Image Delete Mystery

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Today’s Question: When I’m browsing an image that is included in a collection in Lightroom, sometimes I want to delete the image. Within the collection there is only an option to remove the image from the collection, not to delete it. How can I delete the photo, especially if I’m not even sure which folder it is in?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To delete a photo in this scenario you can first right-click on the image and choose “Go to Folder in Library”. Then right-click the image again, and choose Remove Photo. You can then confirm that you want to delete the photos from your hard drive within the dialog that appears.

More Detail: When you add a photo to a collection in Lightroom, you’re not actually creating a copy of the original image. Instead, you are creating a reference to the source image in the context of the collection. When you are browsing an image in a collection the “Remove from Collection” option replaces the “Remove Photo” command. You’ll therefore need to navigate to the source photo to delete the image.

To navigate to that source folder you can right-click on the applicable photo and then choose “Go to Folder in Library” from the popup menu. Lightroom will then take you to the source folder for the image, with the selected image remaining selected. You can then right-click on the image a second time and choose “Remove Photo” from the popup menu.

In the confirmation dialog, if you truly want to delete the image, I recommend choosing the “Delete from Disk”. Obviously if you decide you don’t actually want to delete the photos you could click the “Cancel” button. I don’t, however, recommend using the “Remove” option. If you click the Remove button, the selected image will be removed from the Lightroom catalog, but won’t actually be deleted from your hard drive. In other words, the image will still be taking up space on your drive, but you won’t really know the image is there because it is not referenced within your Lightroom catalog.

Note, by the way, that the “Go to Folder in Library” command can be incredibly helpful when you’re performing a search across your entire Lightroom catalog, and then want to navigate to the folder for a specific image you’ve located so you can view related images.