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OMG-I messed up and am sick about it. Need Catalogue Help, please


New Member
Jan 4, 2015
home base-Surprise, Az but we travel the country-o
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
Operating System
  1. macOS 10.14 Mojave
I have (had?) about 600,000 photos in my catalogue on my IMAC. I recently traveled and left the IMAC home and took my Macbook. I created a new catalogue on the macbook just so i could see my photos and post them while i was gone, fully intending to add the photos (which were on an external drive) into my catalogue on the IMAC when I came home. (I didn't mind losing any edits I did while i was away)
when I got home, i realized i can't find which LRCAT i used on my IMAC...i have so many 'test' catalogues and older versions. my photos are on my external drives (along with the xmp files) but not in any catalogue i open. if i do open a catalogue, it shows only about 160,000 photos and although i see the external drives, i don't see my older photos.
It gets even more complicated since i tried to open some of the many catalogues i have and it wants to update them, so i did that. now i have even more catalogues.
i checked the XMP files in hopes of seeing a catalogue name there, but i don't.
is there a way to recover from this mess. 10+ years of files are floating around as orphans, i think....
any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thank you
Jul 2, 2015
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
The only logical thing you can do is find the latest catalog. Catalogus do not disappear just like that. Because simply opening a catalog in Lightroom will already update its modification date, you probably can't completely rely on that, but it can still give you an idication. Look for a catalog with a modification date shortly before your trip took place. Another thing is obviously the size of the catalog. Even though the images themselves aren't inside your catalog, each image is a record in the database so a 600,000 image catalog will be a lot bigger than a 160,000 images catalog.

Finally, if you try to open a catalog and Lightroom says it needs to upgrade it, then don't. This is an old catalog, so not the one you are looking for. As you noticed, it will only increase the mess if you let Lightroom create yet another catalog.