic upload enabled on the desktop or on a mobile device, the service will not upload any pictures nor videos that already exist.

However, when you manually upload pictures, you can upload one or more videos or photos that you already upload before – be it either via the automatic upload feature or also manually. The first solution would be to keep an eye out yourself and see if you already uploaded a set of pictures or movies.

The second option is to use the Picasa client. Get it at https://picasa.google.com/ and install it. Then, login into your Google account. You will now see that all of your Google Photos files will show up in the client. Enable syncing and then go to Tools, choose Experimental and click on Show Duplicate Files. Delete the duplicate files and sync your library again. Now any duplicate pictures will be removed from your library.

In the future, Google may introduce a build-in feature into their mobile and desktop tools that allow to remove identical photos and videos.

 

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66 thoughts on “Delete duplicate pictures in Google Photos

  1. Hi, your post has been the most simple, and helpful post of all when talking about the duplicate photos issue. However, I noticed that my Google photos does the duplicate thing even when I’m on auto-backup. I’m not doing any of it manually. I will try switching to Picasa. It’s absurd that this is happening, and I have posted on a few google forums, and no one has been able to help besides saying to “go through them and delete them one by one”. I’m not doing that with thousands of photos!

    Thanks, and I hope your Picasa suggestion will help!

    1. Hi Cecilia,
      When I tried this, Google says that picasa is retired, did you get that message, too? I happened to have Picasa 3 installed on another computer so I’m in the process of downloading the 422 albums I have on Google Photos (ugh) so I can delete the duplicates and then re-upload them (ugh) to Google. I am really hoping Google comes up with a better solution for others!

      1. I am getting the same message. Has anyone found out how to do this yet?
        I dont have that software on any device so I cant try what your currently doing :(

        If you have any suggestions or help hit me back please

          1. Like others, I’ve installed the latest version of Picasa and followed the instructions. However, even after logging in and linking to my Google Photos account, only local photos appear in Picasa, there’s no way to see photos in the online Google Photos account and therefore the Show Duplicate Files button does nothing :(

          2. Good KD! Thanks!! I find Google Picasa to be a very handy resource even still. I have some copies of the setup file stashed around here just in case. Thanks for posting a link so others can download the good old standby, it’s a great tool to have on anyone’s list of keepers!! It’s still very useful to me and I’m sure to many others also.

      2. I did, just now, did you find another way to delete duplicates in GooglePhotos? While the photos are still on my phone I use Clean Master tools photo cleaner, but then again if I don’t do it immediately it uploads everything.

    2. Cecilia!!
      Any progress yet? Has Thomas’ solution path “solved” the problem for you? I have done everything that Google has asked and have wound up backing up photos not only from a 20k+ Picasa library but also from a backup drive that was attached to the PC at the time Google ‘said’ they were going to back up my Picasa photos before abandoning the product. In addition, there were other temporary kinds of places (folders) where I had segregated large and small numbers of images for some specific purpose such as creating a DVD for a family member etc.. Anyway, at this point, there is such a mixture of improperly backed up files and those that have automatically been backed up from wireless devices that the project is odious with some images occurring 3 or more times!!! A gargantuan-seeming undertaking. I’m very interested to hear that someone has found something that works.

      1. It’s insane that Google Photos can’t delete duplicates. I re-selected my pictures folder and GP went ahead and duplicated all 25,000 pictures. It has taken days at 1 mbyte/sec. If I could delete them all and start from scratch I would (can only delete 500 at a time).

  2. Who makes software that doesn’t account for duplicates? To suggest going thru 1×1 is absurd.
    Also trying to reach Google is another matter,it’s easier to reach the president probably.

      1. How does that help? Like others, I’ve installed the latest version of Picasa and followed the instructions. However, even after logging in and linking to my Google Photos account, only local photos appear in Picasa, there’s no way to see photos in the online Google Photos account and therefore the Show Duplicate Files button does nothing :(

          1. Can’t I do it online using Picasa….instead of downloading the google photo to my drive, then finding the duplicates…. it is cumbersome…

  3. Thanks very much for writing this article. It’s better than any help Google can provide. I have a question – I have photos I uploaded using Picasa (the photos are stored locally on a NAS, mapped to U:\). I still have Piacsa installed – I knew what Google had planned for it but wanted to keep using it as long as possible. I want to be able to just add my entire U:\Photos directory (which contains all my photos inside subfolders) and hope that Google Photos Uploader will know which of those files are already uploaded (some are, some aren’t, Picasa was making a hash of uploading some of the folders and sticking on certain files, even though they met the criteria and max file limits etc.). I believe this is wishful thinking though, and doing this will basically cause it to reupload thousands of my photos that I then have to sift through, deleting the duplicates manually. Does anyone have any idea?

  4. Just bit the bullet here and am going through manually. I’m retired, so WTF, I’ll do it. Like a clean library.

    I think I know how this happened in the first place so no more, I hope.

    Google: get on it

  5. I’ve read several articles online that state that Google won’t allow a duplicate image to be uploaded through the manual web browser uploader. I’ve tested this with an image file and it won’t seem to allow me to upload a duplicate. The upload shows as complete, but I can only see a single instance of the image in my library. Perhaps this is something which was changed recently, but I’m interested to understand how people are managing to upload duplicates to their library.

  6. I always tend to over complicate things… but here’s my 2 cents.. I have duplicates that I want to eliminate. I also know there was a period where I was saving full resolution (via Picasa) to Google when I didn’t need it. I ALSO know there are some of those special ones that I want to keep as full resolution while 95% can be reduced to “High quality” to save room.

    Here’s my plan.. its not an easy one, but at least I wont have to find the majority of duplicates:

    – Start with: sync everything up to Google Photos. tablets, Cell phones, and PC’s

    – (if not already done) hook up Google Drive on the PC.

    – verify/modify Google photos on the PC to only back up Documents-My Photos and do NOT include the Google Drive path

    – In Google Drive settings on the web ENABLE the “show Google Photos on your Google Drive” setting. this will begin a full download of everything Google Photos thinks is yours and keep it in its own folder under Drive. Make sure you have enough room, and let it complete which may take days or more.

    – When that’s done, disconnect Google Drive.

    – Delete EVERYTHING from Google Photos on line. This will cascade down to your PC, Tablets and cell phones.

    – When that’s done, Disconnect Google Photos

    – Move your disconnected Documents – Google Drive – Photos back to your Documents – My Photos.

    – Start up Picasa (or whatever photo manipulation organizer you want to use) and take your time. Look for Duplicates and eliminate, if you want to get into cropping and color correcting, do this now. Don’t forget to save the edited photos back to your My Photos. Do everything you want off line.

    – Lastly search for large files and copy the ones you want to keep as large format into another hidden folder not under photos. In 2 steps we convert the original location down to smaller size.

    – Re-enable Google photos and let it re-upload everything in your My Photos folder to the cloud.

    – Once that’s done, you can use Google Photos on the web to go into Photos settings and “recover storage” which will down convert all your photos to the “high quality” setting (<3MB per photo) then set your default to high quality.

    From that point on you will only need to move the photos you want to keep in original (large) format to somewhere other than your regular folders on your phone. Maybe disable Google Drive from showing in Photos and vice versa.. then do a copy on your phone to Google drive any time you want to keep the large format.

  7. Okay, so my issue is that I manually uploaded a bunch after I thought I turned off the auto backup. Well, turns out, they were still backing up, so I have a ton of duplicates, but the ones I backed up manually are in albums, and the auto uploaded ones, presumably are not, and there is no easy way to tell what’s not in an album through Google Photos.

  8. My problem is that after I’ve put a group of photos into a Google Album, sometimes I accidentally add them again later from the Photos section and it adds the duplicates to that Album. Does anyone know how to stop this?

  9. I sync my pictures to a shared IPhoto site and my Google Photo (combined account with my wife). Is it possible that my Google account pulls from my iphone, but when my wife syncs with IPhoto, Google then pulls a copy from her phone?

    I too have some pictures 2, 3, or 4 times. When I look at the names, sometimes I see different names (IMG_1234 vs IMG_1235). I assume this is due to “live” photos or HDR ( features of the new iPhones). But…I also notice duplicates with the same, exact name.

    These pics are automatically uploaded from my wife’s phone and my phone.

    Any thoughts?

  10. I found this answer in Quora:

    “Tom Keane, Software Engineer on Google Photos
    25.4k Views · Most Viewed Writer in Google Photos
    Google Photos already does a lot of de-duplication for you automatically – at least for exact duplicates.

    The uploaders (desktop and mobile clients) will first check to see if the exact same photo exists in your account before uploading.

    Mobile clients and the web client will hide duplicate photos (i.e. will only show one copy of a duplicate). This again only applies to exact duplicates.

    If you are seeing what look like duplicate photos in your Google Photos account, they are most likely either near duplicates or they are copies of the same photo that were changed in some way (e.g. opened in something like Photoshop and then re-saved). If even a single bit is different in two images Google Photos won’t see them as duplicates.”

    https://www.quora.com/How-does-one-delete-duplicate-photos-in-Google-Photos-from-the-web-or-from-the-app-Is-there-feature-where-you-can-scan-and-delete-for-duplicates

  11. Unfortunately Tom this is not true at least in the situation which follows. I had manually uploaded from phone in old picasa app on android. When I switched to google photos I turned on auto upload and it uploaded thousand of duplicates of files which were never re-saved in any other app. Is there any change you will make a fix for Google photos where it can recognize these duplicates once that are uploaded and displaying?

    1. I can’t believe that in this current day and age that a company like Google cannot solve a simple problem like removing duplicate photos from their photo database. We have advanced facial recognition systems, text and language recognition from photos, but even with the considerable backlash and negative comments posted across the internet, Google can’t seem to provide a distinct version of a given image.

      I understand that a user may want to have different versions (ie resolution, transparency, etc) of an image, but if an image is identical in all respects – …. why store and display multiple copies?

      Come on Google, you should be able to sort this……

      Cheers,
      Rod

  12. I have spent weeks and weeks combing thru Google Photos deleting duplicates, sometimes there are 3 or 4 photos that are the same. … not exactly sure how this is happening, I suspect since I also use Picasa, Google Photos is somehow uploading them from Picasa? or perhaps any edit I make to a photo in Picasa is treated as a new photo and therefor uploaded to Google Photos? … I will be doing some experimenting. .. and I agree, as supposedly as sophisticated as Google Photos is supposed to be, one would think there is at least a function to recognize duplicates.

  13. Sorry for the missing word. The correct comment is as under.

    When one deletes ‘duplicates’ generated in Picasa from the disk as mentioned in the blog would the original remain on the disk?

      1. Not sure how that helps. Like others, I’ve installed the latest version of Picasa and followed the instructions. However, even after logging in and linking to my Google Photos account, only local photos appear in Picasa, there’s no way to see photos in the online Google Photos account and therefore the Show Duplicate Files button does nothing :(

  14. What is so dumb about th s whole situation is contray to popular belief Google does not have an unlimited amount of servers and storage space. Every duplicate they save has a cost in drive space and dollars. It’s unbelievable that they don’t fix the issue for that reason alone. It is not a negligible cost across millions of users.

  15. OK, I will delete dup photos one by one but if that photo happens to be in an album it also gets deleted. This is crazy. I no longer allow any photos to uploaded to Photos.

  16. Google photo tells me that I have 40,000 photos. These have been scoured automatically from a Pc, backup disks, an IMac, three iPads, a nexus tablet and two Android phones. I suspect that some of these are duplicates several times over. Surely it is even in Google’s interest to slim these down and save on their hardware?

    1. google has no interest in this as it isxall over the web since they launced app and they just do nothing.

      pretty useless app to me.

      every photo i delete google finds somewhere, and i have nomidaecwhere, and put’s it back.

      we are talking thousands of dups,mdeleted and somehow restored over and over..never ending.

  17. You have some Duplicate Files on your computer which hampers your memory space.
    Just use “DuplicateFilesDeleter” software.
    If you use this software you will be get comfortable.

  18. There is no longer “Tools” in the Google’s photos for Windows, hence no “experimental features”. Why do people intentionally mislead others when they’re looking for help? #sadists

  19. In order to do this, picasa will import photos from your google photo account to your PC. That would result in THOUSANDS of photos being downloaded to my laptop in order for picasa to sort them. There has to be another way that is purely online.

  20. It’s funny that you mention you removed Flickr. Ironically, it’s biggest strong point versus Google is that it does not upload duplicates. I’ve contacted Google numerous times about this issue which I find inexcusable in view of the fact that every digital photo has a timestamp and unique ID.

    My devices are all set to auto upload, but once iCloud photo stream is on, Google Photos is picking up dupes from as many as three devices anyway.

    I hope that since you wrote this over a year ago Google has made progress on this. In the meantime, thanks for finding a temporary solution!

  21. Download all the pictures to your drive. Then use lightroom and import them. It will not download the duplicates. Then you will have a clean library of photos. Use them to upload them and keep a backup too. Thats the most easy way.

    1. I’m the least techie old guy on this page. What does “download all pix to your drive” mean, and how do I do it? If you would step-by-step your suggestion, that would be great!!!!!!!!!

  22. still no such good news today from google, but… i did figure out a way which helped in my specific case: search for a unknown face google identified as being someone! :D

  23. I use Picasa and love it, but can no longer get it to connect to Google Photos, so I bit the bullet to backup and sync all my photos — in my Pictures library on one laptop — and now I have thousands of duplicate images in Google Photos. The names and size of the photos make the images look like exact duplicates, and I’m concerned that deleting one of the images will delete the file on my laptop. I can delete the duplicate images from albums, with manual searches and review against my Picasa install. HELP!

  24. Google has no interest in fixing this. Since the “combining” of “Photos” and “Drive”, my PC ran for days “backing up and Syncing”. Suddenly I have twice as much data in Drive and I’m getting messages that say I can’t send or receive email until I remove some files or BUY MORE SPACE. THIS is why they do not care.

    1. I have the same problem. It warned me that my 15gigs were all used, so I bought 100. In a few days that is all full too, and I haven’t any idea why. Google, please help. You said the uploaded was going away, so I downloaded backup and sync and it has gone wild

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