Deleting Outtakes En Masse


Today’s Question: I have a fundamental question. I’ve accumulated some 350,000 photos over the past 10 or so years. Many of the photos are missing in my Lightroom Classic catalog. I’d like to take the admittedly drastic step of trashing all photos with no star ratting, around 300k shots in all. Is there a master set of commands that can facilitate my doing this even where the program has lost track of the location of many of the photos without the tedious step of having to first track them down?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you’re confident you want to delete all photos without a star rating, you could simply go to the “All Photographs” collection, set a filter based on no star rating, select all of the photos based on that filter, and delete them.

More Detail: I too have been contemplating a strategy for going back and deleting older outtake photos, since my Lightroom Classic catalog currently contains over 400,000 photos. The key question here is whether you’re confident that deleting a very large number of photos based on specific attributes won’t result in losing photos you’d prefer to keep.

For example, as noted above you could certainly delete every single photo in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog that doesn’t have a star rating assigned to it, all in a single process. For me, and I suspect many other photographers, this would not be a good solution. That’s because over the years I have most certainly neglected to review all of the photos in my catalog. So, I most certainly would have some photos without a star rating that I definitely prefer to keep.

That said, if you have been diligent about reviewing photos, or you embark on that process now so you are confident all “keepers” have a star rating, you can most certainly delete all outtakes in a single process.

First, you would want to be sure you are browsing all photos in your entire Lightroom Classic catalog. Start by selecting the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section at the top of the left panel in the Library module. Then switch to the grid view display (you can press “G” on the keyboard to do so) and if you don’t see the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view press the backslash key (\) to reveal it.

You can then select the particular criteria you want to use to filter the images. For example, in this case you could choose Attribute so you can filter by star rating. To the right of the Rating label click the symbol that appears (such as the “greater than or less than” symbol) to bring up a popup where you can select “Rating is equal to”. To the right of that, make sure no stars are illuminated, which indicates a zero-star rating. If any stars are illuminated, click on the right-most of the illuminated stars to remove that star rating, resulting in a zero-star rating filter.

Once you have established a filter based on the criteria for the images you want to delete, you can choose Edit > Select All from the menu in order to select all images that meet the filter criteria. You can then choose Photo > Remove Photos from the menu. In the confirmation dialog that appears, you can click the “Delete from Disk” button so the source image files will be deleted in addition to being removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog.