Restoring Missing Photos

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Today’s Question: I have found that three days of landscape photos are missing from my [Lightroom Classic CC] catalog. I can see that I had imported them previously because they are neatly arranged by date folder on the drive where I store all my photos, yet no entry exists in my catalog for some of the photos. I am wondering how to select just three days of Lightroom edits from a prior backup catalog. I wish to avoid the risk of importing more historical data and over-writing newer files that I have created since the backup, so I only want to use those three days.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually resolve this issue quite easily by using the “Synchronize Folder” command to update Lightroom based on the contents of the hard drive you use to store your photos.

More Detail: The scenario outlined in today’s question suggests that the “missing” photos had been imported, but then removed from the Lightroom catalog. When you choose the “Remove Photo” command in Lightroom, you’re given the option to delete the files on the hard drive, or leave the files where they are and remove the photos from the catalog. It appears the latter option was selected for some photos.

In any event, this issue can be resolved quite easily using the “Synchronize Folder” command. The first step is to identify the top-level folder you want to synchronize. In theory you could synchronize the entire hard drive, but in this case you only need to synchronize enough to cover the affected date-based folders. So, for example, you could select the month (or year) folder above the folders that are missing from Lightroom.

Once you’ve identified the top-level folder you want to synchronize, you can right-click on that folder in the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module and choose the “Synchronize Folder” command from the popup menu. That will bring up the Synchronize Folder dialog. Note that when you synchronize a folder, all sub-folders will be included in that synchronization.

After the folder location has been analyzed, you can turn on the “Import new photos” checkbox so that the photos that aren’t already in your Lightroom catalog will be imported. You can also choose to remove missing photos from the catalog, and to check for metadata updates.

Once you’ve established the desired settings, you can click the Synchronize button. The photos that are on your hard drive in the selected folder (or sub-folders) but aren’t in the Lightroom catalog will be imported into your catalog. Those photos can then be browsed in the “Previous Import” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module.