I originally imported photos to my PC to the W drive. I then imported them into Lightroom Location: S:\Lightroom\Working Catalog File name: Working Catalog-2-v10.lrcat
I needed to be away from home for several days and wanted to work on the photos on my laptop so I copied the photos and catalog to an external SSD Location D:\Working Catalog File name: Working Catalog-2-v10.lrcat (the same name as on my pc)
Now that I am home I have a few that need to go to Photoshop but the option was grayed out. So I tried to Find in Explorer and got the message that the file could not be used as the original file could not be found and would I like to locate it. It showed the photos in their original spot on the W drive on my pc. I clicked Locate and tried to find them on the external D drive but it only pulled up one file out of 2300 so I assumed I must have been working off of smart previews.
Here is where things are weird: if I click the same file on the external D drive in Explorer (vs from Lightroom) all my files show up whereas only one file shows up looking from Lightroom.
At this point I am thinking to just merge the catalog from the external SSD (D drive) back to the original catalog on the pc (on the S drive there). Here is my question: can I merge the two catalogs that have the same name? 99% of the edits were done on the external drive and I don't want to corrupt those by merging to a catalog with the same name (if that is how it works).
Should I create a new master catalog on my pc with a new name and merge the external drive into that? I could then point to the images on my pc. If I do that, could I also merge the catalog with the same name from the pc (which has all my prior work on it) to the new catalog? Or can I just merge both catalogs with the same name (one on external drive, one on pc) together with no issues
I don't think that the catalog name has anything to do with this, but you can simply rename one of them to make sure. What happened is that you copied the catalog and the images, but if you do that then the links in the catalog are not updated. So all the time you worked on your laptop, you indeed worked with smart previews. The catalog still pointed at the (unavailable) W drive. You can't send smart previews to Photoshop however, so when you try that you will get the missing image error.
You can merge the catalogs to solve this problem, or (if you want to continue to work on the laptop) you must 'reconnect' the image folders in the catalog on the laptop. To merge them, start Lightroom on the main conputer, choose 'Import from Another Catalog' and import the laptop catalog. To reconnect folders: https://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroom-photos-missing-fix/