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How to delete photos in Lightroom Tutorial by Dan Kosmayer

How to delete photos in Lightroom

How to Delete Photos in Lightroom: An In-Depth Guide

Adobe Lightroom is a popular tool among photographers for managing and editing photos. But as you continue to add new images to your Lightroom library, it may become cluttered with photos you no longer need. Whether it's a series of failed shots or just duplicates, Lightroom provides several methods for removing photos. In this article, we'll explore how to delete photos in Lightroom safely and effectively.

Understanding Lightroom's File Management

Before you start deleting photos, it's crucial to understand how Lightroom manages files. Lightroom is a non-destructive editor, meaning it doesn't alter your original photo files. Instead, it stores edits and other changes as metadata within its catalog system. When you import photos into Lightroom, you're adding them to this catalog. When you delete a photo, you have options to remove it from the catalog or delete it from the disk.

Deleting Photos from the Catalog

Removing a photo from the Lightroom catalog doesn't delete the original file from your computer. It simply removes the photo from Lightroom's view. Here's how you can do it:

ic:Select multiple photos by holding down the 'Ctrl' (Windows) or 'Cmd' (Mac) key while clicking on each photo

Select the Photo(s) to Delete: In the Library module, select the photo or photos you want to remove. You can select multiple photos by holding down the 'Ctrl' (Windows) or 'Cmd' (Mac) key while clicking on each photo.

ic:Right-Click on a selected photo and choose 'Remove Photo(s)' from the context menu

Choose to Remove: After selecting the photos, you can press the 'Delete' key on your keyboard, or right-click on a selected photo and choose 'Remove Photo(s)' from the context menu.


Confirm Removal: Lightroom will then ask you to confirm that you want to remove the photo(s) from the catalog. Click 'Remove' to confirm.

    Remember, this method doesn't delete the original photo files from your computer. If you want to add a photo back to the catalog later, you can do so by re-importing it.

    Deleting Photos from Disk

    If you want to permanently delete a photo both from the Lightroom catalog and your computer, you can choose to delete from disk:

    1. Select the Photo(s) to Delete: Select the photos in the Library module as described above.
    2. Choose to Delete: Press the 'Delete' key on your keyboard or right-click and choose 'Remove Photo(s)'.
    3. Confirm Deletion: Lightroom will ask you if you want to remove the photo(s) from the catalog or delete them from disk. Choose 'Delete from Disk' to permanently delete the photo files.

    Be careful with this option, as it permanently deletes your original photo files. Make sure you have backups or no longer need the photos before choosing to delete from disk.

    Deleting Rejected Photos

    Lightroom allows you to flag photos as 'Rejected', which can be useful for managing large collections. If you've flagged photos you don't want to keep, you can delete all rejected photos at once:

    ic: Rejected photos are greyed out and have a black flag with an X

    Flag Photos as Rejected: In the Library module, select a photo and press 'X' on your keyboard to flag it as rejected. The photo will get a black flag icon.

    ic:All photos selected for deletion are displayed and you have to option to remove them from the catalog or delete them entirely.

    Choose to Delete Rejected Photos: After flagging photos, navigate to 'Photo > Delete Rejected Photos' - or hit Command <Delete>.
    Confirm Deletion: Lightroom will ask you to confirm that you want to delete the rejected photos. Click 'Delete from Disk' to permanently delete the photos, or 'Remove' to only remove them from the catalog.


      Deleting photos in Lightroom can help maintain a clean and efficient library. Whether you're simply removing photos from the catalog or permanently deleting them from your computer, Lightroom provides a straightforward process. However, it's important to handle deletion carefully to avoid removing photos you may want to keep. Make sure to back up your photos regularly and double-check your selections before confirming deletion.

      Additionally, remember that Lightroom's strength lies in its organization features. Making use of flags, ratings, and color labels can make managing your photo collection much more manageable. If you're unsure whether to delete a photo, consider simply flagging it as 'Rejected'. This way, it's out of sight during your regular workflow, but you can still review these photos later if your needs or preferences change.

      Deleting photos can be a crucial part of your workflow in Lightroom, helping to declutter your workspace and focus on your best shots. Just make sure to be deliberate in your decisions, and you'll maintain a well-organized and efficient photo library.

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