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Elements Organizer 14 and 2019 on Mac OS Keep Switching to Time Machine

Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2018

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I imported several folders on my main hard drive into Elements Organizer, first 14 and then 2019 to see if it fixed the problem. Then I opened a photo in Elements Editor and worked on it for a while. The longer I worked on it, the more likely I had this problem:

1. After closing the photo in Editor and returning to organizer, all the imported photos would go missing. The photo thumbnails would be replaced by gray boxes with a question marks, even though their location had not changed.

2. If I tried to open one in Organizer, it would say it was missing and start searching my whole hard drive for it.

3. If I browsed for the location of the "missing" file, the original location says it's on my Time Machine backup volume instead of my hard drive!

4. If I tried to reconnect the folder from my hard drive, it says it already exists in the catalog! However, the folder is not reconnected, and I can neither see the thumbnail nor open it in Organizer or Editor

5. The only way to reconnect the "missing" file is to close and reopen Organizer

This is really frustrating. There is no logical reason for this to happen. The only way I can see to prevent Organizer from switching to my Time Machine backup is to unmount it, which would defeat the purpose. I paid for Elements 14 and might consider upgrading to 2019 if it worked properly, since it supports DNG files. I can't believe there's no way to contact Adobe directly, which is another fact deterring me from upgrading. I've seen at least 2 other posts on this forum about this problem (Elements Organizer 2018 Mac - photos keep linking to time machine snapshot​ and Just installed Elements, Organizer keeps pointing to Time Machine folder....?​) but no answers. Could one of the experts please address this issue?!

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Elements Organizer 14 and 2019 on Mac OS Keep Switching to Time Machine

Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2018

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I imported several folders on my main hard drive into Elements Organizer, first 14 and then 2019 to see if it fixed the problem. Then I opened a photo in Elements Editor and worked on it for a while. The longer I worked on it, the more likely I had this problem:

1. After closing the photo in Editor and returning to organizer, all the imported photos would go missing. The photo thumbnails would be replaced by gray boxes with a question marks, even though their location had not changed.

2. If I tried to open one in Organizer, it would say it was missing and start searching my whole hard drive for it.

3. If I browsed for the location of the "missing" file, the original location says it's on my Time Machine backup volume instead of my hard drive!

4. If I tried to reconnect the folder from my hard drive, it says it already exists in the catalog! However, the folder is not reconnected, and I can neither see the thumbnail nor open it in Organizer or Editor

5. The only way to reconnect the "missing" file is to close and reopen Organizer

This is really frustrating. There is no logical reason for this to happen. The only way I can see to prevent Organizer from switching to my Time Machine backup is to unmount it, which would defeat the purpose. I paid for Elements 14 and might consider upgrading to 2019 if it worked properly, since it supports DNG files. I can't believe there's no way to contact Adobe directly, which is another fact deterring me from upgrading. I've seen at least 2 other posts on this forum about this problem (Elements Organizer 2018 Mac - photos keep linking to time machine snapshot​ and Just installed Elements, Organizer keeps pointing to Time Machine folder....?​) but no answers. Could one of the experts please address this issue?!

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 18, 2018

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I am not a Mac user, but I remember old posts by expert Barbara Brundage about not trusting Time Machine with Elements.

A quick search on the net with "forums.adobe.come ; time machine" gives at least two warnings;

reactivation after time machine restore

Applications not working after Mac Time Machine restore

If restoration through Time Machine is not possible for Adobe softwares, that's already a major problem.

In your case, I can't know exactly what is different with Windows, but the way the Organizer interacts with the OS to recognize drives is full of traps in Windows. I suspect there may be some incompatibility with time machine which makes the organizer be fooled to identify the current drive. As I said, I don't know Macs, but I seem to remember from other old posts that it was not possible to work at the same time with Time Machine and the organizer.

What does work is to use the organizer for the library and catalog, particularly for moving to a new computer and to use other softwares for disk backups or cloning. In my experience, it's very imprudent to trust a backup and restore system without testing it in a real situation. The trouble is that for such a test, you would ideally need a trusted backup before testing... which could be a real disk cloning.

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2018

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Thank you for responding. The problem I'm having doesn't have anything to do with backing up or restoring. Time Machine just happens to be a backup drive, but think of it as an external drive. Windows can also have external hard drives attached — does Elements Organizer in Windows get confused about where the original files in the catalog are stored? I don't think so. Clearly there is a problem using Elements Organizer with a Time Machine drive attached, and Adobe needs to address this problem. The solution can't be just to disconnect the Time Machine drive.

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 18, 2018

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riegelstamm  wrote

Thank you for responding. The problem I'm having doesn't have anything to do with backing up or restoring. Time Machine just happens to be a backup drive, but think of it as an external drive. Windows can also have external hard drives attached — does Elements Organizer in Windows get confused about where the original files in the catalog are stored?

Yes, my answer was clear that it was not a backup or restoring in your case, however, if that does not work it's useless to use it with Adobe softwares anyway?

Now, yes, the organizer in Windows can get confused about identifying the drives themselves, whether internal, external or in a network. That recognition is based on data stored in the OS. For instance, in Windows, it was soon found that identifying drive by a drive letter was not a valid solution since the drive letters can be changed for an external drive if the letter has been hijacked by another device while the external drive is disconnected. That's why, the external drives are also identified by their internal serial number which is stored in the catalog database.

You don't care about that in Macs, but something which may be of interest is that one of the various situations when a drive is not recognized is precisely when a drive has been cloned and reused together with the original one... the catalog is ambiguous and the troubles begin...

Not knowing exactly how the time machine works, and without any first hand experience for catalogs on Macs, I can't say more, unfortunately.

Clearly there is a problem using Elements Organizer with a Time Machine drive attached, and Adobe needs to address this problem. The solution can't be just to disconnect the Time Machine drive.

Yes, there is a such a problem, but I can't know if Adobe can address the issue, it may be logically impossible. And if you can't use time machine for backup and restore (supposing the two links I gave are right), why use time machine at all, and what can Adobe say other than there is an incompatibility?

I agree with you that Adobe should issue some tech doc about the issue, not only for the general compatibility problem, but also for the specific catalog issue which you have shown.

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Community Beginner ,
Nov 18, 2018

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In Mac OS, every drive has its own universally unique identifier (UUID) similar to the serial number in Windows, and a different mount point. Even cloned drives have different UUIDs and mount points. There just isn't any good reason for Adobe products to get confused about where files are stored.

I've posted something on the Photoshop feedback forum. Hopefully an Adobe employee will see and respond to it.

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Nov 18, 2018

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I've posted something on the Photoshop feedback forum. Hopefully an Adobe employee will see and respond to it.

It will be read (I had read it myself) but you don't get many answers for Elements questions.

I suggest to add a link in the feedback forum to the present discussion. Maybe you'll get more interest and get useful information not only from Adobe, but from Mac users of other Adobe softwares.

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Nov 18, 2018 0
Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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Ok, I think I see what is going on.

When you open Adobe Elements Organiser, it will open the directory where your media files are stored and keep it open.

Now TImeMachine comes and wants to make a backup of your system. It will create a snapshot of your Mac's disk, like a frozen point in time, and mount it on /Volumes/com.apple.TimeMachine.localsnapshots/Backups.backupdb/blahblahblah. Abode Elements Organiser still has the directory open, which is now frozen as part of this snapshot.

Now you import some new files from your camera. They get copied from the camera into your media file directory, but it is the directory on the live harddisk, not the frozen copy captured in the snapshot. The files are copied onto your harddisk, and the catalog is updated with the new filenames. Organiser now looks for these new files you just imported, but it is referring to the open filehandle on the directory that is now frozewn in the snapshot. Organiser complains that it can't see the new files in the directory it has open (since it is referring to a frozen snapshot taken before the files were copied from the camera) and then it complains that the files cannot be found. In the error message, it tells you the name of the directory it is looking into, based on the open filehandle it has, and this refers to the frozen snapshot that TimeMachine made of your harddisk, so you see in the error that it cannot find the file in the open directory at /Volumes/com.apple.TimeMachine.localsnapshots/... etc..

If you close Organiser and reopen it, the catalog is still referring to filenames based on the snapshot name, and so the files are still "missing". However, if you close Organiser, and stop the backup, then reopen Organiser, the snapshot directory is gone, and Organiser will try to reconnect your files by searching on the live harddisk. This time it finds the files, and the file connections are rebuilt.

So, what can we do? Basically, we want to store the media files on a disk or partition somewhere where TimeMachine won't be creating snapshots to back up the filesystem. Excluding the Adobe Elements directory from timemachine backups won't help, because a snapshot impacts all files/directories on the filesystem, regardless whether TimeMachine is going to make a copy or not.

So, easiest solution would be to store your media files on an external drive, and don't use TimeMachine to back up that drive. Instead, use the backup facility of Adobe Elements Organiser to do your backups to another external drive. You could probably also create a new logical APFS Volume on your internal harddisk, sharing the same container as your existing volume, and don't do TimeMachine backups on that second volume. This means no snapshots on the Adobe media directory, and so no problems to use Organiser while TimeMachine backs up your main volume. When I find some time I might give it a go and see if it works as I expect.

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Jan 03, 2019 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 03, 2019

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mattm90566428  wrote

Ok, I think I see what is going on.

When you open Adobe Elements Organiser, it will open the directory where your media files are stored and keep it open.

Now TImeMachine comes and wants to make a backup of your system. It will create a snapshot of your Mac's disk, like a frozen point in time, and mount it on /Volumes/com.apple.TimeMachine.localsnapshots/Backups.backupdb/blahblahblah. Abode Elements Organiser still has the directory open, which is now frozen as part of this snapshot.

Now you import some new files from your camera. They get copied from the camera into your media file directory, but it is the directory on the live harddisk, not the frozen copy captured in the snapshot. The files are copied onto your harddisk, and the catalog is updated with the new filenames. Organiser now looks for these new files you just imported, but it is referring to the open filehandle on the directory that is now frozewn in the snapshot. Organiser complains that it can't see the new files in the directory it has open (since it is referring to a frozen snapshot taken before the files were copied from the camera) and then it complains that the files cannot be found. In the error message, it tells you the name of the directory it is looking into, based on the open filehandle it has, and this refers to the frozen snapshot that TimeMachine made of your harddisk, so you see in the error that it cannot find the file in the open directory at /Volumes/com.apple.TimeMachine.localsnapshots/... etc..

If you close Organiser and reopen it, the catalog is still referring to filenames based on the snapshot name, and so the files are still "missing". However, if you close Organiser, and stop the backup, then reopen Organiser, the snapshot directory is gone, and Organiser will try to reconnect your files by searching on the live harddisk. This time it finds the files, and the file connections are rebuilt.

So, what can we do? Basically, we want to store the media files on a disk or partition somewhere where TimeMachine won't be creating snapshots to back up the filesystem. Excluding the Adobe Elements directory from timemachine backups won't help, because a snapshot impacts all files/directories on the filesystem, regardless whether TimeMachine is going to make a copy or not.

So, easiest solution would be to store your media files on an external drive, and don't use TimeMachine to back up that drive. Instead, use the backup facility of Adobe Elements Organiser to do your backups to another external drive. You could probably also create a new logical APFS Volume on your internal harddisk, sharing the same container as your existing volume, and don't do TimeMachine backups on that second volume. This means no snapshots on the Adobe media directory, and so no problems to use Organiser while TimeMachine backs up your main volume. When I find some time I might give it a go and see if it works as I expect.

Thanks for that detailed explanation.

That's exactly how I supposed Time Machine would work and fool the organizer to recognize temporarily the working drive.

Now, my question is again:  is it worth using Time Machine even if your last (logical) supposition for using and external drive to store media?

Even if that does not fool the organizer, does Time Machine enable you to restore your media and catalog as you are expecting?

Imagine that you have done something wrong, such as deleting a batch of photos, importing a batch of images you don't want or you have made a big organization error. Would Time Machine be able to restore to a previous state? I remember Barbara Brundage writing not to trust Time Machine for that.

So, the tests you are preparing to run will be very interesting for Mac Users (I have bookmarked this discussion).

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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That is indeed a helpful explanation. However, it begs the question, "WHY does Elements Organizer do this?" Because neither Lightroom nor Bridge have this problem. Adobe simply needs to fix this problem instead of forcing users into changing their backup workflow or the location of their image files.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 03, 2019

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The explanation is clear: It's not the organizer that does this. It's Time Machine which fools the organizer.

By the way, can you be positive that it does not fool also Lightroom (see the links in my first post).

Bridge is not a catalog management software, it may be compatible.

Adobe provides the right tool to manage backups. I am waiting for a confirmation that Time Machine can restore as required in my previous post. If it does, you simply have to choose which solution to keep.

I am afraid that if Lightroom is apt to work seamlessly with Time Machine, Adobe will see it as a good incentive for you to move to LR .

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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No, Michel, the problem is with Organizer. I'm quite positive that Lightroom does not have this problem. Neither does any other photo asset management program that I've used, including Corel Aftershot Pro, Apple Photos, digiKam, and DarkTable.

I can also confirm that one can restore files from Time Machine, also long as the snapshots still exist on the backup drive. The oldest snapshots are deleted as the drive becomes full.

I have indeed already moved to Lightroom and now use Elements only for advanced editing that can't be done within LR. While I use the backup facility in LR, my primary backup is still Time Machine. Thankfully, Adobe doesn't force users into ridiculous workarounds with LR. But they shouldn't force users to choose between Time Machine and Elements, either. After all, they still charge US$100 for it, so it ought to function properly on the operating systems that it's designed for, which includes macOS, and Time Machine is a major feature of macOS.

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Jan 03, 2019 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 03, 2019

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Ok,

Let's summarize for Mac users:

- Read this discussion and particularly post #6

mattm90566428

So, easiest solution would be to store your media files on an external drive, and don't use TimeMachine to back up that drive. Instead, use the backup facility of Adobe Elements Organiser to do your backups to another external drive. You could probably also create a new logical APFS Volume on your internal harddisk, sharing the same container as your existing volume, and don't do TimeMachine backups on that second volume. This means no snapshots on the Adobe media directory, and so no problems to use Organiser while TimeMachine backs up your main volume.

- The general idea is to choose between trusting the organizer or Time Machine.

- If you think that Adobe must make the organizer compatible with Time Machine, post or add your vote in the feedback forum:

Photoshop Family Customer Community

You'll see how many users will vote for your request, and also you may get more information from Adobe Staff or expert Adobe users. Keep in mind that the Adobe employees helping you here have no power to decide such a new feature, so it's best to post in the feedback forum where the requests are read by those who can decide. That said, I am rather pessimistic. We are already with the 17th Elements version and that has never been considered a priority. I don't know the difference between LR and the organizer relative to Time Machine, but the issue is not in the catalogs, it's in the way the organizer gets the drive location from the Mac OS. Mac users worldwide are not a majority and it seems most of them don't use the organizer. Worse, the focus for Elements is no longer to provide advanced features, see the recent faq:

What is Photoshop Elements 2019 and who is it for?

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019 is photo editing software used by anyone who wants to edit and create with their photos. It offers easy ways to get started, effortless organization, step-by-step guidance for editing, and fun ways to make and share stunning photo creations. Plus, it’s fast and easy with photo and video automation powered by Adobe Sensei AI technology. Learn more.

How does Photoshop Elements differ from Photoshop CC, Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC, and Lightroom CC software?

  • Photoshop Elements is designed for consumers who are just getting started with photo editing and want an easy way to organize, edit, create, and share their photos.

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Jan 03, 2019 1
Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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I already posted the problem to the Feedback forum here: Elements Organizer 14 and 2019 on Mac OS Keep Losing Files Because They Switch to Time Machine Drive...

For Mac users who stumble on this post, please go to that one and click on the "Me Too" button

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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Ok, I've tested out the workaround. I now have my Adobe Catalog and Media files on my Mac's internal hard disk, in a separate logical volume, and I can import files from my camera no problem while there is a TimeMachine backup of the main volume in progress. This workaround is acceptable for my use case, which is using Adobe Elements to pull in photos and video off my camera/SD card, use Organiser to manage the media and do some post-production. There may be some use cases where it is not as good a fit.

So, to answer some of the questions that came after my post:

-   Is it worth using TimeMachine to back up your catalog and media? I would not really recommend this, as you are liable to end up in a situation where the media files and catalog information are not consistent. I suggest to use the backup capability of Organiser to write out the catalog + media to an external drive, completely independently of TimeMachine. I still recommend to use TimeMachine to back up the main volume of your Mac -- this has served me well in the past when I had a Mac die, and it is especially important since the SSD drives in these Macs are now soldered directly to the motherboard -- if there is any problem in your Mac, you will probably lose your data. Having a TimeMachine backup of the main volume and a backup export from Organiser for your catalog + media will ensure you can go to the Apple store, buy a replacement Mac, and get back to where you were (ie. import the TImeMachine backup to the new Mac, then use Organiser to import the catalog and media from the Organiser backup archive).

  Note: I don't say that taking a TimeMachine backup of your media files is completely useless -- if you are working on a project it could help prevent you losing some work-in-progress in between exports, and any conflicts that arise with the catalog can be resolved manually, but it just brings us back to the TimeMachine snapshot issue that is the topic of the original post.

- Why does Elements Organiser behave in this way? My guess is that it is to do with the Watched Folder feature -- normally you would set up Organiser to watch your media folder, so that any new files added in there are automatically catalogued. Maybe if you don't use that feature and instead do a periodic scan of your media directory, you can also avoid this TimeMachine snapshot problem -- I didn't bother to test it, but this is potentially an alternative workaround that may be more appropriate for some other use cases.

- Is this the fault of Apple or Adobe? In my view, Adobe should be in a position to implement a fix for this in their software. The fact that they haven't done so despite the fact this issue was reported many releases ago suggests to me that they don't take this hobbyist market segment very seriously, and that their priorities lie more with the professional market and their cloud-based offerings.

Anyway, I'm happy to have found a work-around for this issue.

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Jan 03, 2019 2
Community Beginner ,
Jan 03, 2019

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I have uploaded a video to YouTube discussing this issue and the workaround that I mentioned above:

How to fix “Reconnect Missing Files” TimeMachine issue with Adobe Elements Organiser - YouTube

It was my first time using Adobe Premier Elements, so the editing is pretty basic, but I hope someone finds it useful.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 12, 2019

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Matt - thank you for your excellent YouTube video & written explanation of the interaction between Time Machine & PSE Organiser.  You've shown me how to work around the problemm.  It should be fixed by PSE but in mean time I'm happy to use PSE to back up Organiser & Time Machine for every thing else.  Thanks again.

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New Here ,
Mar 16, 2020

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hi - i have this problem. i store my photos in a One Drive folder (on a Mac), so that they back up to my OneDrive account. However, the source photos location (in the One Drive folder) is excluded from Time Machine - yet I still get the problem. I am thinking that it is because the PSE catalogue location is in a location that IS being backed up by Time Machine - would it help if i excluded the catalogue location from Time Machine as well?

I am not bothered about the catalogue being backed up by Time Machine.
Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 17, 2020

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I am thinking that it is because the PSE catalogue location is in a location that IS being backed up by Time Machine - would it help if i excluded the catalogue location from Time Machine as well?

As I mentioned before, I don't use Macs, but if I understand a little why Time Machine fools the organizer and OneDrive by switching to and from its own location, the first thing to do would be to exclude the catalog folder from the scope of Time Machine.

Either you set your Time Machine settings or you move the catalog folder under a folder which is not covered by TM.

The catalog location is to be found by the menu 'Help >> System Information'. You can only move it from the Finder. Once it is moved, either you navigate in the Catalog manager to the new location, or you double click (or the Mac equivalent) on the 'catalog.pse18db' file to open the organizer with the moved catalog.

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Mar 17, 2020 0