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Restoring edits after removing images from lightroom

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Oct 7, 2008
Orchard Park, NY
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
I accidentally emptied a folder from lightroom (but not from disk) trying to consolidate Thanksgiving photos into a parent folder. The photos disappeared so I copied them back into lightroom but now of course the edits are gone. If I choose to open with an older backup catalog these pictures will now be in a new location. Also I have imported photos since that time so I assume they won't even show up in an older catalog backup.

1. If I open an older backup catalog I assume I would see a ? mark because that folder they were in no longer exists on my computer. So if I click on find missing photos they will end up in that subfolder that I was trying to get rid of in the first place. What is the correct way to move photos into a parent folder and get rid of the subfolder? Just drag and drop the photos into the parent folder?

2. Assuming that works and I get those photos where I want them how do I get that hierarchy into my current catalog where I have other photos that have been added since I accidentally removed the Thanksgiving photos from lightroom? Is there an option to combine catalogs?

Thanks for any guidance here.
Jun 20, 2009
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Re importing is never the correct solution. If the folder structure is intact, opening a backup catalog will find the affected images where that were previously and with the previous edits. The current master catalog has additional images imported and presumably edits to them.
The solution is to use the good catalog reference to the removed folder form the backup catalog Select these images from the backup catalog and choose "Export as a Catalog". This will create a subset catalog that has your edits on the images that you removed. Next open the master catalog and use the "Import from another catalog" function to import the just exported catalog.

To illustrate:
  • Assume that you have in your filesystem three folders that have been imported into the Master catalog
    • 2012
    • 2013
    • 2014
  • In your master catalog you remove the folder named "2013" but it remains on the disk in its original position.
  • In a previous backup catalog (BackupCatalog), you have all of the edits for folders "2012", "2013" and part of the images in "2014"
  • If you select the folder "2013" in the BackupCatalog, you can use the "Export as Catalog" function to create the ExportCatalog that contains only references to the images in the folder "2013"
  • If you now open the Master catalog you can import the ExportCatalog into it and restore the references to the 2013 folder.
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