RAW+JPEG Disconnect

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Today’s Question: Somehow I must have messed with my camera settings, because when I shot some photos yesterday, I noticed in Lightroom that for each image I had RAW plus JPEG. I couldn’t figure out how to delete only the JPEGs. The nub of the problem is that in Lightroom only the RAW capture is visible. I finally did the unthinkable. I deleted the JPEGs from the operating system, and it worked just fine. How do you find the JPEGs in LR and how do you get rid of them?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case, deleting the JPEG images from the operating system was actually your only option, because they were not being managed in Lightroom. Your settings are such that Lightroom only imported the raw captures. The JPEG captures will have been copied to the same location, but not imported into your Lightroom catalog.

More Detail: By default, Lightroom will only import the raw capture for a RAW+JPEG set. The JPEG images will still be copied to the same folder location as the raw captures, but only the raw captures will actually be imported into your catalog. The idea is that the JPEG files are superfluous in the context of a Lightroom-based workflow.

So, since the JPEG images in this case are not being managed by Lightroom, you can safely remove the JPEG images from the hard drive through your operating system without any impact on your Lightroom catalog. Of course, you’ll want to exercise caution to make sure you are only deleting JPEG images that have a corresponding raw capture (they will have the same base filename), but that is relatively straightforward to watch for.

If you wanted to import the JPEG images along with the raw captures, you could turn on the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” checkbox on the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom. This would cause both the raw and the JPEG images to be imported into Lightroom if you import a set of photos captured with the RAW+JPEG option in the camera. In that case you could certainly filter by camera model and file format to remove the JPEG images without affecting the raw captures.

And, of course, you can turn off the RAW+JPEG feature so you are only capturing in the raw capture format, so that you don’t have this confusion in the future.