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What Is a Quick Way to Get Rid of Unused Images in Lightroom?

June 27th, 2018

Andrew in Massachusetts asks:

A raw files storage question: I shoot many bracketed photos at each property. This gives me the option to use HDR on certain photos and to optimize exposure in general. The problem is the proliferation of raw files–a real storage problem. On a larger property, I may narrow down 160 shots to just 30 finished images. I would like to save for the future all the raw files that are linked to the images I processed and exported, but discard the unused and unlinked raw files. Is there a simple way of just eliminating those raw files that were edited or used in HDR (Lightroom HDR)? The only way I have found is to laboriously go through each array of images and eliminate all images that do not have editing symbols in the lower right corner.

As you go through your workflow deciding which images from the shoot you are going to use, mark the unused images rejected as shown in the video above. After you’ve finished your HDR processing and finishing, delete all the rejected images.

I don’t think there is a way to automatically delete all your unprocessed images. I could be wrong. Does anyone else have suggestions?

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12 Responses to “What Is a Quick Way to Get Rid of Unused Images in Lightroom?”

  • I rate all of the images I deliver and tend to keep them for a while. To quickly get rid of the other images in that file I change the filter designation to “Unrated” and I select all of them (cmd +a) while in the Library module. Then I check the rejected flag which flags them all since they’re all selected. Then right click, then “remove photos,” then “Delete from Disk.”

    I don’t traditionally use HDR so I’m not sure if what I described above will work how you need it to work.

  • The movie was quite menu intensive with the whole ‘rejected’ theme, and am hesitant to leave unmarked as occasionally a desired photo intending to deliver isn’t in the final group and find it as the sole unmarked that apparently skipped. Prefer to take proactive action as a smaller part of my overall scheme. Looking at the larger picture, have a master folder of year for all RE jobs in subfolders. That way, once a year, I can remove then enmass from ligthtoom catalog (leaving on hard drive) then transfer the entire year (like 2016 photos) from the active hard drive to an archive drive. That is the large picture. More to the point, when initially review assign a stat to each photo. 1 star = trash to delete; 2 = misc; 3 = masking pairs with result re-classified to 5 star, 4 star = tour pano sequence, 5 star = intended delivery. When finished, easy enough to sort equal to 1 star, select all and delete from Lightroom and disk. Likewise with 3 stars. If delay, will also work with the massive year folder as it will select all the 1 stars in all the subfolders.

  • I do something similar to Jennifer. I usually do a limited set of brackets for an HDR backup plan just in case I need it, and also to have some options for my ambient layer. I sometimes take more than one flash shot as well depending on the circumstances. When I’m processing each final image, I star the ones I end up using for my flambient and then put three stars on the final image. If I do an HDR, I simply put 3 stars on the final image and leave the brackets un rated. When I’m ready to “clean up” my disk, I simply do what Jennifer does, filter all of the unrated and delete them from the disk. Unless the house has some potential future portfolio or “behind the scenes” value, I eventually go back and just filter out all but the 3 star images as well. I don’t usually do this right away, but by following this workflow, it’s very easy to go back and eliminate unneeded files.

  • Don’t import everything on your card into LR. Just the ones you’re going to use. When your done editing, there really isn’t any reason to keep the original RAW files. It’s doubtful they would ever be useful again, and that you’d even be inclined to re-edit the same material.

    🙂 Don’t be a hoarder.

  • You actually don’t have to go through all of the filtering steps that was shown in that video. Flag the images that I don’t use as rejected. When you are ready to delete the rejected images just go to Photo->Delete Rejected Photos. That does the filtering for you. Even easier is to use the keyboard shortcut of Cntl->Backspace.

  • I import everything from the card unless the first few images are useless set up images. I process the low hanging fruit first by finding the images that only take a light touch to finish and award those 3 stars after quickly completing them. I then go through the other compositions and award frames I will use in post with 1 star. I sort for all 3 star images in Library and arrange them in a logical sequence. Once sequenced, I export them to previously prepared folders to compress and deliver to the client. If I noticed any images that I think will be good portfolio material, those get 4 stars and are moved to my portfolio catalog. Any images remaining with no stars I might purge later on before archiving. I don’t delete the 0 star image immediately unless they are completely useless in case the customer asks for a re-edit. There might be an exposure that could be useful.

    Drives are so cheap these days that the time spent in deleting images isn’t worth it. I have a workflow that lets me do it fairly easily, but that workflow is more to allow me to work efficiently to deliverable images rather than culls. My big tip is to keep your eyes peeled for NOS hard drives that are 500g to 1Tb or even smaller. The smaller drives are often being blown out since most people are buying 3tb+ hard drives and SSD’s. The small drives are great for archives/backups, both on and off-site. I picked up a stack of 158Gb drives that I have been working through as archive drives. At $2ea, I’ve been pretty happy with the purchase. They hold about a year’s worth of jobs for me.

  • Keep it simple.

    I process the images I am going to keep, then export them (as PSD’s) to a folder named for the client with the property address. Once I’m done with all the images I close Lightroom and do not use the backup function.

    I have all the images I want from the shoot in a file named for the client/property address. Simple, quick, easy.

  • Lightroom lets you filter images by Edited / Unedited. In the Library module Grid view, go to the Library Filter at the top (backslash key “\” turns filter bar on/off), click Metadata; then click one of the four column header names, select Edit from the drop-down list, and voila — that filter now lets you select Edited or Unedited.

    More on Filtering here: http://www.adobepress.com/articles/article.asp?p=1930493&seqNum=4

  • This is almost exactly what Lightroom excels at – managing your images. After you have finished your normal processing, just follow these simple steps:
    1) Flag the 30 or so shots you want to keep (just press the “P” key for “pick”)
    2) Go to the Library/Grid view and at the top of the grid select the “Metatdata” drop down & highlight “Flagged” in any one of the columns
    3) Choose the “unflagged” option & it will filter out those 30 or so “picked” photos and only leave the unflagged photos showing
    4) Press Command+A (on Mac) to select all the photos (it’s only selecting all of the unflagged photos)
    5) Right click and select Remove Photo – when prompted be sure to choose Permanently Delete from Disk – not just remove from library (that would just leave them on the hard drive but remove them from the library).

  • I do this all the time in bridge, although i regret it half the time i do delete my raw images. You can sort adjusted/non adjusted then just select and delete.

  • All I do is hit X for rejects on the first pass. I go through the images a second time, then move the images I want into an edit folder. I then delete the rejected images and that is that done.

    This does not have to be complicated.

    Rick McEvoy ABIPP – https://rickmcevoyphotography.com/

  • I actually do not delete my RAW files. I just bulk select them at the end of the month and do a “Convert to DNG” and choose lossy compression.

    The bigger problem is TIFF files. After sending to PS as layers and saving back…you get a large TIFF file. If you do not merge the layers prior to saving…it is larger. If you are set up to export to PS in 16-bit mode vs 8-bit mode….it is larger still. If your camera is shooting 24mp files or larger…God help you.

    I have found TIFF files 350mb in size. A third of a gig for one file.

    My solution is to filter in Lightroom to show the TIFF files only that reside in the previous moth’s folder. Then select all and delete from disk.

    I do not have to worry because I have already exported the full-resolution files at 100% in JPG and have no need for the TIFFs any longer. I find that I claw back about 300gigs per month with this method.

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