I have some photos and I want to remove some of them by first previewing and then removing, like I always do on Windows.

Because "Preview" does not let me look multiple photos and "Quick Look" has no delete function, I imported the photos to "Photos" app by dragging the folder into the app and started to removing photos.

Then I also go to recently deleted tab in "Photos" and deleted photos permanently.

But it does not remove them from local drive. They are still on my drive, I can see on Finder.

How do you remove photos in MacOs? I could not find an easy way to remove photos "on fly". If possible, I don't want to use 3rd party apps.

  • The first thing I would check is if you actually have two copies of the photos. In Finder / Spotlight - are you seeing them in a path other than the Photo Library? Also - do you have more than one library? Photos can accommodate many libraries. Sorry for not having a proper answer but your steps would not delete photos stored outside the library structure.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 18:49
  • Photos are not duplicates. The folder is on Desktop directly, not under "Pictures". It is my first time using the "Photos" app so that I have only one library. According to your answer, I cannot use Photos app to delete photos from individual folders. I mean, I was thinking it is synchronised with my local storage, so that whenever I remove a photo permanently from the app, it will be also removed from the storage,
    – Melih
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 19:04
  • 1
    It's more complicated than that. You will typically have several versions of each photo - all managed in a database. I'll try to get an answer going. Lots to unwrap here, but others may be able to assist with some edits to my post or jog free the right idea to get you a proper answer.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 19:53
  • 1
    as a side note: Preview.app will open multiple images, just select all the images you want to open and open them.
    – dwightk
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 20:02
  • Opening 500 images at the same time does not sound a correct approach. From the thumbnails, I cannot decide which ones I need to delete
    – Melih
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


Photos app stores the pictures in a database. There will be an original copy of the image, a copy of the image if you edit it in any way as well as proxy / thumbnail photos so that various functions are fast.

These files are all stored and managed via the application and default are stored as a directory or folder on the filesystem that is shown as one icon. Look in your Pictures folder in your home folder. (Shift Command H in Finder to short cut to your specific home folder).

Any photos stored outside that location can be deleted using finder, search tools, etc.. and using Photos won't help manage them. Any photos stored inside the photo library should not be deleted, so they are generally hidden from search to prevent people from breaking the library database.

Most people don't ever have more than one Photos library, but here are documentation for those that prefer to know how things are stored.

  • https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201517 Explains how to move your photos library - you could move yours to an external drive and then delete it. Then you'll know all the searchable photos can be deleted, saving your library to be moved back once you are done cleaning.
  • https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204414 Explains the system library and how to select alternate libraries when you start up Photos app by holding the option key.
  • Okay, Photos is not a "Photo Browsing" app then. And there is no photo browser in macOs. Now I find a work-around, not quick enough but can save my day. I open QuickLook, if I want to keep photo continue, else Cmd+Delete to move it to Trash and reopen another photo again. I want to look further why they don't provide such a feature, at least something similar to ones in Linux's Gnome\Unity etc.
    – Melih
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 20:25
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    The best browsing app for Mac is Photo Mechanic - it uses the filesystem plain and simple. It’s the polar opposite of Photos.app. @Melih If you want to manage the filesystem - learning how to spotlight search kind:photos and maybe some smart folders, you can round up images powerfully and in live time to delete them. Time Machine will be your friend as you start deleting things in case you run into unintended deletes.
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 20:34

I would like to answer my own question. The easiest way I found so far is to switch to Gallery View on Finder (Mojave). The file list pane at the bottom is small enough to preview the picture like in a full screen view.

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