I have the photography plan, and did a bunch of edits through my still-to-be-perfected workflow. After exporting the raw's with the xmp's onto a seperate harddisk, I moved the folders with my originals from my macbook to a hard disc. Somehow I did something wrong with the collections (normally I link the collections back to the files on the hard disc by changing the path of the first image via the dreaded [!] icon, and then everything is fine. This didn't work. Now, whenever I load the folder with the originals back in the Lightroom, all my edits are gone. I might have moved something else, but am not sure.
All images where in Lightroom (not classic) as deleted, I have just in case resurrected them, but now have massiv numbers of duplicates. I also noted that most of the images I once had loaeded into Lightroom collections to sync, are stored as smaller files in the cloud. I guess these are the smart previews, which were generated into the cloud.
Any advice how I can combine my originals again with my edits and how to keep the 20GB squeekly clean (with just the images I want to work on). Help would be great.
If you move the photos using your operating system, then Lightroom Classic (which is NOT a file browser like Windows Explorer or Mac Finder) doesn't know where the photos are. That's why you get the ! icon (which, by the way, should not be "dreaded"). The very simple fix is explained here.
Better yet, don't move the photos! If you want the photos on a different hard disk, don't first put them on one disk and then later move them to a second disk. Put them on the second disk straight out of the camera. Get out of the habit of moving photos (or folders) from here to there.
If you import the photos again (better to use the word "Import" than your terminology "load the folder"), then Lightroom Classic thinks these are brand new photos it has never seen before, and your edits and user-supplied metadata are gone.
Please spend some time reading up on how the Lightroom Classic catalog works. There are plenty of tutorials on this. The Lightroom Catalog is NOT a file browser.
Thank you so much!! Yes, I moved the folder within the file system on Finder. I guess the main mistake was that I then deleted the link to the original folder within Lightroom. You live and you learn! Agreed on the don't move point... that actually is a good one which I'll take to heart. I am planning to use an Ipad Air soon as the primary editing element, and that would require a bit of hard disk discipline at the point of import from my end.
Now - is there a way to fix my mistake? I could add the XMP files to the folder with the raw images and reimport?
"I guess the main mistake was that I then deleted the link to the original folder within Lightroom."
I don't think this happened at all. The link is still there in Lightroom Classic. The folder is not there in your operating system, its somewhere else.
Reimporting is never a solution. You import photos once, when they are brand new to Lightroom Classic. This is so important I am going to say it again in capital letters: YOU IMPORT PHOTOS ONCE WHEN THEY ARE BRAND NEW TO LIGHTROOM CLASSIC. If you import them a second time, Lightroom Classic thinks they are brand new, and this doesn't help and is actually harmful. I provided a link that explains (with screen captures) how to fix the problem.