Clearing Storage Space

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Today’s Question: My computer is nearly full, mostly of photos. Is there an “easy” way in Lightroom [Classic] to blanket eliminate shots without using even more space in the process, when I have not marked the photos as special in some way?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you can filter the photos you want to delete, such as selecting all photos that don’t have a star rating at all, you can certainly delete the files in a batch process. Another option would be to assign a “Reject” flag to the photos you’d like to remove, and the use a quick command to delete all rejected photos.

More Detail: Lightroom provides a wide variety of options for filtering your photos, so if you want to delete a number of outtakes even though they weren’t marked as such, you still may be able to effectively filter the photos. For example, on the Library Filter Bar (View > Show Filter Bar from the menu) you can set a filter based on a variety of metadata criteria. For example, I mark photos with a red color label upon import, and remove that label once I’ve reviewed the photos. Therefore, if I set a filter for no red color label (meaning the photo has been reviewed already) and a star rating of zero stars (meaning I didn’t mark it as a “keeper”), then the photos are outtakes and could potentially be deleted.

After applying such a filter you could select all of the images by choosing Edit > Select All from the menu. You can then delete the selected photos by choosing Photo > Remove Photos from the menu. In the confirmation dialog that appears, just be sure to choose the “Remove from Disk” option so that the files will actually be removed from your hard drive, as well as being removed from your Lightroom catalog. Obviously you’ll want to be very careful with this approach overall, making sure you have filtered the images appropriately, and that you actually want to delete all of the photos based on the filter you applied.

Another option would be to review your photos and specifically add metadata to identify those that can be deleted. One option is to assign a Reject flag to such images, which you can do by pressing the letter “X” on the keyboard. You can even select multiple photos in the Grid view (but not in the Loupe view!) and then press “X” to add a Reject flag to all of the selected photos.

After marking photos with the Reject flag, you could choose the All Photographs collection from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Then go to the menu and choose Photo > Delete Rejected Photos. Once again you will want to use the “Delete from Disk” option to actually remove the photos from your hard drive rather than only removing them from your Lightroom catalog.

Keep in mind, of course, that it is also possible to move photos to a larger hard drive, such as an external drive you might use only for storing photos, with significant storage capacity. Just be sure that if you’re going to move photos (or folders) that are being managed by Lightroom that you actually do the work of moving the images within Lightroom.