Why does Lightroom say my photos are missing?

//Why does Lightroom say my photos are missing?

Before we jump into the meat and potatoes of how we are going to fix the problem of missing photos. It is important to understand why this is happening in the first place. If you don’t understand this concept, you can rest assured this will happen to you time and time again, which will create stress and frustration that could have been avoided.

Lightroom is a database and it only knows what you tell it. When you add photos to the Lightroom program you are telling it that your images live in a specific place, the folder is called ‘X’ and the file name is called ‘X’. From this moment on, Lightroom believes this to be true forever more until death do you part.

The moment that you decide to move, delete or rename a folder, file or file name, you have now confused Lightroom and this will be represented with a question mark.

Question marks can also be caused if there is something going on with your hard drive (the place where your images live), for example:

  • You may have moved to another computer
  • The hard drive letter has changed (Windows) or the drive mount point has changed (Mac)
  • If the network drive isn’t working or has become enabled
  • If your photos live on an external hard drive that has stopped working or got unplugged

Now that we have shed some light on why it’s happening if you want it to stop happening the answer is really simple. Once you have imported your images into Lightroom, any changes that you wish to make should be made with the Lightroom program only.

  • If you want to move a folder, drag, and drop within Lightroom and the change will also be made on your hard drive.
  • If you want to rename a folder, right-click on the folder and choose ‘rename’ and type the new name and save.
  • If you want to rename a file, the process is the same as renaming a folder
  • If you want to delete the folder of a file, simply select it, right-click on it and choose to delete it.
    • you will be given two options or levels of deletion.
      • OPTION A: Delete from Disk, which simply means it will be deleted from both Lightroom and your hard drive.
      • OPTION B: Remove from Lightroom Only

There really is no reason to go directly to a hard drive to make these types of changes and as long as you remember and stick to this, you should be free from the fear of missing files as it relates to these examples. If files are missing for other reasons such as backup or file loss in general…..well, that is an entirely different subject altogether.

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