Save Space by Deleting Duplicate iOS Apps on Your Computer

This morning, I went to iTunes to check and see if I had any app updates. While I see the updates on my iOS devices, and download new versions, I don’t often check iTunes for updates to apps that I don’t use. Since I review a lot of apps, I have several hundred iOS apps, which I keep around, just in case.

Then I got to wondering how much space all these apps were taking up on my Mac. I looked at my Mobile Applications folder (in the iTunes Media folder), and found it was a whopping 30 GB. I looked inside, curious that I had that many apps, and found a number of duplicates.

Duplicate apps

As you can see above, there are some apps that are actual duplicates of the same files – Angry Birds 1.5.3 1.ipa is a duplicate of Angry Birds 1.5.3.ipa – but there are also older versions of apps, which should have been deleted during updates. For example, there are three versions of 1Password, and two versions of Angry Birds 5 (Angry Birds 5.0.0.ipa and Angry Birds 5.0.1.ipa). iTunes should have deleted all of these when updating apps.

So, I went through the folder and deleted all the duplicate apps. I deleted about 2 GB worth of dupes, which isn’t a lot compared to the total size of the folder, but it’s still 2 GB gained. Some of the duplicate apps were quite large, such as the 352 MB Numbers. You may have other large apps that take up space.

So take some time to check this folder and see if you have duplicates. You might save a fair amount of space too.

18 thoughts on “Save Space by Deleting Duplicate iOS Apps on Your Computer

    • Yes and no. You can download them if you have the bandwidth; some of us don’t. And I have some apps that aren’t available any more on the App Store.

    • Yes and no. You can download them if you have the bandwidth; some of us don’t. And I have some apps that aren’t available any more on the App Store.

  1. Did it and reclaimed 1.96 GB. But iTunes, even after restarting the app, still shows those old apps present, although it of course cannot find them in the Finder. Any suggestions for getting iTunes to update its database?

    • I only deleted duplicates, which didn’t show up in my iTunes library. You’re saying that you saw the dupes in iTunes?

  2. Did it and reclaimed 1.96 GB. But iTunes, even after restarting the app, still shows those old apps present, although it of course cannot find them in the Finder. Any suggestions for getting iTunes to update its database?

    • I only deleted duplicates, which didn’t show up in my iTunes library. You’re saying that you saw the dupes in iTunes?

  3. No, not the older versions (which were still in that mobile apps folder). But I did delete old apps that I no longer needed or wanted, some of which were dups of more recent ones.

    • You should have done that in iTunes. To fix it, drag all the apps from iTunes to a new folder. Delete the contents of the Mobile Applications folder. Drag all the apps you took out of iTunes back into iTunes. They’ll get added to the iTunes library, and to the Mobile Applications folder.

  4. No, not the older versions (which were still in that mobile apps folder). But I did delete old apps that I no longer needed or wanted, some of which were dups of more recent ones.

    • You should have done that in iTunes. To fix it, drag all the apps from iTunes to a new folder. Delete the contents of the Mobile Applications folder. Drag all the apps you took out of iTunes back into iTunes. They’ll get added to the iTunes library, and to the Mobile Applications folder.

  5. If you’ve been an iOS user for a while, you may be able to save even more space.

    I noticed this morning that I had two “Mobile Applications” folders:

    ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications (as in your post above)

    but also:

    ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications

    The latter was full of old .ipa files, with the most recent being from August 2012.

    I think that when iTunes 11 came out, the folder where .ipa files are stored changed, but the old folder and its contents were left orphaned.

    I deleted the old “~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications” folder – and got myself back a whopping 5.4GB of space.

    Just a warning though: before trying this at home, triple-check that you’re deleting the old iTunes 10 folder ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Application and not the folder where iTunes currently stores apps, ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications

      • September 2012 was when I replaced my iPhone 3 with my iPhone 5 (still going strong), which would have had a newer iOS version, so that might be something to do with it.

        I was also working & living away in the bush and my internet connection was a 3G dongle with sporadic reception, so it might have been an interrupted migration or somesuch that left the orphaned folder.

        PS. Looking at my browser history this is the third time in a year I’ve ended up on your site while looking for information – so thank you 🙂

  6. If you’ve been an iOS user for a while, you may be able to save even more space.

    I noticed this morning that I had two “Mobile Applications” folders:

    ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications (as in your post above)

    but also:

    ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications

    The latter was full of old .ipa files, with the most recent being from August 2012.

    I think that when iTunes 11 came out, the folder where .ipa files are stored changed, but the old folder and its contents were left orphaned.

    I deleted the old “~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications” folder – and got myself back a whopping 5.4GB of space.

    Just a warning though: before trying this at home, triple-check that you’re deleting the old iTunes 10 folder ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Application and not the folder where iTunes currently stores apps, ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications

      • September 2012 was when I replaced my iPhone 3 with my iPhone 5 (still going strong), which would have had a newer iOS version, so that might be something to do with it.

        I was also working & living away in the bush and my internet connection was a 3G dongle with sporadic reception, so it might have been an interrupted migration or somesuch that left the orphaned folder.

        PS. Looking at my browser history this is the third time in a year I’ve ended up on your site while looking for information – so thank you 🙂

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