Photos Missing from LR Catalog; Not in Designated Folders in Apple Finder

Explorer ,
Jan 11, 2022 Jan 11, 2022

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Six consecutive months' of my photos, organized in some 25 date-identified folders and stored on my Macbook computer can no longer be found.  The images, some sharp and some blurred, appear in the Library function in the current version of Lightroom, but cannot be modified or (presumably) exported.  The relevant folders in Apple Finder have no contents.  

 

In contrast, photos taken since late 2019 and stored on my Mac computer, are available, as are photos taken prior to that period and stored on an external hard drive.

 

Attached is a screenshot of the photos in Library mode.

 

Any suggestions?  Thanks!

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LEGEND ,
Jan 11, 2022 Jan 11, 2022

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[This post contains formatting and embedded images that don't appear in email. View the post in your Web browser.]

 

Perhaps the missing photos got accidentally moved somehow. Use Finder to search for six or so of the missing file names:

johnrellis_0-1641963073299.png

 

Be sure to select This Mac, and make sure any external drives you've used for your LR photos are connected.

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 11, 2022 Jan 11, 2022

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Thanks John...

 

Following your directions, the images pop up but only as locked single images.  Any way to get them back into Lightroom?

 

Roger

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 12, 2022 Jan 12, 2022

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The search that John suggested locates the image(s). You do not have to 'get them into Lightroom', because they are already imported. You just have to tell Lightroom where to find the images, now that you know where they are. You can probably do that by 'relinking' to top folder. Here's how: https://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroom-photos-missing-fix/

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Explorer ,
Jan 13, 2022 Jan 13, 2022

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Thanks.  The link takes you through a sequence of what-ifs, but to cut to the chase I can state that the original folders still exist, without question marks in the Lightroom library.  However in Finder those folders contain no contents and the displayed photos in Lightroom are just previews with exclamation marks.  Backups and unpurged memory cards don't exist.

 

Can someone confirm that trying to save the previews is the only game available, and that a plug-in eases the process?  Since the linked article dates from 2014, can someone suggest an up-to-date plug-in if things have changed? 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Lightroom is like an address book. It does not physically contain any images, only links to where they are and information (metadata) about them. The fact that you still see the images in Lightroom but with exclamation marks is like having a friend in your address book who moved away, but did not let you know. Your address book still contains his previous address, but he no longer lives there.

 

So the question is where those 'friends' (your images) moved to. If you can find them, then the link I gave you explains how to 'reconnect' them. If they got deleted and you don't have a backup, then there is little that you can do. In that case your only choice is indeed a plugin that can extract the previews, because those are all you have left. I can't recommend a particular plugin, because fortunately I have never been in need of one, but I think most of them should still work. I don't think the previews package was ever changed by Adobe.

 

-- Johan W. Elzenga

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Explorer ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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Well, I did download the recommended plug-in and it works almost effortlessly.  Hats off to the author!  The only problem is that most of my preview images are blurred in standard size and are sent to the designated folder only as tiny thumbnails.  Strangely, a minority of images are crisp at standard size and are saved that way.

 

I assume that I'm stuck with the poor resolution on the thumbnails.  But why would some images be standard size and others not?

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LEGEND ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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LR keeps a "pyramid" of different-sized previews, generating the different sizes as needed based on your current preferences. It may be that your catalog's preview cache just doesn't have the larger sizes for many of your photos.

 

You might also try this Adobe script:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/kb/extract-previews-for-lost-images-lightroom.html

 

It doesn't annotate the extracted images with catalog metadata like the plugin does, but it's possible that it might do a better job of finding larger previews.  (The preview database is undocumented, and the plugin author had to reverse engineer its format.)

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