I, like most photographers I know, are paranoid when it comes to back ups of their images. We know it is not a matter of ‘if’ hardware will fail but ‘when’ it will fail. Personally, I have a Mac for my works machine, but the same principles apply to Windows PCs or Linux boxes.. hardware fails, so look into your back up workflow before it all goes wrong. I would love it if the Windows and Linux crowd can add their data protection workflows to the comment section below.
Anyway, my Mac had a hardware failure while I was reorganising the file structures of my images in LR. I had full bootable back ups and hourly Time Machine back ups so at most I’d lose was one hours work. Sadly for me, that one hour was moving lots and lots of images within LR. When I restored my files from back up LR could no longer find my images.
Hundreds of my images showed the dreaded ? As seen in the image above.
The ‘?’ or message saying the file is missing or offline tells me that the Lightroom catalog no longer has a link to the underlying RAW or JPG file.
Lightroom wants to help you find these files, but it can’t find them all on its own. The first step is to find all the missing files in your LR catalog. Within the Library module, choose the Library Menu and then Find Missing Photos as shown below
depending on the size of your catalog, this may take some time to complete, but when it does, LR will show all of your missing images in one place, ready to be found.
select the first image in the missing files tab and click on the ‘?’
This will bring up a dialog box similar to this:
Select and copy the name of the file as shown above, then click Locate. The dialog box that pops up allows you to navigate your hard drives to find your missing file. This is can be very time consuming and tedious. By copying the previous filename and pasting it into the search box in the top right, the computer does the hard work of locating your missing file.
Make sure that the tick box ‘Find nearby missing photos’ is ticked. Select the correct file from the search results and click Select. The ‘Find nearby missing photos’ is a very useful in that it searches the rest of the current folder for anymore missing images, thus saving you a lot of manual leg work.
When you look at your missing photos folder now, you will find that a lot of the images no longer display a ‘?’ and LR is happy that it now knows where they are. Repeat the above until all images are now found, as shown below
I hope you find this useful and please add any comments or questions below in the comments section.
If this differs for Windows users, can you please add an explanation in the comments section