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Moved photos to external drive; now LR shows no photos

pweil2

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Aug 3, 2022
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  1. macOS 12 Monterey
I knew this would be fraught with risk, but I really needed to move my photos (several thousand files) to an external drive. After doing that, I can see the correct volume in LR, as well as the parent folder and the folder that contains the photos. However, the latter shows no photos now.

Screen Shot 2022-08-03 at 9.13.43 AM.png



Can someone please point me in the right direction? I don't know whether I have to do something with the catalog, reimport the photos, make a new catalog, or what. This location-related stuff in LR has always confused the heck out of me.
Using LRC 11.4.1, Mac OS 12.4
 
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Lightroom references each image path in its catalog file (*.lrcat). If you move the images using Finder, then Lightroom Classic no longer knows where they are. The folder "2016" with the (?) in your screen shot needs to get a new reference pointer. Right click on the folder and choose "Find Missing Folder" from the Context menu. In the window that opens navigation to the location where you moved that folder "2016"
Under no circumstances re Import the image files!!.
 

pweil2

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@clee01l Ok, thanks. So after I followed your suggestion, the 2016 folder, which is located within Pictures/PhotoFiles, is now appearing in LR with its 431 photos. Great! But none of the other folders are showing up yet. 2017, 2018, etc. I don't know why it "sees" 2016 but none of the other folder inside that same directory.
 
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In the LrC folder panel there should be (?) beside each folder that is reported missing from the Lightroom Catalog. You need to perform the same procedure on each of these If a (missing) folder is a parent yo child (missing) folders, locating the parent will also locate the children provided the folder structure has not changed, only the location of the parent folder.
 

pweil2

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@clee01l That's what I expected, but there aren't any "missing folders" at all in the LrC folder panel. There are at least a dozen more folders with image files in that same directory that should be showing up in Lightroom. I've double-checked that this is the correct directory, and that there are indeed image files in each of these year folders. To my untrained eye, this smells of catalog problems. But I suspect that reimporting is not the answer. This feels like some sort of Lightroom twilight zone.
 

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Open the volume labled "Macintosh HD in the Folder panel. This is where the folders used to reside when you imported them before you moved them to the "photo" volume. You should see these folder in the Lightroom folder panel with (?) beside the folder name. Using the procedure I describe before you need to Find these folders in their new location.
 

pweil2

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@clee01l Foiled again. Here's what Macintosh HD looks like. The user home ("plweil-sa") is greyed out and doesn't contain anything. I relocated it for Lightroom, but it doesn't seem to do any good. The folder within plweil-sa that contains the images is synced from the external drive, so it is actually stored on the local drive.

Just to backtrack and explain, I recently got a new computer. The images were on the local drive of my old computer.

I decided to try a different solution with the new machine. I moved the image files from the old computer to the external drive via the Finder. Then on the new computer I set up above-mentioned synced folder. Then I went to Lightroom, where I was able to get those local folders to show up in the Lightroom folder panel.

So all good, but then I changed my mind and decided that the images should live only on the external drive and get rid of the synced folder. That's where I am stuck now.

Sorry for the somewhat convoluted story. I really appreciate the help.

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I think we might want to drop back 5 yards and regroup.

In Library module (I call it Library mode), top left is a "Panel" called Catalog. Open it and there should be a collection called All Photographs. I assume when you click that, all of your images are there as thumbnails in Grid mode but some have an exclamation point.

Do your images have an exclamation point (!) in the upper right corner? Or, perhaps some do and some don't. I don't have an example so this is just from memory but I think if you either click or right click on the exclamation point, you have the option to local the image.

What I also don't know / remember is if you locate one image, if other images along similar paths are also located. I'm pretty sure all of the images within the same folder are found but I don't know how far back up the tree the pattern matching goes.

You can also see if there are missing images via Library => Find All Missing Photos or, you can use the filter bar to find the missing images:

Under View, 2nd item is Show Filter Bar. Check it if it isn't checked. In fact, you might want to uncheck it and recheck it so you can see the "Filter Bar" disappear and reappear so you know what I'm talking about in the next stop.

Now, click Metadata in the filter bar. In the left most "Filter", click the top header and select "is Missing". This should produce two sets of images -- ones that are missing and ones that are not. Select the ones that are missing. This should definitely show you thumbnails with an exclamation point in the top right corner.

This doesn't locate the images but I'm just making sure that the images are in LR but LR doesn't know where the images are located.
 

pweil2

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@pedz @clee01l To expand on your metaphor, I'm wondering whether I ought to go back 20 yards and start from scratch. First, the Catalog Panel shows only 650 photos, which is a tiny fraction of the actual total. No "missing" photos, no exclamation points. It feels like a deadend.

Now, I still have the (roughly 9k) photos on my old computer, and on that machine, Lightroom sees them.
So the question becomes: how (and in what sequence) do I:

a) move the photos to the external drive (I've already copied them over via Finder);
b) get the catalog to recognize the new location;
c) get that catalog onto the new computer -- or can the catalog also live on the external drive? That might be even better.
 
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That's what I was afraid of. So before trying to move forward let's pause. Do you have an older copy of your LR catalog. And I suppose just as important, is the old catalog worth trying to find? Before this misadventure, aside from the count of photos (which isn't really super important) is the amount of time you have spent entering keywords, adjusting development settings, etc. If you are somewhat new, perhaps the old LR catalog isn't worth finding. But if it is, I would do that first. Hopefully you have a backup copy somewhere. Do you still have the old laptop perhap that would have an old copy of your LR catalog.

Somewhere, somehow -- (I'm 100% guessing!! so don't take this as fact) you started LR with a new catalog. Is that possible? Under File => Open Recent are there other choices?

As far as question C (we'll get to A and B later in this conversation): I prefer my catalog on my laptop so if I go to a coffee shop I can see my images and show them to friends, etc. The catalog can live on an external drive. As far as I know, that is 100% personal taste.
 
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Based upon your screen shots of the LrC Folder panel does not have All of the images that you think have been imported. Either you removed and deleted the images for this Lightroom catalog or you have opened an old catalog by mistake.

Use Finder to Search for all files with the *.lrcat extension and report these back in you reply. Also search and repot your most recent catalog backup before you started moving files around.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

pweil2

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That's what I was afraid of. So before trying to move forward let's pause. Do you have an older copy of your LR catalog. And I suppose just as important, is the old catalog worth trying to find? Before this misadventure, aside from the count of photos (which isn't really super important) is the amount of time you have spent entering keywords, adjusting development settings, etc. If you are somewhat new, perhaps the old LR catalog isn't worth finding. But if it is, I would do that first. Hopefully you have a backup copy somewhere. Do you still have the old laptop perhap that would have an old copy of your LR catalog.

Somewhere, somehow -- (I'm 100% guessing!! so don't take this as fact) you started LR with a new catalog. Is that possible? Under File => Open Recent are there other choices?

As far as question C (we'll get to A and B later in this conversation): I prefer my catalog on my laptop so if I go to a coffee shop I can see my images and show them to friends, etc. The catalog can live on an external drive. As far as I know, that is 100% personal taste.
I do have the old catalog on the old computer. Lightroom-wise, everything is intact on the old computer. I thought that I had copied it over to the new machine, but even if I did, it's not helping at this point. I'd almost prefer going back to the beginning at this point.
 

pweil2

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Based upon your screen shots of the LrC Folder panel does not have All of the images that you think have been imported. Either you removed and deleted the images for this Lightroom catalog or you have opened an old catalog by mistake.

Use Finder to Search for all files with the *.lrcat extension and report these back in you reply. Also search and repot your most recent catalog backup before you started moving files around.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
On the new computer, I have three .lrcat files. One was created on the initial LrC launch; the other two are copies of the catalog file from the old computer. I think one was renamed, because it had t be updated to the newer version of LrC.

On the old computer, all things LrC are intact. Catalog file, backups, and the image files. That's why I'm think that I should try to start this process from scratch rather than try to repair things on the new computer. Whatever I did the first time failed, but since everything is still clean on the old machine, I still have a good opportunity to start again and do things correctly this time.
 
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I would suggest reading How do I move Lightroom to a new computer? I would take what it says if / where it contradicts what I'm about to say. She has far more experience with all the different LR versions and platforms than I do.

On my computer (Mac), I have things arranged like this (see image below). The two key files are the Master Catalog-v11.lrcat and Master Catalog-v11.lrcat-data A few releases ago, the lrcat-data did not exist so you might not have that file. If the enclosing directory (Folder) of the .lrcat file looks roughly like mine, I would drag the whole containing folder over to the new computer. Then double click on the .lrcat file. If LR wants to update the catalog, go ahead. I think it is now Adobe's default to inclue the -v11 into the file name. I find it useful so I would do that.

Once that has been done, report back. Lets just do that one step and take a breath. If you want to put this on an external hard drive, that should work.

Just to give you a little bit of calm... there is no reason we can't get this to work eventually. It might take a few false starts but, as you said, all your data is on the old laptop.
Screen Shot 2022-08-04 at 14.40.02.png
 

pweil2

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@pedz Let me ask a (hopefully) simpler question. Using my old computer, let's say I want to move the image files to an external volume. So I copy the files over there. At this point, how do I tell Lightroom, hey, the image files have moved. Forget the old location, and link up with the new one?
If I succeed in doing this, then all I have to do is copy the catalog over to the new machine, and it should work.
 

pweil2

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@pedz @clee01l Ok, I finally was able to get it done. I went back to step 1, as described above. Two challenges were finding a couple hundred missing photos and then getting Lightroom to link up with the new directory on the external volume. The way Lightroom abstracts folder/file paths and volumes is a bit unintuitive and, at least to me, kind of odd. For example, if the folder you want to link up with is on an external volume, you need to find that folder only on that volume in the "Folders" column of LR. Don't bother with the Macintosh HD section. I don't think -- I could be wrong -- this is how things are described on some of the online tutorials. And those dropdown menu items are not exactly self-explanatory, to say the least. Sync folders? Rename? You really want to mess with folder names on the Lightroom side of things. And all of the stuff about parent folders. Ugh. All of which is to say, there ought to be an easier way to accomplish tasks like this. Anyway, enough whining from me. It's done. Thanks for your help!
 
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@pedz @clee01l Ok, I finally was able to get it done. I went back to step 1, as described above. Two challenges were finding a couple hundred missing photos and then getting Lightroom to link up with the new directory on the external volume. The way Lightroom abstracts folder/file paths and volumes is a bit unintuitive and, at least to me, kind of odd. For example, if the folder you want to link up with is on an external volume, you need to find that folder only on that volume in the "Folders" column of LR. Don't bother with the Macintosh HD section. I don't think -- I could be wrong -- this is how things are described on some of the online tutorials. And those dropdown menu items are not exactly self-explanatory, to say the least. Sync folders? Rename? You really want to mess with folder names on the Lightroom side of things. And all of the stuff about parent folders. Ugh. All of which is to say, there ought to be an easier way to accomplish tasks like this. Anyway, enough whining from me. It's done. Thanks for your help!
The Lightroom Classic Catalog contains two fields 'relativePath' and 'absolutePath'. Both are standard path descriptions obtained from the Filesystem using the API call to the path system. Both are resolvable in MacOS but only 'absolutePath' can be resolves in a Microsoft environment where the image file resides on a different volume from the Lightroom Application.
If you move an image to a different location (different volume) using Finder, then the catalog file (*.lrcat) does not get these 'relativePath' and 'absolutePath' fields updated and you have to manually do this in Lightroom Classic. In LrC, these folders in Finder and image file on the grid view show as "missing" which is Adobe's way of saying the 'relativePath' and 'absolutePath' fields stored in the catalog do not match the location of the file or folder. Th find the missing location, right clicking opens a menu which opens a (MacOS) system dialog just like Finder to allow you to navigate the filesystem to find the current path to the file or folder.
The Folder panel in LrC shows a subset of the Finder dialog that shows only folders on the filesystem that have images imported (i.e. registered) to the catalog. When you work in the LrC Folder panel, you are actually working with an interface to the file system. If you want to use the Rename function you actually work through the filesystem rename function to rename the file or folder using the filesystem API. "Sync Folders" actually compares the files registered to the LrC catalog with the files found in the filesystem. If there are images file in the filesystem folder that are not registered in the Lightroom catalog, then LrC will open the Import dialog to allow you to add these image files to the catalog.
 
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