Deleting JPEG of Raw+JPEG Pairs


Today’s Question: In my early digital days, I set my cameras to save raw + JPEG. I’ve since stopped that, but my Lightroom Classic catalog contains lots of those pairs. Is there any reason I might need those JPEG files? And can you suggest a way to find and delete those presumed extraneous files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You more than likely don’t need to keep the JPEG images that were part of a Raw+JPEG pair. However, there isn’t really an easy way to remove them all without manually reviewing the images.

More Detail: In my view you don’t need to retain the JPEG images from Raw+JPEG pairs unless you had applied adjustments in the camera that you want to be able to reference. Those adjustments would not be applied to the raw capture.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to remove the JPEG images without the risk of accidentally deleting JPEG images that weren’t part of a Raw+JPEG pair.

By default, Lightroom Classic will download the JPEG image for each Raw+JPEG pair, but won’t add the JPEG images to the catalog. If you had kept the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” checkbox turned off on the General tab of the Preferences dialog, the JPEG images will be in the applicable folders but not in the Lightroom Classic catalog.

In this situation you can right-click a folder and choose “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu. Turn on the “Import new photos” checkbox, and turn off the “Remove missing photos from catalog” and “Scan for metadata updates” checkboxes. There will be a number to the right of the first checkbox if there are actually images in the folder that aren’t in the catalog. Click Synchronize to import those photos. Then go to the “Previous Import” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module, which will contain the images just imported. Under ideal circumstances those will represent only the JPEG images that were excluded based on Raw+JPEG pairs, and can be deleted.

If the JPEG images had originally been imported along with the raw captuers you could sort by filename and scan to confirm that all JPEG images relate to a raw capture. If so, you can set a filter by file type for JPEG images and then select and delete them. I would perform this task one folder at a time, however.

There had been some plugins that purported to find the JPEG images from Raw+JPEG pairs, but the ones I’m familiar with have either not been updated recently or have gotten mixed reviews from photographers.