Finding Missing Photos


Today’s Question: Every so often I import photos into Lightroom before my second round of deletions. After deleting photos outside of Lightroom during that second round, I then end up with a bunch of missing photos in Lightroom. Is there any easy way to sort the photos in Lightroom so that I can remove the missing images from Lightroom all at one time? It doesn’t appear that I can use any of the filter options and it doesn’t appear that the sort options allow that possibility either.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can actually find all missing photos (and videos) in your Lightroom catalog very easily by choosing Library > Find All Missing Photos from the menu. You can then review the missing photos and remove those that you had previously deleted from your hard drive.

More Detail: In general I recommend that photographers perform all image-management work within Lightroom, in part to avoid situations where photos are missing from your Lightroom catalog. That said, I also understand that some photographers prefer using software other than Lightroom for various tasks. The ability to find all missing photos in a Lightroom catalog enables you to clean up your Lightroom catalog if you do choose to delete photos outside of Lightroom.

It is important to keep in mind that when you filter your photos to see only those that are missing, it is possible that some of the missing photos are not images that had intentionally been deleted. This is a particular concern if you tend to perform various image-management tasks outside of Lightroom.

Therefore, I highly recommend reviewing the photos found with the “Find All Missing Photos” command to make sure they are all images you intentionally deleted.

When you choose the “Find All Missing Photos” command, a “Missing Photographs” item will be created in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module in Lightroom, and that option will be selected automatically so you are viewing the photos that are missing. You can also navigate among various folders and collections, such as to confirm that your best photos from a given photo shoot remain in your catalog, and that you’ll only be deleting outtakes.

After reviewing the missing photos, if you would like to remove all of them from your Lightroom catalog (because you had previously deleted the actual image files) you can select the “Missing Photographs” item from the Catalog section of the left panel. Then choose Edit > Select All from the menu to select all of the missing photos. You can then remove all selected photos from your Lightroom catalog by pressing the Delete key on the keyboard or by choosing Photo > Remove Photos from the menu.

Because you are removing photos that have already been deleted, the confirmation dialog will only offer the option to Remove the photos or Cancel the removal, without the option to delete the photos from your hard drive.