How to undo deleted images in Lightroom Classic.

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Here we are with a great quick tip for all of you clumsy computer users out there.

Now, the reason I know this little trick is because I have done this at least twice in Lightroom.

Lightroom has this weird ability, when you shutdown and restart the program it will load everything up exactly where you were last. Including having all the files you had selected before you shutdown still selected when you restart. Convenient?? I dunno. Unfortunately, I have forgotten that I had bunches of files selected elsewhere in my library when restarting Lightroom and started CTRL + clicking to my hearts content all the files I wanted to delete in that moment… Since I was CTRL + clicking I was adding to my already existing selection. And when I right clicked and hit “Remove from Disk” under the “Remove Photo” menu option I went super-fast and failed to see the number of files I was deleting was vastly larger than what I had just selected for deletion.

The delete menu I far to quickly clicked “Delete from Disk” on:

Unfortunately, I only realized my mistake when my filmstrip started to disappear. Sitting there in a moment of shock as what was happening to my carefully edited images dawned on me, I hurriedly tried to cancel the operation, but I was far too late. Dozens upon dozens of my favorites from a day of shooting had been deleted! What to do I exclaimed! WHAT TO DO!?!?!?!

Welp, cool your boots sunshine because there is an answer!

How to undelete all the images you just deleted in Lightroom.

The answer to all your problems lies on the delete menu itself. Look at the text in the above image where it says “Select ‘Delete from Disk’ to also move the selected photos on your computer to the Explorer’s Recycle Bin.”

Notice that it says “MOVE the selected photos, not DELETE”. A smarter UI decision might be to simply have the button say “MOVE TO RECYCLE BIN/TRASH CAN” and forego the confusing use of “delete from disk” when nothing is being deleted.

Thankfully, you can just pop into your Recycle Bin/Trash Can as pictured below:

Just select the files you want to undelete, right-click and select “Restore” on the context menu as shown above.

On a Mac you can simply copy + paste your files back into the folder you want them in.

**Warning**

If you hit “Delete” in the Recycle Bin on Windows, or “Delete Immediately” in the Trash Can on a Mac or “Empty Recycle Bin/Trash Can” the files really will be deleted.

If you accidentally delete files out of your Recycle Bin or Trash Can there is STILL hope but it is not guaranteed. What you want to do is immediately shut down the computer, remove the hard drive where your files were originally saved not necessarily the system hard drive, and send the hard drive to a company that specializes in data recovery.

There are also some tools you can find online but the more you use your computer after an accidental deletion the more the odds go up that the data which was marked as deleted will be irreversibly overwritten by some other system process.

Continuing on…. if you did not accidentally hit the delete button or empty Recycle Bin button I assume you moved your files back where they belong.

Good job, you just restored files that were “deleted” from Lightroom!

Another option is to go into the folder using the Explorer or Finder where the files were located and press CTRL + Z, that will literally undo the deletions one at a time.

One note is that you will have to re-import the files into your Lightroom catalog. Unfortunately, as far as Lightroom is concerned those files were deleted and you will have to start over with them.

Let me know in the comments if this helped you or if you know of a better way to undelete accidentally deleted files.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Help! Working on my iMac. I don’t know how my pics got deleted, but when I went to work on about 100 of them, there were only 12 left.

    1. I found the deleted ones in recycle bin.

    2. I highlighted the 208 deleted files in recycle bin and right clicked but no option called “restore” came up. It only had “Open” “Open With” “Delete Immediately” “Empty Trash” “Get Info” “Rename 208 items” “Quick Look 208 items” and so on. No “Restore”.

    3. I then went to LR classic files in library and opened the file they had been in before being deleted and tried hitting control z and nothing happened except it zoomed in a photo that was open in that file.

    Any suggestions? These were my Milky Way shots that I drove 5 hours for and I’m crushed. I have no idea how 208 got deleted. Now, I did intentionally delete a number of bad shots but not 208….maybe 100 or so. Can anyone help? Thanks.

    • Hello Jean White, sorry to hear about your problems. On a Mac the process is different. The files have simply been moved to your trash can. All you have to do is move them back to the folder you want them in. Don’t worry, as long as they’re in your trash can they’re still on your computer! Do NOT hit “Delete Immediately” or “Empty Trash”. Then they really will be deleted. Hope that helps.

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