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Can I parse out photos deleted from catalog but still in HDD?


Active Member
May 21, 2015
Hillsborough, NC
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
Over the years I've been deleting photos from my Lr catalog but NOT deleting them from my hard drive. This is because of my paranoia of deleting something that I may value later. But now I have a catalog bloated with these photos (thousands) not in my catalog. I've now decided to remove the fat from my dedicated Lr HDD and instead save the deleted photos to a separate archival HDD. But I can't figure out how to separate out the photos not included in my Lr catalog.

Is there some way to do this? I have Duplicate Finder software but I don't see how this can help.

Jan 18, 2009
Fort Myers, FL
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
The simple way is to do a synchronize on the folders involved (you can do for a top level parent folder), and import them (it will default to an "add" which is what you want). This puts them back into Lightroom in the previous import collection. Then select all in that collection and mark them rejected. Then select the folders (not collection -- you can select a top level parent folder) and Photo, delete rejected and all will vanish.

NOTE: If you do it this way do NOT import again before deleting as it gives you a new import collection. You might also consider during the import marking all with a specific keyword or similar just in case, so you have another way to find them all.

Recommendation: Do this with a small folder or tree so you can see how it all works before doing it with your whole disk, and even then consider doing it in groups, e.g. if you have folders by date, maybe a year or even a month at a time, or even a day -- start with a day, then months, once comfortable years.

Final and most importantly: Make sure you make a complete system backup first, just in case you hit the wrong button somewhere.