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Missing Files & Folders


When a Lightroom Can't Find a File . . .

. . . in the Library module, an exclamation-point icon appears in the upper-right corner of the preview.


Missing File

When Lightroom Can't Find a Folder . . .

Lightroom displays the same exclamation-point icon on the preview.

It also displays a question mark in the Folders panel on the left side of the Library module.


Missing Folder

In the Develop Module . . .

. . . these error messages are displayed.

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Before discussing missing files further, let's review what happens when you import photographs into Lightroom.

Importing Is Linking

We import photographs into Lightroom.

Obviously, that means the photograph files are moved into Lightroom.


The files are never moved into Lightroom.

They stay where they are—probably in Pictures or My Pictures.

Lightroom only links to the files.

Missing = Faulty Links

A file goes missing when Lightroom tries to travel on the link to the file—and can't find the file—because the links goes to nowhere.

Why can't Lightroom find the file?

The folder containing the file may have been deleted, moved, or renamed.

If the folder is unchanged, the file may have been deleted, moved, or renamed.


When In Pictures/My Pictures

When you're in Pictures or My Pictures, you can view the photographs that have been imported into Lightroom.

Don't delete, move, or rename the folders or photographs.

The Murano glassware below is like Pictures/My Pictures.

Look at the glassware—the photographs.

Don't touch them—delete, move, or rename.


Pictures/My Pictures

Touch Them In Lightroom

If you need to delete, move, or rename folders or files, go to the Library module.

Open the Folders panel on the left side.

The Folders panel is like the mud-wrestling photograph below.

Jump into the Folders panel to delete, move, or rename.


Folders Panel in the Library Module

Gather All of the Missing Files

In the Library module, go to the Library menu and select Find Missing Photos.

Find the Missing

Step #1 - Is Your Disk Disconnected?

If you store your photograph files on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure it's plugged in and mounted.

On a Windows computer, go to Computer or My Computer to see if the flash drive/external hard drive is displayed.

On a Mac, go to Finder and look for the flash drive/external hard drive under Devices on the left side of the window.

Step #2 - Is the Folder Missing?

Check if the folder has gone missing.

Do the following.

1) Open the Folders panel in the Library module.

2) If a folder has a question mark, right click on the folder tab.

3) Select Find Missing Folder.

The last-known location of the folder opens.

4) Check if the folder has been deleted, moved, or renamed.

Moved or Renamed Folder

5) Navigate to the moved or renamed folder and select it.

6) Click Select Folder in the lower-right corner of the Find Missing Folder window.

Deleted Folder

5) If the folder was deleted, go to Step #3 below.

Step #3 - Missing Files That Were Deleted

If you went to Pictures or My Pictures—and deleted files—Lightroom won't know that they were deleted.

Lightroom is still linking to the deleted files—and isn't finding them.

You have to delete the links—delete the previews—in Lightroom.

Do the following.

1) Select the previews of the files that were deleted.

2) Right click on one of the previews and select Remove Photos.

3) In the window that opens, click Remove.

Step #4 - Moved or Renamed Files

Do the following.

1) Click on the exclamation-point icon in the preview.

2) In the Confirm window, note the former location or name of the file.

3) Click Locate.

The last-known location of the file opens.

Moved File

4) Navigate to the moved file and select it.

5) Make sure Find nearby missing photos is selected.

6) Click Select in the lower-right corner of the Locate window.

Renamed File

4) Select the renamed file.

5) Click Select in the lower-right corner of the Locate window.