How can I remove unused photo files from my large catalog?

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#1
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I finally have trimmed my large catalog from about 40K photos to about 28K. My problem is that the photos are contained in several hundred folders Many folders that I'm carrying with my catalog may have 50-100 photos with only a few imported to Lr. So my catalog currently occupies over 700 GB of space on a large external HDD. I'm hoping that there is a way to export only the selected photos and all metadata to a new catalog or to import my keepers to a new catalog, leaving the unused files behind. Of course I'm aware that I can go folder by folder , find, mark and delete all except the photos used, but this is a greater task than I'm willing to take on. External storage is inexpensive and my catalog is working okay by using only a fraction of the files carried.

Is there some way that I can remove all of the unused files from the folders that I'm carrying with my catalog? I do want to keep the original and all of the metadata with the photos that I'm keeping. Also I'd like to keep parent folder references so that I can retrace the file origin if necessary. If you can let me know if removing the fat from my catalog is doable and point me in the right direction (e.g., the Lr module) that'll certainly help. If it can't be done in Lr then maybe another program or plugin? I'm fairly proficient with spreadsheets and have the Lr Transporter plugin.
 

Jimmsp

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#2
You should read this: The Basics - Quick Start Essentials

Note - the LR Catalog does not contain your photos. It is a database that knows where all the photos are.

You need to decide what to do with your photos. At a minimum, the first thing you should do is to back them up. Note that a backup of the LR catalog does not back up your photos.
 
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Thanks, Jim. I understand that the catalog is the mechanism that does what you need with and to your photos. But as The Basic states " because as long as you have the originals and the catalog, you can output finished photos on demand. " I have chosen to have my originals in the catalog. I do have all of my photos backed up.

What I want is a smaller collection of my photos and the catalog data by removing the photos that aren't addressed in the catalog.
 

JohanElzenga

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So if I understand you correctly, you need a method to find all images that are still in your image folders, but that you have removed from the catalog because you no longer want to keep them. You want to delete these images from the drive.

This may sound strange at first sight, but the way to do this is to import them again. Right-click on the top image folder in the Lightroom folder panel, and choose ‘Synchronize Folder’. Lightroom will show you all those removed images as new. Let Lightroom import them all. Then go to the ‘Previous Import’ collection (which should contain all the images you just imported), select all images and press the Delete key. Lightroom will ask you if you only want to remove them from the catalog, or also delete them from disk. Click the Delete from Disk button.

If you do not have one single top image folder, then do this for each top folder separately.
 
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So if I understand you correctly, you need a method to find all images that are still in your image folders, but that you have removed from the catalog because you no longer want to keep them. You want to delete these images from the drive.
Thanks, Johan. Sorry that I didn't make my post more clear. You're mostly correct, and I think your recommendation may work. I'll try it.
The difference is that I never removed the thousands of images from Lr because I never imported them. My Lr working routine for years has been to:
  • take a bunch of photos
  • move them from my SD card to a folder in my HDD
  • review them all
  • finally import only the keepers into Lr
Being a hoarder - I never deleted the *photos not imported* unless they were technically bad (out of focus or other stuff not repairable). The result of years of doing this I have hundreds of folders with only a few photos from each that I imported into Lr. So I've been carrying all these unwanted photos that were never imported. I can't delete the entire folders because I would be deleting the photos needed in my Lr catalog.
 

Jimmsp

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#7
I'm not sure what program you currently use to review and cull.
After you get through with this cleanup, I'd suggest that you import all the photos you shoot, review them in LR, and then cull them in LR.
You can quickly go through them quite quickly, assign a X (reject) to the ones you want to delete, and then later "delete all rejected photos".
You can rate at the same time, and keyword them as well. Common keywords can be given during import.
I find LR quite handy, as I can quickly magnify a photo and check focus, etc.
Give it a try with your next batch of new photos.
 
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No worries. It doesn’t matter whether or not you imported them before and then removed them again, or never imported them at all. This method will work in both cases.
Yes, I'm trying your suggestion and it works well. Thanks for your help.
 
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#9
I am struggling a little to understand what you want to do.

Are you saying that you have say a folder on your external drive with say 100 photos and that you have imported only say 30 photos into LR and you do not want to carry round all these non imported photos as they are taking up too much space ?

Do you want to just permanently delete these non imported photos or do you want to move them to another external drive ?

If you just want to delete the non-imported photos then what I would do is :-

1. For all the photos you have in LR that you want to keep give them all a keyword say "Keep"
2. Then do as Johan suggested and synchronize the top image folder and import all those photos that are not currently in LR
3. Then select all the photos that do not have the keyword "Keep".
4. Then simply delete them from external drive (not just from LR... you get 2 options)

If you just want to move those photos to another external drive then you need to make sure both drives are connected and do the same as above up to and including step 3. Then from within LR instead of deleting them just "Move" those photos to the other external drive.
 
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#11
Mark,
There is no reason to use a temporary keyword. The method I describe works perfectly without it.
Mark,
There is no reason to use a temporary keyword. The method I describe works perfectly without it.
Of course you are correct but I would not rely solely on the "Previous Import" collection being accurate. If there were any problems during the synchronization process and the photos had to be synchronized / imported in stages then the "previous Import" collection may not be correct. I would therefore assign the temporary keyword to the keepers just to make sure.
 
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