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How to view dng files from a source not in the LR catalogue

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Jun 23, 2016
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I have several external hard drives. Only one is in LR's catalogue and contains all my older pics, the other HDs also contain full dng copies of my older pics and those still on my laptop, as well as all my current documents, OS, etc on the laptop.

I want to take one of these LR-uncatalogued complete backup drives with me and view the old dng images on the run while traveling. (without overloading my laptop drive ...)

Of course I do not want to import 1 Tb of images in duplicate to my LR catalogue ... so do i need to bring the LR catalogued image pics hard drive as well?

I will just be trying to just see what I have in my old backups ... , no developing, printing .., just for reference ..

A similar question arrives once my LR catalogued hard drive dies and I only have uncatalogued dng versions of all my older images; how would I make them visible in LR?
You could create a new 'Backup Images' catalog and import the DNG images into that catalog. And as you only want to be able to view them, you don't even have to take the disk itself with you.

If your current catalogued hard drive dies, the images and folders in your Lightroom catalog will be shown as missing. What you can do is right-click on a missing folder and choose 'Find Missing Folder'. Then you navigate to the corresponding folder on the backup disk and select it. That connects your catalog to this folder. You can do this with a top folder and connect all subfolders in the same action.
Well, I started as you said ..Now I have 51 images copied onto my general hard drive and they take up 2 Gig of memory already. That will overload my laptop hard drive big time.

I just want to be able to read/see/look at the images (as dng) when looking at my backup drive from my lR on the laptop. No use copying them over again. I guess I want a way to be able to open what is in dng on my external hard drive through LR on the laptop. A catalog would be nice, but a virtual one, not one that corresponds to giga bytes of images ... How can I view those gigabytes through LR that reside on the external drive, that is my question. Sorry this does not work at all. why should i import these images ? No way!
It sounds like you're copying the images themselves in the import dialog... What I think Johan is referring to is just selecting "Add" in the import dialog - to add them in place and not copy them. You might also want to lower either the resolution and/or quality of the previews in that catalog's settings before doing that import.

Having to import them like that is one of the downsides to catalog based image management. I much prefer it though, compared to file system based catalog management like ACDSee.
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Ok, I added all those images into a folder called Backup Images (inside the Lightroom folder). There are Backup Images.lrcat and Backup Images Previews.lrdata files now in my Lightroom folder.

On my LR Library screen there is now a folder on the hard drive visible which contains all my 'added photos from the external HD.

BUT everyone of those subfolders in there has a ? attached and every individual image has a small ! in the upper right corner in G library telling that me that "The ....dng image could not be used because the original file could not be found. Would you like to locate it?" Then it gives me the previous location as on the external had drive itself. Do I click to locate it or what? I do not want to carry that external drive with me, as you said I would not need. But now what? How to get rid of all the ?and ! marks, if that is necessary?

When I then click on "locate", I can choose between my laptop or the external drives ... (what if they are not available ?) Searching the HD and clicking made the whole set of images for that one day disappear from my Laptop new Backup Images LR library, while it appeared in the backup HD drive. And once I disconnected the external HD, everything went dark and dead. No way to see any of my old small images ...

I am doing so much wrong here, sorry to be a dufus.

Can anyone tell me what to do and how to do it correctly?

I guess i will have to start over after deleting all the cataloging now useless but 'there'.

Those exclamation marks and question marks appear when Lightroom can't find the images. Apparently you are using the catalog while the external disk with the images is offline. So either connect that disk, or ignore the warnings. As long as you do not want to edit the images, your originals do not have to be online to view them.
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