Yes, a format of the memory will erase ALL photos in one shot. I don't have a manual for this camera but from this site: http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Nikon-Coolpix-L14 It sounds like you go into the menu, choose setup and go to page 2. There should be an option to format on this page. Of course, before doing so I would backup all these photos to your computer.
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there are some programs out there to recover files from your card even after you format the card. most of the time if you delete the file you can get it back. depending on the brand of card you use, many of them offer some kind of recovery software and most of the time it is free of charge if you purchase a card from them. I am not selling these but I most of the time use Lexar cards and they give one of the best programs out there. used it before and it saved me a couple good times :) you can google some other ones and there are some that are free.
You did not say which model Coolpix camera you have (there have been 168 models over the years) so I can only give you general information on deleting multiple photos; i.e., deleting all pictures in the memory.
On some models there are two buttons, usually the trash and one other button, labeled with a red dot. Depressing both buttons at the same time for a few seconds will erase everything. If your camera does not have that feature, the other method is to use the "delete all" menu function. Enter your camera's menus and scroll through them. You should find that function in the menus.
Hi, to recover the deleted Nikon photos, you can use a photo recovery software. I have used Remo Recover for years and it is really good to use. You can find it in this page: How to recover Nikon photos with ease.
The camera is not a full card reader. You can use it to copy pictures, but it won't let you recover files. You need to use a separate card reader, either built-in to your computer or attached to a USB port.