Understanding LR instructions--where are they located; what to do when lost due to disc crash

bill65

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#1
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I had my copies for two lightroom catalogs on a remote disc which has crashed. I am unable to locate the originals of these instructions on my mac computers and LR was using the backups with no problems for over two years. I do have backups of all the pictures on another drive and could build new catalogs but would lose all the information about the editing I have already done and my collections, slide shows, keywords, etc. As of now I am unable to get into the current information for any pictures I have taken since mid 2016 until a week ago.
 

bill65

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Lightroom is a non-destructive editor. That means all the edits (and added metadata like keywords) are stored in the catalog. If you lose your catalog(s), then they are gone.
Yes, I understand that. But the original of the instructions file, which mac has "hidden since the start of OS10" should be available and I can not find it. Also I use time machine, both on my hard drive and most of my remote drives and can't seem to access that properly either. I'm assuming this is more of an Apple issue than Lightroom and am hoping someone can help. Thanks.
 

JohanElzenga

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I'm pretty sure you are talking about the hidden user Library folder. Lightroom stores preferences and presets in there. It does not contain the Lightroom edits or metadata like keywords, however. It is useless when you've lost your catalogs.
 

bill65

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Would Apple have a hidden user library folder for Adobe to use--or is it actually an Adobe library? Also, I can no longer access my preferences on storage locations and other items within Lightroom. Do you know how to do that?

I certainly hope we discover a way to find my lost instructions as I have a lot of collections, slide shows and keywords and had almost completed a book on a trip we took in 2017, all of which are in those instructions. I would think that Adobe and the experts like Scott Kelby and the Lightroom Queen would emphasize the need for triple back up on these instructions if they are so critical.

Thanks for your responses.
 

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You can hope as much as you like, and I understand you are reluctant to give up hope, but it's the way it is. Your hidden user Library folder (an Apple folder) has nothing to do with this and digging into it to find your 'lost instructions' is a waste of time. You won't find anything in there that can help you retrieve your edits if you've lost your catalogs.

If you still don't believe me and want to try anyway, be my guest. The way to unhide that folder is as follows. Hold down the Option key and then select the 'Go' menu in the Finder. The library folder should now be listed. Select it to open it, then go to Application Support, then Adobe, and then Lightroom.

would think that Adobe and the experts like Scott Kelby and the Lightroom Queen would emphasize the need for triple back up on these instructions if they are so critical.
I'm sure they do emphasize the importance of making catalog backups, and I'm sure they also tell you not to create these backups on the same disk as your catalog, because a disk crash will destroy both the original as well as the backups. As you discovered the hard way.
 

bill65

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Thanks for your help. I did check the hidden folder with no success. My hope now is that I can find the proper instructions in Time Machine or someone at Apple cantle me where the originals of my instruction file are located. They used to be in Pictures within Finder. I'll stay with it until there are no options, but my Apple backup should have it.
 

JohanElzenga

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Thanks for your help. I did check the hidden folder with no success. My hope now is that I can find the proper instructions in Time Machine or someone at Apple cantle me where the originals of my instruction file are located. They used to be in Pictures within Finder. I'll stay with it until there are no options, but my Apple backup should have it.
Of course you had no success with that hidden folder. I told you you wouldn't, but you don't seem to believe me. You keep talking about 'the originals of my instruction file' and I keep telling you that there is only your Lightroom catalog. But again you don't want to believe me, so it seems.

Time Machine makes backups of your internal disk. It can also backup an external one as well, but it won't do so by default. If your catalog was stored in your Pictures folder in the past, then it is indeed possible that you could find an old catalog copy in Time Machine. It will depend on how long ago this was (when the backup disk gets full, Time Machine will throw away old backed up files). And if you do find an old backup in Time Machine, then of course it will only contain those things that you had already done at that time.

So if you moved the catalog from your Pictures folder to the external disk several years ago, I give you little chance you'll find anything useful in Time Machine either. But if you did this less than a year ago, there may still be an old catalog you can use, so you don't have to redo every single image. Good luck.
 

Victoria Bampton

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#9
I would think that Adobe and the experts like Scott Kelby and the Lightroom Queen would emphasize the need for triple back up on these instructions if they are so critical.
Sorry to hear you didn't back up your catalog. I say it time and time again, but I can't force anyone to take notice.

Your catalog(s) have a *.lrcat extension. They hold all of the information about your photos, including all of the work you’ve done on the photos within Lightroom, so it’s essential that you include your catalog in your backups. - Source Which Lightroom files do I need to back up? blog post, also linked in newsletter subscription follow up email #1

Before we go any further, it’s essential to know how to back up your work. This includes your catalog, your original photos, and any presets and templates that you’ve created. Since all of the work you do in Lightroom is stored in your Lightroom catalog, you’ll need to ensure that it’s backed up regularly. - Source - entire backup chapter in free Lightroom Quick Start eBook and Missing FAQ books.

I hope you're able to find additional backups of your catalog.
 

bill65

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First to Johan, who has been a constant in this chain, I think you are misinterpreting and underestimating me. I'm quite knowledgeable about most Apple systems, including Time Machine. Ever since I switched from Aperture to Lightroom nearly two years ago I have been backing up my LR instructions and storing them on the same remote drive as the catalog for it's related pictures. I never moved anything out of Pictures--simply copied and transferred the copy to the applicable remote drive. I did this because we have two homes and split our time between them. I also use my wife's macBook Pro when I am at photo club or traveling, so I can only turn on the iMac for the home we are at and need the catalog instructions copy every time we go from one house to the other to "transfer LR from one iMac to the other. For some reason (I certainly did not try to do this!) about six months ago the instructions disappeared from my iMacs and LR started using the copies--which were lost for the remote drive that crashed. No picture files were lost because I do a second backup on them, both before and after my editing. Also in Time Machine I do back up the internal and external drives so there is backup there, but it is hard to get to the proper day to find the last instruction backup before the drive crashed.

So what I am missing is the editing steps I took, and my collections and slide shows--which I expect to find when I finally locate the correct Time Machine backup. Ironically, most of my keywords have been recovered as they go back to work I did on animals after an African trip in early 2017 and I found them.
By the way I went back to Kelby's wonderful book on Lightroom CC from 2015 and checked the index and reread the early chapters and find no discussion on proper care and security of the instructions. Also as I open a new catalog on a new disc as I did for 2018 a few months ago, why didn't those instructions go into Pictures, I don't recall changing anything in LR preferences ever that would change the normal handling on them.

And Victoria, I am glad I discovered you and appreciate your work on LR. I will read the sections you have referred to me--and this will never happen again!
 

JohanElzenga

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First to Johan, who has been a constant in this chain, I think you are misinterpreting and underestimating me. I'm quite knowledgeable about most Apple systems, including Time Machine. Ever since I switched from Aperture to Lightroom nearly two years ago I have been backing up my LR instructions and storing them on the same remote drive as the catalog for it's related pictures.
Bill,
You keep talking about your 'Lightroom instructions' and your catalog as if these are two separate things. So let me turn things around and ask you a question. If these are two different things, can you please explain to me what your 'Lightroom instructions' are? Are you perhaps talking about xmp sidecar files? Sidecar files do contain edits and metadata (if you let Lightroom write changes to xmp, that is), but they don't contain things like collections, books and other stuff that is not related to a single image only, but to a catalog.
 

JohanElzenga

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P.S. if you really let Time Machine backup your internal disk and the disk that crashed, then that is great news. It should be easy to restore everything once you found the time to do that. I just wonder why you didn't say that right away, so we would not both have wasted so much time...
 

bill65

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What I have been referring to that is difficult for me to locate is what Victoria Brampton referred to in her posting as "*.lrcat extensions" and which we in a photo club I belong to call "instructions." Sorry if I confused you with this term. Yes they should be in Time Machine, but I don't know when I last posted anything to the crashed disc since it was for 2016 and 2017 and we left our other home on Feb 26 to escape the cold weather. I believe that is what you felt I should be able to locate in Pictures? But I cannot and do not understand why I no longer have a file with this stuff in Pictures. Do you have any idea how I can reset this to show up in Pictures? I will do a deep dive on all my backed up .lrcat files this week and hope I get lucky and locate the right date for the last use of the 2016, 2017 files.
 

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I suggest you read that part again. The .lrcat extension is the file extension of your Lightroom catalog file. You do not have multiple “lrcat extensions”, you just have one catalog file with .lrcat as its file extension. I can't tell you how or why you lost this file, but it should not be difficult to find a backup copy in Time Machine.
 

bill65

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Now I am confused. I have a LR catalog for each year, so don't I have a separate extension for each catalog?
 

JohanElzenga

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Now I am confused. I have a LR catalog for each year, so don't I have a separate extension for each catalog?
No, you don't. The extension is the part behind the period in the file name. That applies to any type of file, not just the catalog file. The extension tells the systems what kind of file it is. A jpeg image could be called “birthday shot.jpg”. The file extension is “.jpg”.

The file extension of a Lightroom catalog file is always “.lrcat”, so if you create a new catalog called “My Lightroom Catalog” for example, then Lightroom will create a folder called “My Lightroom Catalog” and inside that folder you'll find the catalog file which will be called “My Lightroom Catalog.lrcat”.
 

bill65

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I think I agree with you and always have. I have a LR Catalog named Lightroom, 2016-2017. I also have a LR catalog named Lightroom, 2018. so don't I have two separate catalogs and two separate extensions? If so shouldn't those extensions be automatically showing up in my Pictures file (as well as any other back up which i choose to copy them to)?
 

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I think I agree with you and always have. I have a LR Catalog named Lightroom, 2016-2017. I also have a LR catalog named Lightroom, 2018. so don't I have two separate catalogs and two separate extensions? If so shouldn't those extensions be automatically showing up in my Pictures file (as well as any other back up which i choose to copy them to)?
No, you still don't understand. You still talk about extensions as if these are separate things, but they are not. The extension is the last part of a file name. Please read my previous message again.

If you have two catalogs, one called “Lightroom, 2016-2017” and the other one called “Lightroom, 2018”, then you should have a file called “Lightroom, 2016-2017.lrcat” and a file called “Lightroom, 2018.lrcat”. That means that you do have two catalogs, and both catalog files have the same .lrcat extension because both are Lightroom catalog files.
 

bill65

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Let me try this a different way. I do have backups of all the pictures on separate, additional remote drives. I can look at the original import of any picture as well as its edited version as I copy them at both stages, But those pictures are only part of the story. The actual LR catalog also contains the information about the changes I have made in editing. This information is what is supposed to be in Pictures. Since I have chosen to keep my actual pictures in remote drives to save space on my hard drive and create redundant files, they have been removed from the Pictures file but the information should still be under the catalog identification, e.g., "Lightroom, 2018.lrcat." In order to authorize a second computer for LR I must have a copy of that Lightroom, 2018.lrcat as well as the drive containing the pictures. So I have parts of a single LR catalog stored in two separate locations.

That is consistent with how I have changed from the iMac in each home to the other when I moved back and forth 6 times since I started using Lightroom in mid-2016.

I still need help trying to restore the Pictures file as my normal location for my .lrcat extension
 

JohanElzenga

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Let me try this a different way. I do have backups of all the pictures on separate, additional remote drives. I can look at the original import of any picture as well as its edited version as I copy them at both stages, But those pictures are only part of the story. The actual LR catalog also contains the information about the changes I have made in editing. This information is what is supposed to be in Pictures. Since I have chosen to keep my actual pictures in remote drives to save space on my hard drive and create redundant files, they have been removed from the Pictures file but the information should still be under the catalog identification, e.g., "Lightroom, 2018.lrcat." In order to authorize a second computer for LR I must have a copy of that Lightroom, 2018.lrcat as well as the drive containing the pictures. So I have parts of a single LR catalog stored in two separate locations.

That is consistent with how I have changed from the iMac in each home to the other when I moved back and forth 6 times since I started using Lightroom in mid-2016.

I still need help trying to restore the Pictures file as my normal location for my .lrcat extension
Bill,
Previously you said I underestimated your Macintosh knowledge, so let me be blunt and ask you this question. Do know how to use Time Machine to restore something from a backup, or don't you? If you do know that and you had two Lightroom catalogs and you even know their names, then why don't you just go into Time Machine and go through all the backups of your Pictures folder until you've found them?
 

bill65

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I do and I have started that process. I have never had to locate something in time machine but since they were on one remote drive it isn't that big a deal.
So do you agree with my statement concerning the catalog files or not? Also do you have any advice as to how I restore the process of putting the .lrcat on Pictures?
 

JohanElzenga

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Also do you have any advice as to how I restore the process of putting the .lrcat on Pictures?
Just use Time Machine to restore them in their old place. That's the advantage of Time Machine. If you find a folder called 'Lightroom, 2018' (with inside it the 'Lightroom, 2018.lrcat' file and also something called 'Lightroom, 2018 Previews.lrdata', then restore that entire folder.

So do you agree with my statement concerning the catalog files or not?
Your basic understanding is correct, but you still struggle a bit with some definitions. I didn't want to go into detail because it was irrelevant for the question how to restore the catalog, but now that you ask me to, here are my comments:

Let me try this a different way. I do have backups of all the pictures on separate, additional remote drives. I can look at the original import of any picture as well as its edited version as I copy them at both stages, But those pictures are only part of the story. The actual LR catalog also contains the information about the changes I have made in editing. This information is what is supposed to be in Pictures. Since I have chosen to keep my actual pictures in remote drives to save space on my hard drive and create redundant files, they have been removed from the Pictures file but the information should still be under the catalog identification, e.g., "Lightroom, 2018.lrcat." In order to authorize a second computer for LR I must have a copy of that Lightroom, 2018.lrcat as well as the drive containing the pictures. So I have parts of a single LR catalog stored in two separate locations.
First of all 'Pictures' is folder, not a file. Secondly, you seem to think that the 'Lightroom catalog' is the combination of your pictures and your catalog file, hence your idea that you have "parts of a single LR catalog stored in two separate locations". Although this could be considered semantics only, that is not true. Your pictures are not considered to be a part of the Lightroom catalog. They are separate. The Lightroom catalog is just a single database file (that file with the .lrcat extension) and one or two support files with a .lrdata extension. They are normally stored in a folder carrying the same name, but that is not absolutely necessary. You could have multiple catalogs with their support files all in one and the same folder.

I often compare a Lightroom catalog with an address book. Your images are your friends. They live in their own houses (the folders where the images are stored). Your Lightroom catalog is your address book. When you say "all my friends are in my address book", then you obviously do not mean that they are physically inside that book somehow, but that you have all the information you need (addresses, phone numbers, birthdays) in that book. That's what the Lightroom catalog is too. It's an 'address book of your images", containing all the information (including edits) of your images, but not the images themselves.
 

bill65

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Johan,

Very good explanation. There is really nothing new to my thinking in there but the fact that the actual pictures are not part of the file. Your comparison with an address book is very good. I will find my proper .lrcat files and the accompanying pieces as I am very familiar with them. And I will be much more careful with the catalog in the future as I keep old catalogs too long after an update is created following updates by me. They pollute my opportunity to select the current catalog in LR.

I admit to being sloppy about Folders and Files. I do understand them but am not clear normally. This is not just in LR.

Thanks for your help. Sorry if I was being too persistent, but I really was looking for the description that would resonate--and I did get it.