How To Delete Photos In Lightroom (With Pictures)

How To Delete Photos In Lightroom

Whether you’re running out of space or wanting to keep things organized, deleting photos from Lightroom is important. Since you’re not going to want every photo you import, deleting any “bad” images is a great way to streamline your folders. So how can you delete a photo from Lightroom?

To delete a photo from Lightroom, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the photo you want to delete to select it.
  2. Go to Photo > Remove Photo.
  3. Choose to delete your photo from your disk or just from Lightroom
  4. Now your photo has been deleted!

The process of deleting photos is simple. However, if you need to delete a large number of photos at once, there are some additional steps to make the process easier. Let’s go over some of these methods to help make deleting photos as painless as possible.

How To Delete Multiple Photos

Odds are, you’ll need to delete multiple photos at once from your Lightroom catalog. Rather than going through and deleting every photo individually, you can speed up the process with one of two options.

Option 1: Setting Rejects To Delete

While you’re sorting through your photos, setting your unwanted photos as rejects is one of the best ways for deleting photos. Rather than having to remember which ones you wanted to delete, reject images will be stored together and can be removed simultaneously. Here’s how to do it.

First, you can set an unwanted image as a reject by pressing X on your keyboard. Alternatively, you can right-click on the image and choose Set Flag > Rejected.

You’ll know your photo is rejected by the flag icon with the X inside of it in the top left corner. The photo will also become semi-opaque making it easier to spot among other photos.

After going through your entire Lightroom folder and setting the photos you want to delete as rejects, it’s time to filter them. To view only your rejected photos, click on the reject flag icon above your filmstrip.

Now all your images will be filtered so you can only see the rejected images. Go through them and double-check these are all images you want to delete.

If you change your mind and want to keep a certain photo, click on it and press U to remove the flag on the image.

With your images sorted as rejects, it’s time to delete them. Go up to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos.

A dialogue box will appear asking whether you want to delete from the disk or remove from Lightroom.

If you choose to delete from disk, your photos will be removed from Lightroom, and deleted from your hard drive. If you want to permanently delete a photo, this is the option to choose.

On the other hand, remove from Lightroom will only delete the rejected pictures from your Lightroom catalog. They will still be saved and remain untouched on your hard drive. This option is better if you still want the photo saved to your computer.

After picking either option, your photo will be deleted from Lightroom and will no longer be available in your catalog. Success!

Option 2: Manually Selecting Multiple Photos From Lightroom

If you’re not into culling through photos and setting rejects, you can manually select multiple photos to delete. This is most easily done in the Library Module where you can see all of your photos in one place.

However, you can also use your filmstrip to select photos to delete as well.

As I shared in a previous post on how to select multiple photos in Lightroom, you can hold Command or Control and click on images to select them. This way you can select a random series of images with ease.

After you’ve selected the photos you want to delete, go to Photo > Remove Selected Photos.

Once again, you’ll be faced with the option to delete from disk or just remove from Lightroom. Select your desired option and your selected photos will be deleted from Lightroom.

How To Permanently Delete Photos In Lightroom

To permanently delete a photo in Lightroom, you need to also remove it from your disk. This way your image will no longer exist in your Lightroom catalog or your computer’s hard drive. Whether you’re selecting one photo or multiple photos, most deleting options in Lightroom give the prompt to delete from disk.

By choosing the Delete Photo, Delete Selected Photos, or Delete Rejected Photos, you’ll have the option to permanently delete photos from your disk.

This will save you a ton of time by completely getting rid of a photo all at once. Otherwise, you’d have to go back into your hard drive, later on, find the photos you want to delete and do it all manually. With the help of Lightroom, you can speed up the process.

If you’re not using older images, deleting old photos from your Lightroom catalog and hard drive is a great way to save storage on your computer.

Deleting photos will also help to reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog which can heavily affect computers with slower specs.

Understanding The Different Delete Options 

You have a few different delete options to choose from in Lightroom. Here’s what each of them do to help you understand which one to use and when.

– Remove Photos

The remove photo option is meant for deleting a single selected photo. Just by clicking on an image and choosing the Delete Photo option, Lightroom will quickly get rid of it.

– Remove Selected Photos

This deleting option is meant for deleting multiple photos you’ve selected. This option doesn’t care whether an image is flagged or starred, all it cares about is that an image is selected. If you prefer manually selecting multiple photos to delete, this option will be your go-to.

– Remove Photos From Catalog

If you don’t want to completely delete a photo from your computer, but don’t want it in Lightroom, this is your best option. With this deletion method, you won’t be prompted to delete the photo from your disk. Instead, it will only delete your selected photos from Lightroom but leave them untouched in their original storage location.

– Delete Rejected Photos

The delete rejected photo option only applies if you’re going through your folder and flagging images as rejects. If you don’t have any rejects, then this option will not work. The advantage of using the rejects method is that you have a fail-safe in case you accidentally select the wrong photo. By flagging and deleting rejects only, it’s easier to make sure you’re getting rid of the right files.

Keyboard Shortcuts For Deleting Photos From Lightroom

To help speed up the process, there are a series of easy keyboard shortcuts for deleting photos from Lightroom.

Remove Photo: DELETE KEY

Remove Selected Photos: SHIFT + DELETE KEY

Remove Photos From Catalog: ALT + DELETE (PC) or OPTION + DELETE (MAC)

Delete Rejected Photos: CONTROL + DELETE (PC) or COMMAND + DELETE (MAC)

If you ever forget the keyboard shortcuts for each option, you can find them labeled beside their corresponding option in the Photo panel.

How To Delete Folders From Your Lightroom Catalog

Now so far you’ve learned how delete photos from Lightroom, but what if you want to get rid of an entire folder? Rather than deleting all the photos within a folder, you’ll need to delete the folder itself to get rid of it in the Folders panel.

Luckily, it’s extremely easy to do. Just right click on the folder you want to remove and select Remove.

This will remove the folder from your Lightroom catalog, but keep everything untouched on your hard drive. Deleting folders is useful to streamline certain Lightroom catalogs and eliminate any unused or missing folders.

Learning how to delete photos and folders from Lightroom is easy and the steps are very straightforward. By staying on top of your files and deleting images frequently, you’ll keep every catalog and folder more organized. After all, better organization equals less stress and a more streamlined workflow.

And who wouldn’t want that?

Happy Editing!

– Brendan 🙂

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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