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How to recover deleted photos from Lightroom?

Explorer ,
Feb 24, 2018

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I accidentally deleted photos from lightroom. Unfortunately, I did a delete from disk and don't have a copy of the photos on my computer as well. Is there a way to recover the deleted photos?

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Correct answer by Just Shoot Me | Adobe Community Professional

Look in the Recycle Bin, Windows, or the Trash, Mac. Restore the images to there original folders and then reimport them into LR.

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How to recover deleted photos from Lightroom?

Explorer ,
Feb 24, 2018

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I accidentally deleted photos from lightroom. Unfortunately, I did a delete from disk and don't have a copy of the photos on my computer as well. Is there a way to recover the deleted photos?

Adobe Community Professional
Correct answer by Just Shoot Me | Adobe Community Professional

Look in the Recycle Bin, Windows, or the Trash, Mac. Restore the images to there original folders and then reimport them into LR.

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Feb 24, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 24, 2018

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Look in the Recycle Bin, Windows, or the Trash, Mac. Restore the images to there original folders and then reimport them into LR.

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Feb 24, 2018 1
Explorer ,
Feb 24, 2018

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Thank you! My thrash had all the images, but I have lost all the editing. Is there a way to restore the edits I did on the photos?

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Feb 24, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 24, 2018

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No. When you delete them from the Lightroom, that removes them from the catalog, and that removes all the editing as well. It will be necessary for you to import the images again and edit them again. The same would have been true even if you had just removed them from Lightroom. Doing so removes the images from the catalog, and that removes all of the edit history for those images.

UNLESS you have a backup catalog that you can restore that has those images in place. But then, any images that were added after that back up would not be included. And if you do have the backup catalog that you can restore, it would be well if you can restore the images to the same folder they were in before they were deleted.

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Feb 24, 2018 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 24, 2018

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That's what happens when you remove images from the catalog.

So no there isn't

Even if you had the option checked to Auto Write changes to XMP once you Delete From Disk LR also deletes the XMP files.

Not sure how you accidentally deleted them. There is a prompt dialog box that gives you the option to Delete from Disk, Remove (Which just removed the images from the catalog) and also has a Cancel button to stop that action.

With either the first 2 option the edits done to the images will also be removed from the catalog file.

I suggest you pay more attention to the dialog boxes that come up when you are working in LR.

Also if you wanted to delete one image but you had multiple images selected the dialog box that comes up with those 3 options, Delete from Disk, Remove and Cancel, lists the number of images this action will be performed on.

Delete conformation.PNG

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Feb 24, 2018 3
Explorer ,
Feb 24, 2018

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Thanks. After importing the photos I opened the last backup of the catalog. Of course many of the edits done post that backup are lost now and so are the edits I did on my phone. But editing some 100 odd photos is way better than editing 1000+ . Thanks for your answer.

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Feb 24, 2018 0
Explorer ,
Feb 24, 2018

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Thanks for your reply.

Yes I was too unmindful to notice the message on prompts and blindly clicked on delete from disk. I should definitely be more careful next time.

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Feb 24, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 24, 2018

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A late-comer answer to the question-

Victoria Bampton (aka the Lightroom Queen) has just such an article about restoring selected images and their edits from a backup catalog-  https://www.lightroomqueen.com/partial-restore-backup-catalog/

The method is basically-

1. Restore the original files (from trash or backups)  to their original folder location.

2. Open a Backup Catalog (extracted from the zip) and select the restored photos to "Export AS A CATALOG"

3. Open the current working catalog and "Import FROM ANOTHER CATALOG" bringing in the edits from the temporary catalog that was exported in step#2..

Regards. My System: Lr-Classic 10.0, Photoshop 22.0.1, Lightroom 4.0, Windows-10 Nikon DSLR.

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Feb 24, 2018 5
Explorer ,
Feb 25, 2018

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Thank you for your response. I followed the exact steps to recover my photos and edits.

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Feb 25, 2018 0
Advocate ,
Feb 27, 2018

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It's unfortunately very common to accidentally delete files, johnj84 - you are not alone. The typical scenario is where you are unaware that you have many photos selected in the grid. You want to delete one so you click in the thumbnail of that one, thinking that you are selecting it, then you hit the Delete key and choose Delete from Disk without reading the warning - because you have done this task so many times before. Unfortunately clicking in the thumbnail of the one didn't deselect all the others that you had selected.

I therefore recommend to always click in the gray border around the thumbnail to select an image - this breaks apart any previous selection.

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Feb 27, 2018 4
Explorer ,
Mar 01, 2018

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Thanks for your response Laura. That's a great tip you provided.

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Mar 01, 2018 0
Advocate ,
Mar 02, 2018

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You're welcome, johnj84​!

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Mar 02, 2018 1
Explorer ,
May 25, 2019

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This is exactly what happened to me.  Fortunately I realized my mistake before emptying the trash.  The procedure saved my life (I mean my photos and all their edits).  Thank you!

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May 25, 2019 0
Explorer ,
May 25, 2019

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Thank you so much!  This saved me re-editing many photos.

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May 25, 2019 0
Community Beginner ,
Jul 12, 2020

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I did just that right now. Pretty funny this is the typical scenario. 

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Jul 12, 2020 0
New Here ,
Jul 23, 2018

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Mine are not in the trash! I have a MAC, and they are not in the trash in my doc. Is there another trash particular to Lightroom, and if so where is it? Thanks so much! I accidentally deleted the only photos from my 25th wedding anniversary.

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Jul 23, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 23, 2018

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Anne-Marie

Restore from backup is an option for you?

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Jul 23, 2018 0
New Here ,
Jul 23, 2018

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No - this is a new computer and I haven't set up a back up yet...

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Jul 23, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 23, 2018

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When you delete from the computer from within Lightroom, Lightroom uses the operating system recycle bin or trash. If the images aren't there then I don't know where they would be.

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Jul 23, 2018 0
Advocate ,
Jul 23, 2018

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Anne Marie, are you using the new cloud-based Lightroom CC, or Lightroom Classic? I ask only because Lightroom CC doesn't send files to the trash (and they aren't recoverable from the cloud) - once you delete them, they really are gone.

Regardless, do you still have the photos on memory cards?

@Just Shoot Me, true that the XMP files would go to the trash also - but they can be restored along with the photo files, so some work would be recoverable.

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Jul 23, 2018 0
New Here ,
Jul 23, 2018

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Yes I am using CC. I did another “sample delete” of a photo I didn’t care about, and then read more carefully that they were permanently deleted.

Thanks so much for your reply. I guess there’s always our 26th anniversary.

Anne-Marie

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Jul 23, 2018 0
Advocate ,
Jul 24, 2018

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I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your anniversary photos, Anne Marie. I would recommend reading my article, Urgent: Don't Use Lightroom CC Until You Read This - not only does it warn cloud-based Lightroom CC users about deleted photos not going into Trash, but more importantly for you, it also explains why it is so easy to accidentally delete photos - understanding this should help you going forward.

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Jul 24, 2018 0
Advocate ,
Jul 24, 2018

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One more thing, Anne Marie - is there any chance that you reformatted the memory cards but haven't yet used them again? If that's the case, there are lots of low-cost recovery applications out there.

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Jul 24, 2018 0
Advocate ,
May 25, 2019

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For those who have accidentally deleted files from the simplified cloud-based Lightroom (CC) application within the past 60 days, as of May 2019 you can now recover them: go to lightroom.adobe.com (Lightroom Web), log in, then click on the Deleted collection. To recover an individual file, click on the back (arrow) icon in the bottom left of the thumbnail. To recover many at once, place checkmarks in the top right corner of the thumbnails, then hit the back icon in the blue bar above the grid. Then click on Restore. It may take some time for the restored photos to sync back down to your Lightroom application.

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May 25, 2019 2
Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2019

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Do you know why this is only in the web version? Why is this 60 day recovery of deleted photos not available with the iPad app or desktop app?

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Jun 09, 2019 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 24, 2019

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Thank you @laura_Shoe! This helped me out!!

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Nov 24, 2019 0
New Here ,
Oct 30, 2018

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I have had a problem with deleted images not going to Trash after upgrading to Mojave. A terrific woman with Adobe fixed it.

For whatever reason my external drive was not communicating with "Trash" so she opened the drive, added a new folder "unnamed folder" and deleted it to Trash. Voila !! Images from that drive now deleted with Lightroom go to Trash as they should.

The external drive now talks to Trash - so the problem is not with Lightroom but with Mojave.

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Oct 30, 2018 4
New Here ,
May 22, 2019

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So thankful for this "problem."  I am running High Sierra and I followed your instructions, adding a folder to my external drive, trashing it, and voilà, the deleted imaged showed up in the trash can. Amazing!

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May 22, 2019 0
New Here ,
Dec 12, 2019

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Thanks so much for this tip! This trick of creating a folder on the external drive and moving it to the trash allowed me to then see in the trash the image I had accidentally deleted (I thought I was deleting only the Soft Proof image but the actual image raw file was deleted instead).

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Dec 12, 2019 0