This is the way Lightroom is designed; one photo is "most" selected, one or more are "semi-selected" to use your words, and others are not selected. This is so you can copy and paste metadata or edits from the "most selected" photo to the other selected photos.
But when I have that situation where one photo is "most selected" and others are selected, then pressing delete winds up deleting all the selected photos and the "most selected" photo.
I agree with the above post except when I have select many many images. When I use the Delete key not all images are deleted. But if you want all of them gone right click and select Remove photos. You are then presented with a dialog box with the option to remove from just the catalog or remove from catalog and disk. 99.999999% of the time I select Remove from Disk.
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Thanks for the response dj_paige. Based on your note, I think I have it figured out (for a PC). Using the aforementioned approach to select the photos (inverting the flagged "keepers"):
Photo>Remove Photo will only delete the most highlighted (selected) master
Backspace Key will only delete the selected master
Delete Key will only delete the selected master
Right-clicking on any of the 'selected' photos will let you delete all of the files (selected and semi-selected)
So, the last option is the one that works perfectly! Though it is possible that this is documented somewhere, I certainly would not have deduced it without your help. It is an enormous time saver for me. I was able to delete over 3,000 unwanted files this way (four days of photography). Many thanks! My guess is that many others could benefit similarly if this were more broadly known. I will certainly share it with my camera clubs.
To tell you the truth, I just tried on my Windows 7 computer and the Delete and the Backspace key works fine for me, all selected and "most selected" photos are deleted (actually a dialog box pops up asking you if you want to Remove from catalog or delete from the hard disk). So I'm not sure why it doesn't seem to be working that way on your computer. Perhaps there is some option in Lightroom that controls this (but I am not aware of one).
flag all of the photos that I want to keep (P), I should then be able to 1) select all flagged, 2) invert selection, and 3) delete (remove) unwanted photos.
To build on dj_paige's response: This also works correctly on my LR 5.7 / Windows 8.1 also. In step 3, the Delete key, the Backspace key, right-click > Remove Photos, and Photo > Remove Photos (note the plural "s") all behave the same way, popping up a dialog to remove all the non-flagged photos. Something is wierd about your situation.
If you are in loupe view film strip or the Develop module film strip it will only delete the most-selected photo.
I keep forgetting about that wart -- one of several reasons I rarely use the film strip.