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How to Delete a Photo in Lightroom

Every photographer wishes they could get an award-winning shot every time, but the reality of life is sometimes you end up with blurry, poorly composed, or poorly lit photos. Although it is a simple task, there are a variety of different features in Adobe Lightroom that can help you to cull down your photos. Deleting photos in Lightroom will speed up your workflow, as you spend less time looking at the photos you don’t like, and more time looking at the ones you do.

We’ll cover how to mass delete photos in Lightroom Classic, how to mass individual photos, and how to speed up your photo deleting workflow.

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How To Delete A Photo In Lightroom & Understanding The Different Deletion Options

The most basic way to delete a photo in lightroom is to just select and delete it.

  • Select your image in either the grid or the filmstrip and go to Photo > Remove Photo. This will bring up the option to either delete from your disk or delete from lightroom (we’ll cover what these options mean shortly).

Alternatively, for a quicker method to individually delete a photo:

  • Use the Lightroom’s Delete Photo shortcut CMD + Option + Shift + Delete (Mac) / CTRL + ALT+ Shift + Delete (Win) to delete the photo from your disk.
  • Use Option/Alt + Shift + Delete to delete the photo from your Lightroom catalog.

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Deleting From Disk vs Deleting From Lightroom

When you ask Lightroom to delete a photo, often it will give you the option to ‘delete from disk’ or ‘delete from lightroom/catalog’. This can be confusing if you don’t know what these mean.

Simply put, when you delete a photo from your disk, you are erasing it from your computer. This means you will no longer be able to find it in Lightroom, or on your computer. Use this method for photos you know you will never want to see again. Deleting from disk can help prevent your computer from becoming clogged up with large, useless photos. 

When you delete a photo from the catalog, you are only deleting it from Lightroom, so you will be able to find it on your computer if you need to. This can be good if you have a photo you would like to keep, but don’t want to edit in Lightroom.

Remove photos from Lightroom Catalog

How To Delete Multiple Photos

Method 1: Delete Flagged Photos in Lightroom

Getting organized and categorizing your photos using Lightrooms flagging system is a useful skill that will speed up your workflow. Furthermore, it makes it easier to find and deal with photos you want to delete.

Step 1: Flag Your Photo As Rejected

To flag your photo as a rejected image, you can press X on your keyboard whilst viewing the image in Loupe mode, or you can right-click and go to Set Flag > Rejected

Set as Rejected in Lightroom

Step 2: Filter Images and Delete

You have two options for how to delete rejected photos in Lightroom:

  • Whilst in Grid View in the Library Module, filter using attribute setting and selecting the black flag. This will show only the photos flagged as rejected. Select All (CMD/CTRL + A) and press Delete.
  • Alternatively, go to the top menu bar and select Photo > Delete Rejected Photos (or press CMD/CTRL + Backspace).
    This will open a dialogue box asking you whether to delete images from disk or remove from lightroom, choose your preferred option to complete.
Filter rejected in Lightroom
Delete Rejected Photos

Method 2: Manual Selection

If you don’t want to flag multiple photos before deleting them, you can also manually select them in Lightroom and delete multiple photos.

Step 1: Select Photos

To select multiple photos in Lightroom hold down the CMD (Mac)/CTRL (Win) key and select each photo individually. This is easy to do whilst in grid view in the Library Module.

Manual selection LR

Step 2: Delete

To delete your selected photos, you can go to Photo > Remove Selected Photos. Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Delete

Remove Selected Photos in Lightroom

How to Recover Deleted Photos in Lightroom

If you accidentally deleted some of your photos in Lightroom, you can bring them back, but only if you have selected Delete from Catalog, whenever the dialog box prompts you when deleting photos. If you want to recover these photos, just go to the folder, they were stored in and right-click, and select Synchronize Folder

In the Synchronize Folder dialog make sure Import New Photos is ticked, and press Synchronize.

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How To Delete A Folder In Lightroom

What if you want to delete an entire folder of photos from Lightroom? You can easily delete the entire folder in Lightroom.

You should be able to find your folder on the left-hand toolbar of your lightroom interface. To delete, simply right-click on the folder and select ‘remove’. This will remove the folder from your Lightroom catalog. However, this will only delete the files from Lightroom. The photos will still remain on your hard drive.

Remove folder LR

Conclusion

Whether you prefer to use Lightroom’s delete rejected photos approach or delete images directly is up to you. We have covered the different methods so you know what they are.

We also covered how to delete photos from disk in Lightroom. Doing this will avoid your hard drive having a lot of images, that you forget about until you decide to synchronize your lightroom catalog and folders. You should now be very well equipped to keep your Lightroom catalog free from bad photos.

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