Lightroom does an excellent job of keeping track of your images. But there are times when things don't seem to go so well. You open your catalog and several images have missing file icons or some folders appear to be missing. You scratch your head and wonder what happened.
The simple answer, in most cases, is that you or another application has moved some files and no one bothered to keep Lightroom in the loop. This can cause some confusion, especially when you try to fix the disconnect. So let's take a closer look at how all this works and interacts.
Lightroom keeps track of your images and their locations via a database (the catalog). Your operating system does pretty much the same thing. Location information is stored in some database-like table. The problem is that your operating system doesn't tell Lightroom about location and name changes. Lightroom, on the other hand, will keep your operating system informed about what it's up to.
We'll start with a basic folder and file structure.
So far so good. If you restrict your changes to Lightroom you will usually avoid problems. If you change things via the operating system then Lightroom loses track. For example, if we mover the three images files from the folder Group 2 up a level to Parent Folder the operating system will show this.
Lightroom tells you what's wrong. It also shows you the last known location for this file. You can cancel or go on to locate the missing file. Click locate and you will be brought to the next dialog which is a view to your operating system's file manager.
At the bottom of this dialog is a checkbox Find nearby missing photos. Navigate to the current location for your file. If the checkbox is left unchecked when you click Select you will see that Lightroom now knows where this one file is located.
Finding missing files is relatively easy in Lightroom. The lesson to be learned here is to make changes in Lightroom instead of the operating system. Is that a hard and fast rule? No. If you have a lot of cleanup or organizational work then by all means use the tools in your OS. Remember, though, that Lightroom will not know what you've been up to. That means there will be some work waiting for you when you get back to Lightroom.
We've examined the problem of missing files. In Part 2 we'll examine the problem of the missing folder. Stay tuned!