Duplicates – Digital Photo Organising

In the world of digital photo organising it is not uncommon to have many duplicate photos in our digital collection.

In the pre-digital days, when we took our rolls of film to be developed, we may have ordered a duplicate set to give to friends and family, but these were limited to one or two duplicates per photo, and in most cases were given away – with digital photos, duplicates can quickly add up to a lot more than one or two additional images.

At the end of the day, duplicate photos aren’t going to cause any massive issues, but if you do have many duplicates floating around, and particularly if they’re spread over multiple devices, it does indicate a level of general disorganisation of your photos. By cleaning up your photos – organising them and de-duping them – you will no doubt have a feeling that you’re back in control.  And you’ll feel a lot better for it! In many cases, photo collections that have been de-duped will save a lot of space in whatever device or cloud storage you have them saved, too.

So why do we collect so many duplicates of the same image? There are many reasons for this, including the following:

  • Saving the same images in different places to have backups, but then losing track of where you’ve saved them, and on what devices
  • Same image, but different file formats
  • Re-sizing images to send in emails or upload to social media, and then keeping the re-sized images
  • Editing and cropping images and then saving the edited versions, along with the original versions
  • Exporting, or copying images to use in photo projects such as photo books, and then keeping these exported or copied images, as well as the originals

I’m guilty of having done all the above!!

If you have made the decision to organise your digital photos, de-duping should be part of the process. If you have your photos organised by a professional photo organiser, de-duping will most definitely be part of the process.

There are many ways to reduce the number of duplicated images in your photo collection, but first and foremost, all of your photos should be gathered from all devices, including cloud storage, and then copied to one central place, such as an external hard drive.  Once this part of the process has been completed, all your photos will be ready to organise. Without doubt, there will be duplicates amongst them – sometimes running into the thousands, or even tens of thousands!

De-duping photos sounds simple enough, but in fact, can be quite a complex process.  If you are dealing with completely identical images, it’s simple enough. However, many images are the same, but not identical. They may be of different sizes and different pixel dimensions, they may have been cropped or edited, some may have metadata such as keywords embedded in the file, and some may have been stripped of metadata – and the list goes on. There might be different reasons to favour different images, when selecting which duplicate to keep and which to delete. Broadly speaking, it is usually best to keep the image with the largest pixel dimensions, but there might be circumstances where other factors override this. For example, you might prefer to keep the edited version which has smaller pixel dimensions over the unedited version which is a larger file size.

There are apps and software available to help with the de-duping process. These are powerful programs but require a degree of learning to use effectively. Some of these include:

  • PhotoSweeper (for Mac users)
  • Duplicate Cleaner Pro (for Windows users)
  • Cisdem Duplicate Finder (for Mac and Windows users)

These programs work well if used properly, and although they may not detect 100% of duplicates in your photo collection, they will most certainly detect a good proportion of them.

For those who have iPhones, the new IOS16 update includes a Duplicate Removal feature which you might find handy, too.

Once your photo collection has been organised and de-duped, it is good practice to implement a system to deal with duplicates going forwards. For example, keeping track of where you are keeping your duplicates and then regularly deleting them may be something you’d look at doing.

If you’re keen to de-dupe your photo collection using PhotoSweeper or Cisdem Duplicate Finder, there are courses available on The Photo Managers website, which you might want to check out.

Alternatively, if it all sounds too hard, and you’d like to hand over the photo organising and de-duping to a certified photo organiser, don’t hesitate to contact me!

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