How to Find Duplicate Files on Your Computer

By Daniel Hatter

Outdated and duplicate files can take up a lot of space on your hard drive if you don’t perform routine file maintenance to delete them on a regular basis. This can grow into a major, space-wasting problem if your files are backed up and the old archival files aren't automatically deleted by your backup program. Windows has a built-in search tool you can use to search for files in any folder or across an entire disk drive. If you know that duplicate files are hiding on your computer, you can use the Windows Search utility to find and delete them.

Step 1

Open the Windows Start menu and click inside the "Search programs and files" box. Type all or part of the name of the duplicate file or files you wish to find, or type the file extension, such as ".txt," ".html" or ".zip."

Step 2

Press "Enter" to begin the search. The results will display in a Windows Explorer window. To modify your search query, click inside the Search box at the top right, type a different filename or extension, and press "Enter" to search again.

Step 3

Click and drag to select duplicate files. You can also press and hold the "Ctrl" key and click on multiple files to select them. Duplicate files will be identified as "Copy (2)," "Copy (3)" and so on.

Step 4

Press the "Delete" button to delete the duplicate files if desired. Click "OK" to confirm the deletion.