Lightroom Tips

Tip – Deleting the easy way

Bonjour! Today’s my last day in Paris but I wanted to leave you with a quick tip for the weekend that I use myself all the time. By the way, thanks to anyone who sent me a message about where to shoot in Paris. I got some great ideas and even met up with a local NAPP member which was awesome (more on that next week). Anyway, the tip…

Last night I was going through my photos and whenever I come across one to delete (which happens a lot for me 😉 ) I always press the X key to flag it as a reject. Then, almost as if it’s second nature, I go to the Photo menu and choose Delete Rejected Photos. But I realized the other week at one of my seminars that quite a few people hadn’t seen that one so that’s your tip. Flag your photos as rejects first. That keeps you from having to answer the “Are you sure you want to delete” question multiple times. Then, when you’re done, just go to Photo > Delete Rejected Photos and remove them all at once. I delete from the hard drive too, not just the catalog. If they’re rejects that means I want them gone forever.

Have a great weekend everyone!



  1. William 12 August, 2017 at 01:56 Reply

    Brilliant Stuff Scott new to Lightroom.
    And have 1300 images to full. May have to get a trial of Photo Mechanic which I hear is useful and quicker for culling tham LR.
    But your tip is awesome and I won’t forget it
    Blessings always
    Keep them coming

    • tori 5 September, 2017 at 12:57 Reply

      Hi all,
      So I understand how to remove photos from a collection. My question is how to delete a photo from disk once the photo is already in a collection. Even when I mark a photo as a Reject then go to Photo>Delete Rejected Photos it still asks me if I want to remove from collection. Thanks!

    • Kim Heaslip 1 October, 2017 at 18:53 Reply

      Thanks so much!!!!! Lightroom should have a function for a choice right up front in collections (otherwise, why have collections???!!–I use collections to cull down my photos!!). Notwithstanding, I’m using your solution!

  2. Dominic Reich 26 December, 2016 at 06:43 Reply

    Thank you very much – that will save me a lot of time (I’m going through an old archive with around 3000 pics).

  3. Mark 6 August, 2016 at 21:33 Reply

    Hey guys sorry to comment on an old post but I was wondering if you could help me – when I import to LR I import my Raws to 2 separate hard drives. When I come to delete various Raws via Lightroom, how can I control which hard drive the file is deleted from? Ideally they’d be removed from both.

  4. David 29 May, 2016 at 13:03 Reply

    Many thanks for this great tip been deleting for couple of days but found this saved me hours of deleting

  5. Chris 28 April, 2016 at 06:23 Reply

    THANK YOU FOR SAVING HOURS OF MY LIFE!!!!!! by answer the question of how to delete multiple images in LR> THANK YOU THANK YOU thank you!!!!!!!

  6. Jenica 17 January, 2015 at 19:05 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I’m wondering if there is an easy way to delete rejected photos that are in a collection and not in a folder. I’ve only been able to go one by one on the rejects and right click to “go to folder in library” then delete the photo from there. With a library of over 25,000 images, this is going to take forever! I really hope there is a secret shortcut that I don’t know about. Thank you in advance!

    • matt 26 May, 2015 at 13:57 Reply

      Jenica- When in collection, mark with “X” as reject. Then Photo>delete rejected photos. That deletes them from the collection. Then click (on the left) under catalogue>all photographs. Now select Photo>delete rejected photos again. It will now prompt you asking if you want to delete them from disk. That will remove them entirely.

    • ANdy 11 August, 2015 at 09:41 Reply

      I have a smart collection set up with Flag=Rejected, then can just delete them all from there when I’m done, even if it’s from multiple other collections

    • Morgan Bellinger 24 August, 2016 at 17:42 Reply

      on a mac, use alt/option + delete a photo from disk while it’s selected in a collection. I haven’t tried it, but you probably have to be in Library grid mode to delete multiples with this technique.

  7. Roy McKeag 13 August, 2014 at 05:03 Reply

    Hey Matt. When I Import I automatically create a copy of the image into a Backup directory using the checkbox option on Import. However when I Delete files (from disk) they are only deleted from the original directory and not the Backup directory.

    I had a clearout over the last few days from one catalogue and deleted (from the catalogue and disk) 4,500 images but these images are all taking up space in the Backup directory. How do I ‘delete from disk’ to also include the Backup directory?

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks


    • Matt K 14 August, 2014 at 09:55 Reply

      Hi Roy. You can’t. Once Lightroom does the Backup, it forgets about it. There’s no way to sync the two so it’s up to you to make sure the original and backup drives are synced.

      • Roy 14 August, 2014 at 10:12 Reply

        Thanks Matt. I will change my backup procedure accordingly and just use the checkbox on Import directory as a temp until the weekly full backup is taken. Thanks again for your help and the release of a large amount of disk space! 🙂


      • Sue 26 January, 2017 at 14:31 Reply

        Hi Matt
        I have the same problem as Roy. I have a ton of copies that where put in the backup folder on import. How do I get rid of the copies I have unchecked the create a copy on import. I think this has taken up some room on my computer

  8. NikFromNYC 2 August, 2014 at 23:13 Reply

    Two years later and Lightroom STILL won’t let you just force delete a picture?! Yet everybody is so terribly happy about a workaround for an evil program that won’t let you delete a damn photo without a confirmation dialog box?! My word, you can hardly see the damn ‘x’ marks. And that’s silly. Just silly. I just want to NUKE THE BAD CRAP, in a single DEL key press. Give me an undo, O.K., but not every time either a silly emergency dialog box or some stupid ‘x’ mark think where I must LEAVE IN my bad photos indefinitely as I scan through them.


    I know, I know, my own brother teaches Photoshop for a living. He won’t answer either. Seems to be that all you trainers just love these little user interface passive-aggressive rules of the game.

    • Matt K 3 August, 2014 at 09:32 Reply

      Man, you’ve got some anger toward this one 🙂
      I don’t know many programs that will let you delete without confirming that you want to delete. It’s not like it’s 5 extra steps, so it’s not something I think will ever change. Now, breathe deep 😉

  9. Jeremy 3 June, 2011 at 14:00 Reply

    So, how do I reconcile images that were X’d and removed from a collection, but inadvertently left in the Catalog???

    For example, images were imported and moved to a Quick Collection where they were X’d or P’d. However, when it came time to completely delete the images from the disk (and hence, the Quick Collection and Catalog), and I went to Photo | Delete Rejected Photos, the dialog said “Remove” and working quickly, I accepted.

    However, the images are still on the disk and in the catalog… is there a way to hunt them down without having to go through the entire X and P process over again???


  10. David 15 April, 2011 at 15:23 Reply

    Great tip man. Any trick that increases efficiency and let’s me spend less time in front of the computer is a winner in my book. Thanks!

  11. Ritvik Dhavale 24 March, 2011 at 03:25 Reply

    This is an amazing shot! 😀

    I heard about the picture from the grid… 🙂

    This is really amazing!

  12. Gab 24 March, 2011 at 01:37 Reply

    i knew this tip since i play with LR but for the first time i have a problem: i imported a 2-days shooting in 2 folders, made my selection out of the first one and all worked seamlessly but on the second folder the cmd+del shortcut simply activates the filter to show rejected photos and the del key only works on one photo at a time, not all the rejected ones together
    what happened? does anyone know if there is any option i turned on accidentally?

    thanks everyone

  13. Richard Davis 23 March, 2011 at 11:41 Reply

    Loved your comment on deleting from the disk at your recent Houston workshop – along the lines of how often do you think you’re going to want to look at that blurry, poorly exposed, badly composed image. While I still use star ratings and labels to manage my stock photos, learning to let go and DELETE the rejects has done wonders to speed up my production workflow. Thanks for evangelizing this!

    • Ross Dillon 21 March, 2011 at 23:11 Reply

      Pretty sure that it deletes all rejected photos…in my case on a Mac with no Apple key, I use command-del to kill all rejected photos.

    • Ron Putnam 22 March, 2011 at 13:45 Reply

      Julian, it should only apply to the folder you are in. The folder structure I use is main folders of Year and sub-folders by Date, so if I’m only in the specific date (03-22-11) then it only applies to that folder, if I’m in the year (2010) then it will apply to all sub-folders within that year. Hope that helps.

  14. Tombr75 21 March, 2011 at 09:49 Reply

    Bonjour Mat,

    Profite bien de Paris, le temps est magnifique, c’est un parfait moment pour faire de belles photos!

    Hope to see your pictures soon,


  15. JayM 18 March, 2011 at 14:19 Reply

    Matt, I’m terribly envious of your being in Paris. My wife and I had the good fortune to be there last summer (along with Nice, Cannes, Monaco and Eze) and it was amazing. As to your point of where to shoot, I would suggest… everywhere! Hard to miss. I have hundreds of images that I still need to work through and put into a book. I hope you are more diligent than me in getting that done.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels.


    • JayM 18 March, 2011 at 14:27 Reply

      PS. I have used this deleting technique right from the original launch of Lightroom and it’s a staple in my workflow to this day. X the stinkers out of the gate and toss ’em as a batch before doing anything else. Although lately for bigger imports I’ve actually been experimenting with this at the import dialogue, removing the check for the photos that suck so they’re not even brought into the Library in the first place. This offers a couple of advantages:

      1. No rendering time to zoom in as you are viewing the JPEG previews (just keep in mind you’ll get better sharpness off the RAW). Even more noticeable when you’re working on a slower machine.

      2. Faster import time as fewer photos coming in, particularly if you’re also backing up simultaneously.

      3. No gaps in the sequence numbers (one less step if you routinely batch rename after deleting). Which also means that the imported filenames jive with the backup files.

      Downside is that you might inadvertently toast an image that could have been recovered in RAW, or may be sharper than you think. Just keep that in mind with images that are on the margin. Also, if you’ve made it through most of your unchecking in the import dialogue and things crash (or you’ve started the import and it crashes midway) all your time has been wasted your picks/neglects won’t be remembered and you’ll have to do ‘er all over again.

  16. John Tannock 18 March, 2011 at 10:54 Reply

    RE: using the X key for rejects. I’ve been using the X key as my “reject tool” forever. Once I’ve edited and X’d the ones I don’t want, I hit the G key to get into Grid mode then at the top of that panel select attributes, click on the X flag to show ONLY the rejects. Then Control A selects them all and I hit the Delete key on the keyboard and ‘Remove from Disc’ as the final selection. I’ve found it to be the fastest way to edit. there’s no need to select keepers by hitting the P key as anything not X’d IS as keeper. If I have some that I want marked for additonal use I just hit the B key and put them in a quick collection until I’m done editing.
    I hope some find this useful and faster than what they’re presently doing and keep in mind, ‘There are 101 ways to do everything Adobe!’

  17. Phil Shaw 18 March, 2011 at 10:35 Reply

    Just remember that you can’t actually delete photos from collections. You have to go to a folder where the photo is stored or go up to the top level “library” folder before LR will let you actually delete a photo. Also, if you have your photos stacked, it does not delete the one photo in the stack marked for rejection until you expand the stack.

  18. Patti 18 March, 2011 at 09:29 Reply

    On a PC you can right mouse click on the photo(s) and choose “delete photo” – you still have to choose between delete from disk or catalog, but it’s very quick.

  19. Patti 18 March, 2011 at 09:27 Reply

    On a PC you can right mouse click on the photo and choose “delete photo” – you still have to choose between delete from disk or catalog, but it’s very quick.

  20. Mark 18 March, 2011 at 08:23 Reply

    I use X for rejecting files but I sometimes keep some of them for a while (until the editing is all finished after which I zap them) in case I need to use anything from that part of the shoot. I drag them into a “rejected” folder (you could use a collection but I use a folder). I’ve noticed that if I select them all and delete it takes ages to do so. If I select them all and *remove* them that is a faster action. It works out much faster to open the folder in explorer and delete the contents and remove the files from Lightroom than it is to delete the files directly from Lightroom in one go. (This is on PC.)

  21. Remek 18 March, 2011 at 07:24 Reply

    exactly, as Mike wrote.

    I do use a filter, though. Not to see the rejects, but rather to not see them! As soon as I hit ‘x’ they disappear from the grid view, and then, periodically I hit CTRL-backspace. Love that.

  22. Michael Goulding 18 March, 2011 at 07:06 Reply

    Actually you don’t need to apply a filter at all. All you have to do is when you are looing in your library after hitting ‘X’ for your rejects and you’re ready to delete them, just hit ctrl+backspace and it applies the filter itself and asks you to confirm. Hit delete from disk and all done, just like that!!

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