Mac Performance

How to Delete Photos on Mac

Photos are important. They capture many of your memories, including some of your most precious moments, so understandably, you want to save and keep them for years to come. But before you know it, you have hundreds or thousands of photos on your Mac’s hard drive. And because it’s easy to create duplicates, many aren’t even necessary.

 

Before we start

 

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to end up with tons of duplicate images on your Mac. They take up space and can even slow your Mac down if there are too many.

 

Finding duplicates manually can be a painstaking process, making MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder so handy. It scans your Mac, looking for duplicate files, so you can easily delete the unwanted copies.

  1. Run MacKeeper on your MacBook Pro or Air and select Duplicates Finder from the menu on the left.
  2. Click Start scan.
  3. When the scan is done, select what you want to remove.
  4. Click Remove duplicates.
  5. This can be a huge timesaver, so it’s definitely worth a try. You can download MacKeeper for free and give it a go. It comes with one free fix, so you see for yourself how effective it is.

So, how do you find and delete photos on your Mac? There are a few ways to do it, some manual and some automatic. Either way, they’ll help you claw back your disk space, giving your Mac a speed bump in the process.

 

Here is what you can try:

  • Clean up Photos library
  • Delete entire albums
  • Recover deleted pictures
  • Delete images permanently
  • Remove duplicate photos with MacKeeper

Where are your photos stored on Mac?

The Photos library stores your photos on Mac. You can find the Photos app on your Dock. If not, you can locate it in Finder in the sidebar. Once you open the Photos folder, you’ll land on the Library category by default. You can find more categories below it—like Memories, People, Places, Favorites, Recents, and more—just like on your iPhone.

The Photos app is opened on a MacBook device. The Library category is selected and the user's images are displayed on the screen.

How to remove photos from Mac with the Trash Folder

Deleting your photos on your Mac with the Trash folder is one of the simplest ways to do it, and it only takes seconds.

  1. Drag the photos to the Trash can in the Dock. Repeat this step for other photos you want to get rid of.
  2. Alternatively, right-click on the photo and choose the Delete 1 Photo option. To delete multiple photos on your MacBook, select multiple images, right-click on them, and choose Delete Photos.
To remove photos on Mac with the Trash folder, drag the photos to the Trash. Alternatively, right-click on the photo and choose the Delete 1 Photo option. To delete images in bulk, select them, right-click on them, and choose Delete Photos.

How to delete photos on Mac with shortcuts

Another quick method of deleting photos is using shortcuts. If you’re comfortable with Mac shortcuts, you can use one to delete the photos you no longer need on your Mac.

  1. Select the photos you want to delete and press the Command + Delete keys on your keyboard. This will move the photos to the Recently Deleted album, where you can delete them permanently, or they’ll be automatically deleted after 30 days.
  2. To bypass the Trash folder and permanently delete the photos, hit the Option + Command + Delete keys instead.

How to remove an entire album in the macOS Photos app

The Photos app collects your pics into albums that you can find in the left side panel. You can edit and delete any of these albums.

 

To do that, take the following steps:

  1. Launch Photos.
  2. Select My Albums and choose the album you want to erase.
  3. Right-click on it and select Delete Album from the menu that appears.
  4. If you want to skip past the confirmation step, press Cmd + Delete—you’ll see the album disappear from the list.
To remove an entire album in the macOS Photos app, launch Photos. Choose the album you want to erase, right-click on it, and select Delete Album.

How to delete all photos on your Mac

At times, you might need to delete all the photos you have on your Mac—for example, when you’re selling it or finally cleaning up your Mac. Thankfully, it’s easy to do.

 

Follow these steps:  

  1. Launch the ‌Photos‌ app.
  2. Go to Library in the left panel.
  3. Select all photos by pressing Cmd + A.
  4. Press Delete Items.
  5. Go to Recently Deleted in the left pane.
  6. Click Delete Photos/Items in the window's upper-right corner.
  7. Click Delete to confirm.
To delete all photos on your Mac, launch ‌the Photos‌ app and go to Library in the left panel. Select all photos by pressing Cmd + A and press Delete Items.
Step 1. Delete all photos in the Library
To delete all photos on your Mac, go to Recently Deleted in the left pane. Click Delete Photos/Items in the upper-right corner of the window, followed by Delete to confirm.
Step 2. Delete all photos in the Recently Deleted folder

How to remove multiple photos on MacBook

Imagine how many unnecessary screenshots you collect and the images you download from WhatsApp and text messages daily. Deleting these could take time, especially if you haven’t done it in years or months. Luckily, you can bulk delete photos on a Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Launch ‌Photos‌ and select the relevant category or album in the left pane.
  2. Select all photos by pressing Cmd + A and click on the photos you don’t want to delete, then right-click on a photo and press Delete Photos/Items.
To remove multiple photos on MacBook, launch ‌Photos‌ and select the relevant category or album in the left pane. Select all photos by pressing Cmd + A and click on the photos you don’t want to delete, then right-click on a photo and press Delete Photos/Items.

How to delete photos from the Photos Library on Mac

Bear in mind that if your photographs are synchronized with iCloud, the pictures you erase on your Mac will also be removed from other devices connected to that account.

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Select the pictures you want to delete. To select a photo, click on it once.
  3. Alternatively, hold Shift to select a range of photos or Cmd to select multiple individual photos.
  4. Right-click the selected images, select Delete Photos from the drop-down menu, or press the Delete key.
  5. Confirm the action and the photos will go to the Trash. Empty it to delete them permanently.
To delete photos from the Photos Library on Mac, launch the Photos app and select the pictures you want to delete. Right-click on the selected images, select Delete Photos from the drop-down menu, and confirm the action. Empty the Trash.

How to erase photos from Mac but not iCloud

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to store important files and photos on your iCloud and only keep the items you use daily on your Mac.

 

Here’s how to delete photos from your MacBook but not your iCloud:

1. Disable Photos syncing in iCloud and then delete them on Mac

To stop syncing your photos with iCloud and delete them, do this:

  1. Click on the Apple menu > System Preferences/Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos > Manage.
  2. Select Photos on the left, then click Turn Off and Delete, followed by Done.
  3. Open the Photos app, find the images you want to delete, and drag them to the Trash.
Disable Photos syncing in iCloud and then delete photos on Mac to erase them from Mac but not iCloud. To do this, click on the Apple menu > System Preferences/Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos > Manage.
Step 1. Click on Apple ID in System Preferences
Disable Photos syncing in iCloud and then delete photos on Mac to erase them from Mac but not iCloud. To do this, select Photos on the left, then click Turn Off and Delete, followed by Done.
Step 2. Disable photos syncing

2. Move photos to an external hard drive

Another option for freeing up space on your Mac is moving your photos to an external hard drive. Ensure you use an external storage device formatted for Mac, like a Thunderbolt drive or USB drive, either APFS format or macOS Extended (Journaled) format. Note that you can’t store your library on a storage device used for Time Machine backups.

 

We also advise you not to store your library on a removable storage device to avoid losing your data. Removable devices include a USB flash drive and an SD card. Neither should you store your library on any device shared over your network or the internet, including a cloud-based storage service.

 

Follow these steps to move your images to an external hard drive:

  1. Quit the Photos app and plug in your external storage.
  2. Open the folder in Finder that contains your Photos library. By default, this will be the Pictures folder in the sidebar.
  3. Now drag the Photos library to the location you want to store it on your external storage device.
  4. Once that’s done, open the Photos library in the new location by double-clicking on it.
A screenshot from Mac showing how to move your images from your Mac storage to an external hard drive.

Removing duplicate photos with MacKeeper

Although you can go through all the photos on your Mac and manually delete the ones you don’t want, it’s not the best way to do it. Frankly, it can be a mind-numbingly dull and time-consuming process. Also, there’s always the risk of deleting shots you intended to keep.

 

But there is an easier way: you can use MacKeeper. As well as being security and Mac cleaner software, it has a built-in Duplicate Finder, which can help you find and remove duplicate photos with just a few clicks. This is another solution to delete photos on your Mac to free up space.

 

Here’s how to delete duplicate photos on Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Launch MacKeeper.
  2. From the menu on the left, select Duplicates Finder.
  3. Click Start Scan, or if you’ve recently done a scan, Restart.
  4. Select all the duplicates you want to delete.
  5. Click Remove duplicates.
MacKeeper app open on Mac depicting the Duplicates Finder feature running a check and removing photo duplicates.

MacKeeper can find identical photos in your library, even with different names. And it won’t erase anything without your permission. It makes finding duplicate photos on your Mac fast and easy, so you can spend less time editing your old memories and more time making new ones.

How to recover deleted pictures from a Mac

If you accidentally delete some of your photos, you have 30 days to recover them. After that, they’ll be gone forever.

 

You can find all your deleted images in the Recently Deleted folder in the Photos app:

  1. Launch Photos.
  2. Scroll down and click on the Recently Deleted folder.
  3. In the folder, select the images you want to restore—they’ll be marked by a blue checkmark.
  4. Click the Recover button in the top right of the window.
To recover deleted pictures from a Mac, launch Photos. Scroll down and click on the Recently Deleted folder in the sidebar.
Step 1. Go to the Recently Deleted folder
To recover deleted pictures from a Mac, select the images you want to restore in the Recently Deleted folder — they’ll be marked by a blue checkmark. Click on the Recover button in the top right of the window.
Step 2. Recover the photos you want to restore

How to permanently delete pictures in the Mac Photos app

You can fully wipe photos and videos instead of storing them for 30 days.

 

To do that, take the following steps:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. Go to the Recently Deleted folder.
  3. Select all the desired files.
  4. Click Delete Photos/Items in the top right of the window to delete them forever.
To permanently delete pictures in the Mac Photos app, launch the app and go to the Recently Deleted folder. Select all the desired files. Click Delete Photos/Items in the top right of the window to delete them forever.

Good to know

 

If you’re worried about your privacy, you can remove the metadata on your photos on your Mac device. Additionally, you can remove the location from your photos on an iPhone.

Delete your photos from your Mac safely

Like many Apple users, you likely have hundreds, even thousands, of photos of sentimental value stored on your computer. Eventually, they can clog up your device’s storage, making it necessary to delete them, especially those daily downloads and screenshots that are of no value.

 

Use the tips in our guide to delete photos on your Mac device. Don’t forget to back up important photos to your iCloud account first before deleting them to avoid losing your lifelong memories. Finally, use MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder to easily and quickly identify and get rid of duplicate photos on your Mac or iMac desktop. This will help you avoid deleting your favorite pictures by mistake.

FAQ

1. Why can't I delete photos from my Mac?

There are many reasons you can run into this problem. Here are a few things that might fix it:

  • Restart your computer
  • Update macOS
  • Reset the SMC
  • Reset NVRAM
  • Launch in Safe Mode

These are just a few of the steps you can take to diagnose and fix problems with your Mac, including with photos.

2. Can I delete photos on my iPhone and keep them on my Mac?

If your devices are synced through iCloud, deleting a picture from your library on any one of them will also remove it from the others. You can turn off iCloud to store them separately on all devices. When you want to delete photos from your iPhone only, plug it into your Mac with a USB cable and move them manually. Alternatively, use AirDrop to transfer them wirelessly via Bluetooth.

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