Careful Deleting

by Ben Long

You need to be very careful when deleting images in Aperture to avoid accidentally deleting an entire project rather than a selection of pictures.

To delete an image, or a series of images, you first select them, and then choose File > Delete Version. Alternately, you can choose Delete Master Image and All Versions to automatically take out all files related to the ones you have selected. Finally, you can also use the keyboard shortcut, Command-Delete to delete the images.

If you're about to delete a master file, Aperture will warn you with a dialog box. If you're deleting referenced files, it will give you the choice to move the original referenced files to the trash.

The potential for trouble stems from the fact that it can be difficult to overlook which pane in the Aperture window actually has focus at the time that you delete, and it's easy to not pay attention to Aperture's warning dialogs.

For example, consider this Aperture window:


It's very easy to assume here that what is selected here is the sunset image. It's being show in the Viewer pane, it has a selection rectangle around it in the Browser pane. However, what's actually selected is the Project. You can tell because the project entry is slightly brighter than it would be if the Browser pane had focus.

In this figure, the lower project is selected, the upper one isn't.


So, if you hit Command-Delete thinking that the images in the Viewer pane are about to be deleted, make sure to check to see if it's actually the current Project that has focus.

Aperture tries to protect you from this mistake by presenting you with a dialog box that says "You're about to delete a project." However, this box looks a lot like the usual "you're deleting an image" box, so it's very easy to not pay close attention to it, and inadvertantly delete an entire project.

Remember, though, that when you delete an image - or a project full of images - Aperture moves those images into an Aperture folder inside the normal Finder trash can, so you can always fish them back out. You'll lose all of your metadata and edits if you have to do this, but you'll at least be able to get your images back.

And do I know all of this because I made this stupid mistake? Of COURSE not! Well, not on an especially large project...


Steve Chen
2007-04-09 07:58:42
sigh... I made that mistake a few times already... this should be considered a usability problem
2007-04-09 08:13:19
I made the same mistake a few days before. Thank God that I made a backup minutes before, so that I got back my metadata!

Greetings from Germany

2007-04-09 09:42:07
I made that mistake a few weeks ago. It really really sucks and I have only myself to blame.

Very good that you bloged about it tough!

2007-04-09 10:02:51
I was noticing (while trying to help somebody export a version of their photo for flickr) that the focus was a little .... wacky. Shift-Cmd-E does widely different things depending on what you're actually focused on. Lightroom also does this in a few places, so they're both culprits in this, but why both of these apps seem to have it worse than others (than I can think of), I don't rightly know.


2007-04-10 02:35:48
Thanks so much for this. A friend of mine just had this happen! It was disastrous because, although she found her masters in the trash, her hours of editing were gone with the versions.

I think Aperture ought to put a red highlight selection rectangle around the image in the browser when what you have selected is actually the entire project!

2007-04-10 05:44:57
Well, I am marieboyer's friend she mentions, and I sure wish I read this article last week. Sigh. It was a totally stupid mistake on my part and I was just flat out careless. I wanted to delete an extra version and all of the images were selected in the project (command A) from a previous action I did. So when I clicked on the ONE image, it still appeared as only that image in the viewer - my viewer option was set to Primary. Maybe a good rule of thumb is to always have the Main Viewer set to MULTI (option U) - so if you have more than one image selected, it will show them in the viewer.
2007-04-10 07:58:39
Deleting the wrong image is something I always worried about until Aperture. I always us the 9 key as part of my deleting strategy. Then at the end of my sort I take a second look at all the Images in the rejected folder then I select all and then go in to the menu and then choose delete all versions and masters. This may take a little more time but my peace of mind it worth it.
2007-05-06 21:00:30
I made this mistake a couple of days ago too. It is obviously a UI issue that should be addressed.
Dennis Novosad
2007-10-11 09:19:15
How do you delete the master reference file in Aperture. I have tried and when I go to the file location that is being referenced the file is still there. I would like to reduce the memory space on my external drive for the out of focus, unwanted, etc. pictures.