Today’s Question: I recently bought software (Duplicate Cleaner Pro) for checking for duplicate Images, and found an abundance on several of my external drives. The software gives me the option of getting rid of all the duplicates outside of Lightroom, but my question is, how can I do this in a way that lets LR know what’s being deleted? Any other tips you might have for deleting duplicate images safely?
Tim’s Quick Answer: My recommendation is to first make sure there are no missing photos in your Lightroom catalog. Then remove duplicates from your hard drive, and remove the resulting missing photos from Lightroom.
More Detail: Lightroom unfortunately does not have a built-in feature for locating and removing duplicate images. Therefore, a third-party utility is necessary for this task. However, you certainly want to coordinate that task to keep your photos properly organized in Lightroom.
The first step is to make sure that you don’t have any missing photos in your Lightroom catalog, so you can use the “missing” status later to synchronize the removal of duplicates. Start by going to the Library module in Lightroom, and choosing Library > Find All Missing Photos from the menu. If there are any missing photos, they will be presented in a “Missing Photographs” collection under the Catalog heading on the left panel. Resolve those missing photos by reconnecting them to the source files, or by removing them from your Lightroom catalog.
Once you no longer have any missing photos in your Lightroom catalog, you can employ software to search for and remove duplicate photos on your hard drive. Once those duplicates are removed, you then want to update your Lightroom catalog to reflect the changes.
Because you know there were no photos missing from your Lightroom catalog when you initiated this process, you can now use that “missing” status to remove the duplicates that had been deleted outside of Lightroom. First, choose the Library > Find All Missing Photos command once again. Then, once you are in the “Missing Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel, select all of the missing photos by choosing Edit > Select All from the menu. Finally, choose Photo > Remove Photos from the menu.
At this point, all of the duplicate photos that had been removed from your hard drive will also be removed from your Lightroom catalog.