Today’s Question: I accidentally renamed a top folder in Windows Explorer that contained some subfolders holding photographs. Those photographs were imported into Lightroom Classic previously. The images show up on the LR Library screen, but in the Develop module Lightroom cannot find the files. I experimented with correcting this by deleted the images in one subfolder but did not delete them from the hard drive. I then imported the deleted photos into Lightroom and that was successful. Is there a better way to address this problem?
Tim’s Quick Answer: This issue could have been resolved more easily, and without the risk of losing any information about your photos, by either renaming the parent folder to its original name through your operating system or by reconnecting that folder within Lightroom Classic.
More Detail: First and foremost, this issue could have been solved very easily by either not renaming the folder outside of Lightroom Classic, or by renaming the folder back to its original name as soon as the error was realized.
In this particular case I suspect part of the confusion was caused by the parent folder not actually containing any photos. In other words, Lightroom Classic would be showing you the subfolders that contain photos but would not show the parent folder that contains those subfolders. As a result, it would not be obvious that you could reconnect the full set of subfolders in one operation. Even if you had not realized this, the individual folders could have been reconnected, ensuring that no information about your photos may have been lost.
To reveal the empty parent folder, you can right-click on one of the subfolders and choose “Show Parent Folder” from the popup menu. That will reveal the parent folder, which in this case will also appear as missing. You can then right-click on the parent folder and choose “Find Missing Folder” from the popup menu. Then navigate to the location where the original parent folder (which had been renamed) is stored. Select that folder and click the Choose button. In this case Lightroom Classic will generally reconnect not only the parent folder you right-clicked on, but any subfolders as well. If any of those subfolders don’t get reconnected, you can right-click on each as needed to use the “Find Missing Folder” command for each of those folders.
The reason it is important to reconnect missing folders or photos rather than re-importing them is that using the import approach may cause you to lose information about the photos. If you had not enabled the option to automatically save metadata, you would have lost updates made in Lightroom Classic such as assigning star ratings, adding keywords, and applying adjustments.
Even with the option enabled to automatically write metadata to the photos, certain Lightroom-specific features would still be lost, such as membership in collections, virtual copies, history, and pick and reject flags.
And again, the key lesson is that when you are using Lightroom Classic to manage your photos, all tasks related to your photos should be initiated from within Lightroom Classic, not through the operating system or other software.
You can learn more about cleaning up organizational problems in Lightroom Classic with my “Cleaning Up Your Mess in Lightroom Classic” course here: