Last week, I showed you how you can use Lightroom to find duplicate images on your hard drive and to create a new, duplicate-free folder of images. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use the Duplicate Finder Lightroom plug-in to find duplicate images inside of your Lightroom catalog.
During the import process, Lightroom will allow you to not import suspected duplicates. While that is a great feature, it doesn’t do much for duplicate images that are already in your catalog, or when Lightroom doesn’t see an image coming in as a duplicate. This happened to me a few times when I got a new iPhone that I restored with all the images from its predecessor. Lightroom didn’t flag any of the images coming in from the new phone as duplicates, even though they had already been imported in to the catalog.
Lightroom doesn’t have a mechanism to easily find duplicate images that are already in the catalog, but there is a plug-in available that does a pretty good job. The Lightroom Duplicate Finder plug-in uses the EXIF data contained in your files, comparing model, serial number, lens, ISO, and other attributes, to flag images in your catalog that it suspects are duplicates. The plug-in isn’t free (although it does offer a free trial), but the £8.50 is a tiny investment for something that solves such a huge problem for many Lightroom users.
Installing The Plug-in
Download the plug-in from the developer’s website here: http://www.lightroom-plugins.com/DupesIndex.php. You can either download a Windows installer, or a zip file for Windows or Mac that contains the .lrplugin plug-in file and an instruction guide. Since I’m on a Mac, I downloaded the zip file, extracted it, and moved the .lrplugin file in to my Dropbox folder where I store my plug-ins to make them accessible from all of my computers.
From there, open up the Plug-in Manager, click Add to install the new plug-in, locate the .lrplugin file and click Open. When I installed the plug-in, I was prompted by Lightroom that I needed to update my catalog, which I did by clicking Update Catalog.
If you’ve already purchased the plug-in, you can put in your e-mail and license number on the plug-in screen, or exit the Plug-in Manager to give the plug-in a test run with the trial license. The trial license simply limits the number of duplicates that it will identify.
Finding Your Duplicates
Once you have the plug-in installed, you can run it by navigating to Library > Plug-in Extras > Find Duplicates 2.
A Find Duplicates dialog will appear that allows you to select the criteria that you would like to use to identify suspected duplicates.
The plug-in will allow you to search for duplicates in all of your photos, in selected photos, or even to select photos and to search the rest of the catalog to see if only those photos have duplicates. You can also include or ignore virtual copies, ignore files with specific keywords, or ignore certain image types. This last option is useful if your catalog includes the original images and an exported JPG, for example. While they are the same image and have the same EXIF criteria, I don’t want to flag my JPG exports as duplicates for the exercise of cleaning up my catalog.
Once you’ve got your options selected, click OK and let the plug-in go to work.
When the plug-in finishes, it creates a Duplicate Photos collection which will have all the copies of the duplicate images that it found conveniently grouped next to each other.
The plug-in simply identifies duplicates. It up to you to make the decision as to which images you want to keep and which you want to delete. At this point, you can use Lightroom’s filtering to figure out which images you want to keep. You can also just scroll through each image and use the Metadata tab to compare the data about each one of the duplicates and Reject (X) the ones you want to delete. Once you have all of your duplicates rejected, you can delete the images by navigating to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos.
Now you’re duplicate-free!
I ran the plug-in on my working catalog that included some raw files, exported JPG, and my iPhone backup folder. It took just over 30 seconds to go through just under 20,000 images and it found 4,968 matches.
I found that I had a lot of web versions of images (600px wide) and print versions (3000px wide) of the same images or multiple exports for the web in different folders, so I rejected the duplicate web services and removed them from my catalog.
Overall, the plug-in provides a much-needed bit of functionality that is missing from Lightroom. If your catalog has duplicates and you have been struggling to clean them up, grab this plug-in!
P.S. If you decide to buy this plug-in, the developer makes it easy to also donate to MAG. MAG basically goes in to places and removes mines and unexploded ordinance, saving lives and generally making the world a better, safer place. Kick in a few shekels if you are so inclined and help clear up some real-world explosives while you clean up your Lightroom catalog.