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Comparison: Searching for Identical Duplicates with PhotoSweeper and Duplicate Cleaner Pro

Introduction

This article compares the Scan Settings or Scan Criteria for identifying Identical Duplicate photos and examines how the available settings/criteria affect which photos are displayed in scan results.

PhotoSweeper is the most feature-rich duplicate removal application for Mac. For PC users, Duplicate Cleaner Pro is the most powerful. While these two applications perform the same task, there are significant differences in how they work.

Although the biggest difference between the applications is how duplicates can be marked for removal, that topic will be covered in a future article.

I have chosen to use Duplicate Cleaner Pro because the extensive testing I have done with it and with PhotoSweeper prove to me that I can remove duplicates more accurately and thoroughly with Duplicate Cleaner Pro and reliably preserve information in the form of added metadata and meaningful information like folder names. I have been working with the developers at Duplicate Cleaner Pro since 2021 and have influenced the many changes and improvements made since then.

I have clearly noted my bias, but I am attempting to make my comparison and scoring as unbiased as possible. However, the very different approaches these two applications take makes it very difficult to compare them.

It’s important to understand the terminology I use in this and all other articles and videos, so if you have not already done so, please visit the Definitions page of this website before reading further.

The PhotoSweeper Approach

There are three different criteria one can set before scanning for Identical Duplicates. Auto-Mark preferences are set before files are scanned. The Auto-Mark preferences have no impact on what files are displayed in results. If Auto-Mark is not used, manual marking can be done, but photos must be compared group-by-group.  

The Duplicate Cleaner Pro Approach

There are about thirty different criteria one can set before scanning for Identical Duplicates. No marking preferences can be set before files are scanned. The scan criteria control what files are displayed in results, and since there are so many available criteria, one knows what difference(s) there will be amongst the files in the results. Then, when results are displayed, one can use the Mark by Group section of the Selection Assistant to mark files for removal. Those options are similar to those in PhotoSweeper’s Auto-Mark preferences. One can also mark files manually by comparing files group-by-group, or with the help of many different filters, text-matching options and file location matching options available in the Duplicate Files tab.

Watch the Video Too!

This article and the corresponding video include different information. I recommend reading the article first. A link to the video is at the end of the article.

About Scoring

I did my best to make fair comparisons and to consider the many differences between the two applications. The list below shows what was compared, and the maximum possible score:

Dcp Ps Score Card

What is an Identical Duplicate Photo?

Photo Sweeper Definition

  • In PhotoSweeper, Identical Duplicates are called Duplicate Files.
  • They have the same file size – with no tolerance.
  • They have the same pixel dimension

Because there is no tolerance for file size difference, no duplicate groups will include a photo with a Keyword, Rating, Description/Caption, or Title and one without. But results can include files with different values in those fields.  

Duplicate Cleaner Pro Definition

There is no name for Identical Duplicates in Duplicate Cleaner Pro, but they are photos that have:

  • An Image Similarity of ‘Exact Match’.
  • The same file size – with a very small tolerance.
  • They have the same pixel dimensions.

Because of the small file size tolerance, groups of Identical Duplicates may include a photo with a Keyword, Rating, Description/Caption, or Title and one without. Results can also include files with different values in those fields.  

Comparing Date Matching Options

Maximum Score: 5 points

PhotoSweeper – 3 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 4 points

PhotoSweeper – 3 points

There are no date matching options in PhotoSweeper, but because this article is only concerned with Identical Duplicates, date matching is of low importance. It is rare for a photo that has been stripped of its Snap Date metadata to be an Identical Duplicate to a photo that has good Snap Date metadata because a photo that has been stripped of its Snap Date metadata almost always has a smaller file size.

Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 4 points

Although date matching options are not very important when looking for Identical Duplicate photos, Duplicate Cleaner Pro’s Date/Time Taken and Time Taken Subseconds options give it a small advantage over PhotoSweeper in this area. Time Taken subseconds is valuable metadata, but not all applications support subseconds, or support a different number of subseconds digits, and so one or more subseconds digits can be stripped from a photo’s Snap Date metadata.

Dcp Date Tags Options

Matching to the subseconds is a very useful option so, all else being equal, I will always choose to keep the photo with subseconds metadata over the one without. The reason is that after Identical Duplicates have been removed, subseconds metadata is very helpful when trying to determine if photos that look identical are burst/sequential shots or if they originated from the same photo.

Identical Duplicate photos with good Snap Date metadata rarely have different Snap Date metadata. I have occasionally encountered Identical Duplicates with different Snap Date metadata, and I’m not sure how that can happen. They can’t both be correct!

The early scans I do when searching for Identical Duplicates include matching Date/Time Taken and Time Taken subseconds match, but my later scans look for Identical Duplicates whose Date/Time Taken do not match. While it’s rare for a duplicate scan like that to yield results, if I do get results, I try to determine which date is correct.

Comparing Filename Matching Options

Maximum Score: 5 points

PhotoSweeper – 3 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 5 points

The main difference in this area is that Duplicate Cleaner Pro includes an option to ignore certain filename suffixes, like “(1)” and “- Copy”. When that option is used, more duplicates will be identified as having the same filename, and that helps to speed up the duplicate removal process.

When I remove Identical Duplicates with Duplicate Cleaner Pro, I always use the “Ignore ‘Copy’ part of filename” option because I get more results and it offers better control when choosing which duplicates to remove— assuming all else is equal. 

Comparing Folder Name Matching Options

Maximum Score: 5 points

PhotoSweeper – 0 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 4 points

Folder names play an important role in digital photo organizing. Even if your client has not given folders meaningful names, like “Sarah’s Wedding”, many folder names include reliable dates, like “First Day of Grade One 2014-09-03” or date information, like “Halloween 2012”. That date information is important to preserve in case the dates of the photos in those folders photos in those folders lack Snap Date metadata.

Duplicate Cleaner Pro does offer folder name matching options. One can specify that duplicates found must have the same folder name, and one can even specify the number of folder levels that must match.

Dcp Folder Name 3 Levels

PhotoSweeper does not have such an option. As result, it is very difficult and time-consuming to preserve potentially useful information that may be in the folder path.

In the first steps of my Duplicate Cleaner Pro workflow, I scan for Identical Duplicates that have the same folder name at multiple folder levels (as shown in the screenshot below). That allows me to remove Identical Duplicates without having to compare folder names. Once Identical Duplicate have been removed from folders with identical names, I look for meaningful information in the folder path before marking duplicates to remove and keep the photo whose folder path includes the most potentially useful information.

Dcp Folder Names Examples

Comparing Folder and File Location Options

Maximum Score: 3 points

PhotoSweeper – 2 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 2 points

Libraries and Catalogs

Apple Photos Libraries and Lightroom Classic catalogs can be included in PhotoSweeper scans. This is a very important feature for many pro photo organizers, but it is not important to me for many reasons—too many reasons to include in this article.

Reminder: this article compares the Settings or Scan Criteria that affect which photos are displayed in the results, and not how photos can be marked for removal.

Folder Locking

Both PhotoSweeper and Duplicate Cleaner Pro allow one to lock one or more folders to prevent duplicates from being removed from those folders.

I rarely lock folders because doing so can result in a photo with superior properties being removed. Instead of locking a folder because, for example, it has a meaningful folder name the client wants preserved, I would move the higher-quality/larger photo to the same folder so I could remove the lower-quality/smaller photo. With Duplicate Cleaner Pro, compromise is not necessary.

Folder Comparison Options

Maximum Score: 3 points

PhotoSweeper – 2 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 5 points

PhotoSweeper

In PhotoSweeper one can use the Side by Side Mode option to compare one folder against another.

Duplicate Cleaner Pro

Duplicate Cleaner Pro includes many different options for comparing folders.

Dcp Scan Locations Options

Comparing Tag Options

Maximum Score: 5 points

PhotoSweeper – 3 points
Duplicate Cleaner Pro – 5 points

Only Duplicate Cleaner Pro includes can be set consider tags like those shown below (and others) when scanning for duplicates:

Dcp Tags Criteria

Keep in mind that this article compares the duplicate scan options, not the options for marking duplicates for removal.

While the PhotoSweeper claims that the size of “Duplicate” photos must match “to the byte”, my testing proves that groups of Duplicates found by PhotoSweeper may include photos with different added metadata in the same field.

Because Duplicate Cleaner Pro does allow for a very small file size difference, Identical Duplicates can have different added metadata in the same field, or a group of Identical Duplicates can include a photo with added metadata, and one without. I take full advantage of the Tag options show above (and others not shown) to control what photos are displayed in results. These and other Scan Criteria enable me to generate results that do not have to be examined carefully to ensure added metadata or meaningful information is not lost.

Final Scores

Dcp Ps Final Scores Chart

If you disagree with the scores I give in this article, please contact me and let me know. I would be happy to discuss my findings with you.

Watch the Video on the Photo Organizing Stuff YouTube Channel

Video: Comparison: Searching for Identical Duplicates with PhotoSweeper and Duplicate Cleaner Pro

Comparison Photosweeper Duplicate Cleaner Pro Identical Dupes

© Meg Macintyre, Photo Organizing Stuff

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