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Lightroom catalog cannot see images in external hard drive

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Michael Fisher

Oct 24, 2017
Sydney Australia
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
Classic 12.2.1
Operating System
  1. macOS 10.14 Mojave
I am on LR Classic v 12.2.1 on an iMac (2015). Two days ago I upgraded the OS from Mojave to Catalina. I have two external hard drives, an 8TB and a 4TG both G-drives.. My catalog is stored on the new 8TB HD. On opening LR I found that my catalog did not recognise any images on the older 4TB drive. I restored my computer from a Time Machine b/up to the state before the upgrade to Catalina. LR could still not see any images from the 4TB drive.
Against each folder for the 4TB drive in the catalog is a question mark. (see screenshot below). The drive IS visible in Finder and all the images are there. I have unmounted the HD and remounted. I have also rebooted the computer.
If I click on the exclamation mark in an image preview in the thumbnail strip to see in Finder, and then follow it to Finder, I get the message that the image exists in another location. IF I select a folder and right click "Find Missing folder" and go to the folder in the 4TB HD, then that folder in the catalog vanishes.
If I import photos from the folder
While I have been meticulous in backing up my Mac and the two external drives, sadly I was remiss in not backing up the LR catalog frequently. The last back was a few months back. When I loaded up that backup, it too could see any in the 4TB drive.

Other than starting from scratch and building a complete new catalog, I don't know how to resolve this.

If I do start a a new master catalog and import from the two external drives (and not by way of importing from another catalog) will the XMP files be pulled in to the new catalog together with the images?

Help? Thanks


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Thanks Paul. I have looked at the mac System Preferences/Privacy tab - however I don't ee "Files and Folders' as mentioned in the link you mention. I only have an option "Full Disk Access"

I have found a work-around. I had a 2nd large catalog with images from two major travel photo workshops I had done. I found that in this catalog I could select "Add Folder" and point to the various folders on my 2nd drive (which the other catalog could not see) and the drive and its folder and sub-folders came neatly into this 2nd catalog. I think all that I cannot retrieve are the many collections and collections sets that I had in the first catalog.
Unless you had 'Automatically write changes to XMP' turned on in you main catalog, that work-around is not a solution because you will have lost all edits and metadata for the folders you added to the other catalog.

Your screenshot shows something wrong with the mounting of the drive. The drive with the missing folders is shown as being offline, but because it has the same name as the drive above it (except for an added '1'), I assume that this is actually the same drive as the one above it. What should work is to right-click on the missing 'IMAGES & LIGHTROOM CATALOGS' folder, choose 'Find Missing Folder' and then in the dialog that follows select this folder on the 'G-Drive 4TB' disk. If that works, then do the same with the other top folders. Do not try to 'relink' the G-Drive 4TB 1' folder, because that is most likely not a folder at all. It's the disk name. When everything is fixed, you should hide this by right-clicking on it and choosing 'Hide This Parent'.
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