How to Delete Raw Files from Apple Photos

Glenn Fleishmann answered a question on Macworld today in his Mac 911 column. A correspondent has both raw and JPEGs in his Photos library, and wants to delete some of the raw files. He asked:

There are several where I would like to keep only the JPG and would like to delete the raw file entirely. Is there a way to do this without exporting the .jpg file, deleting the pair, and re-importing it?

Glenn’s reply was to export the originals, then delete the files in Photos, and re-import the JPEG, but that’s not the best way to do this. In many cases, you may already have applied edits to the JPEG file, and doing this brings you back to square one. Here’s a better way:

  1. Select the photo for which you want to delete the raw file.
  2. Choose File > Export > Export 1 Photo. This will save the JPEG version of the file, with all your edits.
  3. Next, delete the photo from your Photos library. This deletes both the raw and JPEG files.
  4. Finally, re-add the exported JPEG by dragging it onto the Photos window.

You will lose your editing history; you won’t be able to see the adjustments you’ve made to the photo. But you’ll have the full-quality JPEG, in its final form, and you’ll have gotten rid of the raw file.

Note that if you simply drag the photo from the Photos app to the Finder, it saves a JPEG but in a lower quality than if you go through the export procedure.

Read more about how to work with raw and JPEG files in Apple’s Photos app.