I imported some 2000 photos into Lightroom 5 on the Mac, and then removed most of the ones in them, bringing it down to 40 photos. I did this by selecting photos I didn't like, pressing the Delete button and selecting Remove (not Delete From Disk). These removed photos are still on the filesystem, taking up 30 GB. How do I move them into the Trash on the Mac? I want to permanently delete them.

I thought Lightroom has its own trash bin, and an Empty Trash option, like iPhoto does, but it doesn't seem to.

Is there a simpler workflow to use here? I want to go through my collection, remove files I don't want, press Cmd-Z to undo a remove if I accidentally removed something and, when I'm all done, permanently delete the removed files. Is there a simpler workflow for this that I can adopt in the future? Thanks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are two questions here, "How do i move deleted photos?" and "Is there a simpler workflow to use here?" I think Itai has successfully answered the first question and there are a lot of other posts and many books that answer the second one (check out how and why to use Flags). I highly recommend Scott Kelby's books on Lightroom. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2013 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I split the "workflow" part into its own question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/45199/… \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2013 at 5:50

2 Answers 2


The problem is that Lightroom does not know about these images, so it cannot do anything about it. Essentially you want to know which photos are not in Lightroom. I have no idea how to do that but I think this will work:

From Lightroom, select the folder or tree where these photos are and synchronize it. It will popup the import dialog, just continue the import as usual. As an extra precaution add a keyword during import, something like "DELETE_ME_AGAIN".

Once done, all these photos should appear under the Previous Import folder. From there see if you can do a Delete From Disk. If not, go to the library view and do it from there by selecting all images matching the "DELETE_ME_AGAIN" keyword.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Also may want to temporarily tag the photos that you want to keep prior to the import so that if, for some reason, it tags all photos in the folder on import, then there's still a way to select just the keepers/deleters. \$\endgroup\$
    – tenmiles
    Nov 13, 2013 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, Itai, tenmiles and AJ. This solved my immediate problem. Is there a simpler workflow you suggest to avoid this in the future? "Reject" doesn't seem to work for me because, as I understand, it still shows the rejected photo in the list as I press the previous and next buttons. Moving each photo you like, or don't like, to a folder or applying a tag seems onerous to do compared to pressing Delete, when you have thousands of photos. Is there a simpler delete workflow? Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2013 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KartickVaddadi these previous questions might help you further. If not, feel free to post a new question instead of asking it in a comment. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2013 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I find Lightroom slow, although I am still using 4.x. What I do is use Geeqie (Linux) or PM View Pro (Windows) to go very quickly over the images and delete first. These are the fastest viewing software I know of (except for the I built which belongs to my ex-employer), so I delete everything from there. That way, Lightroom is only busy importing photos that are worth it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Nov 14, 2013 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of completeness, I asked the second question here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/45199/… \$\endgroup\$ Nov 26, 2013 at 5:48

You needed to use the Delete From Disk option. You removed your reference to the images in Lightroom and it now has no more idea about them than it does about your Word documents and internet browsing history.

One thing you could do since you have so few images is you could make a new folder, drag the photos to keep in to that folder in the Library view (which will move the files on disk to the new folder.) After confirming they have been moved to the new folder, you can simply delete the contents of the previous folder by hand and then move the images back in Lightroom. Note that this will only work if all the files in that folder other than the ones in Lightroom should be deleted.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, AJ. I chose to go with keywords, as Itai suggested, but I understand I could just as well use folders. In any case, what workflow would you suggest for me to avoid this problem in the future, and which is quick to use, as I explained in my comment on Itai's answer above? Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2013 at 6:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KartickVaddadi - see the first line of my post. You need to use the Delete From Disk option when you choose to delete it. It will prompt you with three choices in lightroom. Cancel, Leave On Disk and Delete from disk. Choose the option that says it will delete from disk in the future if you want the image file gone as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Nov 14, 2013 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought that Delete from Disk doesn't let me Cmd-Z to undo. When I'm sorting through hundreds or a couple of thousand photos, I sometimes accidentally delete a photo and Cmd-Z it. I need a workflow that lets me recover from errors this way, and finally confirm that "yes, I want the photos that I marked as deleted really deleted". Note that I tend not to mark the ones I like, but reject the ones I don't like. But Lightroom's Reject doesn't work for me since I want it to disappear from the list when I Reject something. I need a way to "delete" a photo from LR but Cmd-Z to undo. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15, 2013 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KatrickVaddadi - Enable the filtering on your catalog and check the Picks and unmarked. Leave Rejected unselected and Lightroom will automatically hide the images as soon as you reject. Then you can just delete from disk all rejects when you are done (just invert the filter and select them all). That's actually exactly how I do it if I'm actually deleting rejects on a project. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Nov 15, 2013 at 14:11

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