Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Deleting Rejected Photos from a Lightroom Collection

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3Part of my normal workflow when I first import my images from my memory card is to separate the "keepers" from the "sleepers" by setting the "Reject" flag on those I wish to delete.  When I've made my first pass, pressing "Ctrl + Backspace" provides the option to delete the rejected images from your disk.  Easy peasy.

What happens when you're later surfing through your various organized collections, however, and you find an a series of images you decide you probably should have deleted?  Well, my first instinct is to set them as rejects (Ctrl + Down Arrow or the "X" key) and then press Ctrl + Backspace like I normally do.  Unfortunately (in my opinion anyway), this does NOT have the same effect in a collection as it does in a folder.  These actions from within a collection only provide you with the option to remove the items from the collection, not delete them.   To further complicate the issue, images you flag as rejects within the collection DO NOT appear as rejects from the "All Photographs" catalog so you can't Ctrl + Backspace there either.

So what do you do?  The cleanest option I've found so far is to filter the collection to display only the rejects, select all and then delete.  Here are the steps:

  1. First flag the images in your collection that you want to delete as "Rejects". I use Ctrl + Down Arrow to change the flag status, but you can also press the "X" key or click the "Set as Rejected" icon.
  2. Filter your catalog to show only the rejects.  From the Library menu, select "Filter by Flag" and then "Rejected Photos Only"
  3. With only the "Rejects" showing on your screen, press "Ctrl + A" to select all of the images.
  4. Now delete the images by using what is referred to as the "Splat Delete" option.  WARNING! You will NOT be prompted to confirm deletion so be sure you want to do this.  Press "Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Delete".  If you instead press Delete or Ctrl + Backspace, you area again only removing the images from the collection, not deleting them.
  5. With the rejects deleted, you're left with a blank screen until you remove the "Filter by Flag" option set in step 2.
Did I say that was the "cleanest option"?   I'd much prefer to have Ctrl + Backspace work the same within a collection as it does within a folder.  According to the numerous posts I found when researching the topic, so would most everyone else.  I'm still searching for a better way to purge rejected photos from collections so if you know of a better way, please share with the rest of us by leaving a comment below.

Until next time, keep click'n.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Yours was the first explanation I found as I went looking to figure out what the heck I was doing wrong. Couldn't agree with you more. ~Mark Chaudhary

Ken Schram said...

You're welcome, Mark. I'm still holding out hope that Adobe will come around to our way of thinking eventually. :)

Reb Shulim said...

You are the man! I've always been setting rejects in collections and then right clicking (go to folder in catalog) and again rejecting the selected photos. this was very time consuming, as i would have to visit multiple folders, and reject the same photos twice! Thank you so much!!!!

Unknown said...

You're welcome, Reb. Something in the back of my mind is telling me that I read Adobe changed this behavior in LR4 to make the flags and other attributes consistent across the entire catalog. I'll have to test it out when I get home. Thanks for reading.

nickfish03 said...

This isn't entirely right. If I'm reading the adobe page correctly ( http://livedocs.adobe.com/en_US/Lightroom/1.0/help.html?content=WSA35378F5-15EA-4389-B6AF-3F63C3D93848.html ) you aren't deleting them, you're removing them from the catalog. That "splat delete" is actually "splat remove".

Unknown said...

Thank you for the comment, nickfish03. The url you referenced dates back all the way to version 1 it looks like so I'm not exactly sure what the behavior was back then. If you're a Lightroom 4 user, I have bad news and good news. Bad news is that you still can't Ctrl + Backspace to delete rejected photos from a collection. Good news is that the reject flags now persist across the whole catalog. This means you can select "All Photographs" from your catalog, perform a Ctrl + Backspace and delete images you rejected inside a collection.

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