How to Search and Remove Duplicate Files (Freeware)?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Brenda T. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have a lot of duplicate word documents and pictures in my computer. I would like to know what is the best way to find the duplicate files and delete them? Do I need to buy a special program? And if so do you recommend one? "

My response:

That's a great question -- thanks for asking.

You don't need to buy a special program to search for and delete duplicate files, as there are plenty of excellent freeware programs that will do just that. One program in particular that comes to mind is NirSoft's SearchMyFiles. This program is packed full of features that allow you to search for just about anything on your computer, including: regular files, duplicate files, non-duplicate files (only) - plus it has oodles of search criteria, including wildcards.

For example, you can: search by file type, file size; specify a base directory; set creation / modify date; search for text contained in files, and text not contained in files. You can also specify files and folders to exclude from your search, and use wildcards for file types and subfolders. All these features together make this program extremely powerful. The program itself is very small (199kb), very quick, and portable -- meaning you can put it on a thumb drive and use it on multiple computers without having to use a special 'setup' program to install it.

How to Use SearchMyFiles

Let's say you want to find all the duplicate document files on your computer contained on the C drive. Here are the steps to take:

1. First, download SearchMyFiles to your computer; please note that it comes in a .zip archive and you will need to extract it in order to run it. Also note that there is a 32bit version and a 64bit version available; if you're not sure which one to get, download the 32bit version.

2. Next, extract the .zip onto your hard drive. You can do this by right-clicking on the SearchMyFiles .zip file, and then select "Extract All".

3. Once the file is extracted, launch the SearchMyFiles main executable file.

4. The program should now be launched. In the "Search Mode" pull down menu at the very top, select "Duplicate Files."

5. In the "Base Folder" field, enter in "C:\" (no quotes), or click on the "Browse" button and select your C drive.

6. In the "Files Wildcard" field, enter in "*.doc*" (no quotes). A little explanation of what this means: the * is the wildcard, and the ".doc*" refers to files with a .doc or .docx extension (namely, document files). If you wanted to search for duplicate files with the name "brenda" in them, you would enter: *brenda*.doc*. In English, this wildcard search means "search for anything followed by "brenda", followed by anything, followed by ".doc", followed by anything."

7. Click the "Start Search" button near the bottom. The results will appear in a separate window, color coded and easy to read.

8. In the results window, you can select files (left click) and then right click to bring up a context menu for more options. To delete a file, select it, then press Del on your keyboard to send it to your recycle bin.

Experiment with the other features in this fantastic program, and I'm sure you'll agree, it's very powerful and easy to use.

Additional Help: 1-on-1 with Dennis

If you need any help using this program (or any program for that matter), feel free to contact me through chat or via the contact form. I am more than happy to provide 1-on-1 tutorial training using remote desktop support. For an explanation of how that works, read this article.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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