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How to Recover Missing Photos in Lightroom Classic?

Summary: Do you want to recover your photos from Adobe Lightroom Classic? Read this post to learn different methods to recover missing photos from Adobe Lightroom Classic.


“Yesterday, when I opened my Adobe Lightroom Classic software on my Windows PC, I found a question mark on a folder present in the Folders panel. Even, the photos in the grid view and filmstrip had exclamation marks. When I clicked the Develop module, I got the error message ‘The file could not be found.’ Please help recover missing photos in Lightroom Classic.”

Adobe Lightroom Classic is a graphics editor that helps you to edit, organize your photos smartly on Windows PC. But sometimes you may find inadvertent hitches while using the application that need immediate attention.

In this blog, we’ll share the common reasons behind the missing photos in Lightroom Classic. We’ll also share how to recover deleted photos and access them in Lightroom Classic.

Why Missing Photos in Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom Classic uses catalog—a database file with the extension of .lrcat. The file contains records that include references to photos imported from an internal or external storage drive location. And if the reference is broken, Lightroom Classic can’t locate the images. It displays question mark in an unlinked folder and exclamation marks in the grid view thumbnails, as illustrated next.

Why Lightroom Classic Photos Go Missing?

Also, Lightroom Classic throws an error message when you click the Develop module for the unlinked photo, as shown below.

After Clicking develop mode Lightroom Classic throws an error message

Your Lightroom Classic photos go missing when you:

  • Move the referenced folder or pictures from its original location.
  • Rename the related folder or photos from File Explorer.
  • Eject the associated external storage medium and make it offline.
  • Delete the linked folder or any photos contained in it from File Explorer.

Unlike Lightroom, Lightroom Classic doesn’t use cloud storage to sync the photos stored on local computer. So, in the case of Lightroom Classic, deleted pictures can’t be recovered from cloud storage.

Methods to Recover Missing Photos in Lightroom Classic

Locate missing folders from Lightroom Classic

When a folder present in the Folders panel of Lightroom Classic has a question-mark icon (?), do the following to locate the missing folder from the storage drive and restore links to the catalog:

  1. Right-click on the folder that has a question mark icon.
  2. From the context menu, choose “Find Missing Folder.” Recover Missing Photos in Lightroom Classic
  3. Navigate to the file path and click Choose.

Locate missing photos from Lightroom Classic

If a photo present in the Grid View of Lightroom Classic has an exclamation-mark icon (!), do the following to locate the missing picture from the storage drive and restore links to the catalog:

  1. Click the exclamation-mark icon present on the thumbnail of the photo.
  2. From the dialog box, note the name from the last known location of the missing photo.
  3. Press Windows key then type the missing photo’s name to search via Taskbar.
  4. When you find the photo, note down its current location.
  5. On the dialog box, click Locate. Locate missing photos from Lightroom Classic
  6. Navigate to the noted file path and then click Select.
  7. In the locate dialog box, ensure “Find nearby missing photos” is selected.

Locate Missing Photo - Find nearby missing photos

Move folders or photos back to its correct location

In case you have moved the linked folder or any contained photo by using File Explorer, you can alternatively place it in its exact referenced location rather than specifying the new location from Lightroom Classic. Steps are as follows:

In case you have moved the linked folder or any contained photo by using File Explorer, you can alternatively place it in its exact referenced location rather than specifying the new location from Lightroom Classic. Steps are as follows:

  1. Find the last known location of the missing photo from Lightroom Classic.
  2. Open File Explorer. Select “This PC” from the left pane then type the name of the file or folder in the Search box. Lightroom Classic - Move folders or photos back to its correct location
  3. Select the file or folder and click “Open file location.Lightroom Classic - Open File Location
  4. Move the folder or photo to its correct referenced location.

Rename photos as referenced by Lightroom Classic

If you have changed the name of the linked photo from File Explorer, you need to rename it with its correct name, as referenced in Lightroom Classic. Steps are as follows:

  1. From the previous location of the missing photo in Lightroom Classic, note the location and name of the picture.
  2. Navigate to the location and rename the photo as referenced in the software.

Restore deleted photos from your Recycle Bin

When you have accidentally deleted a referenced folder or any contained photos from File Explorer, perform the following:

  1. Open Recycle Bin from Desktop.
  2. Search the required folder or photos.
  3. Select the items and click Restore. Restore deleted photos from your Recycle Bin

In case you have emptied your Recycle Bin, recover the lost photos from a backup.

Restore deleted photos by using the backup drive

If you can’t find the deleted photos, you can use File History backup drive to restore them. Steps are as follows:

  1. Connect File History backup drive on your computer.
  2. Press the Windows logo key and type ‘file history.’ Select “Restore your files with File History.”  Restore deleted photos by using the backup drive
  3. On the File History window, search the photo that you want to restore from the search box.
  4. Navigate forward or backward in time to find the right version and click Restore.
  5. Once you restore the missing photos, close the File History window.

Recover deleted photos by using a photo recovery software

In case you can’t find the deleted photos on your computer or your backup, you can use a photo recovery software to recover deleted photos. Steps are as follows:

  1. Download and install the *trial version of Stellar Photo Recovery software on your PC.
  2. Launch the software.
  3. From the “Select Location” screen, specify the storage drive wherein the photos got deleted. Toggle on “Deep Scan” then click Scan.Stellar Photo Recovery Standard
  4. Click “Turn On Preview” to show files while scanning.
  5. After the scanning process is complete, search and preview the missing photos. Select the required photos then click Recover.Stellar Photo Preview Screen
  6. Select a distinct save location then click Save.
  7. Once the photos are recovered, open Lightroom Classic then select the new reference location. Alternatively, move the photos to its previous location.
  8. Use Lightroom Classic to edit and organize your photos as usual.

Note: The trial version of the software allows you to scan and preview. To save the recoverable files you need to activate the software.

Photo Recovery photo recovery mac

 

Bonus Tips

  • Always do changes through Lightroom Classic to avoid referencing error.
  • Keep a photo recovery software handy to recover deleted photos.

Conclusion

This blog shared a variety of methods to recover missing photos in Lightroom Classic. It also shared the reasons why photos go missing in Lightroom Classic. And if you keep the folder(s) and photo(s) in its right reference location, you won’t find any trouble using the application.

In case you’ve deleted your photos, you can use File History to restore permanently deleted files. But, if you don’t have a backup or the backup was taken before data loss, then you can try out a photo recovery software to recover missing photos from the storage drive. Subsequently, re-reference those photos from Lightroom Classic.

 

Comments(6)
  1. Candie looney January 22, 2020
    • Sumona Chatterjee January 23, 2020
  2. Deanne Mroz December 20, 2019
    • Sumona Chatterjee December 23, 2019
  3. Ross McKillop November 18, 2019
    • Sumona Chatterjee November 19, 2019

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