Reconnecting Lightroom


Today’s Question: I am using Lightroom [non-cloud version] with external hard disk. Due to a problem with my computer, Lightroom lost the connectivity with this external drive and I am not sure how to establish that connectivity again. Can you recommend a solution?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this type of situation the solution is to make sure the external hard drive has the same drive letter (on Windows) or volume label (on Macintosh) as it did before your computer problem occurred.

More Detail: This is a question I have addressed previously in the Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, but because it is a somewhat common question that actually has a relatively simple solution, I wanted to address it again.

With Lightroom your photos are stored separately from your catalog. The catalog references the photos by their storage location and filename. This is why it is critical to not rename files or folders outside of Lightroom. Put simply, when you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, you want to initiate all image-management tasks from within Lightroom.

If you experience a problem with your computer or make changes to an external hard drive, it is possible that the drive will have a different identifier (drive letter or volume label) than Lightroom is expecting. This is an especially common issue on Windows, because changing the order in which you plug in external hard drives can cause those drives to be assigned different drive letters.

Macintosh users can essentially just rename the hard drive on their computer to match the name Lightroom is expecting. This name is the volume label, which is how the Macintosh operating system tracks your individual drives.

For Windows users you’ll need to set the drive letter for the external hard drive to match what Lightroom shows for that drive on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module. You can get instructions for changing a drive letter for a hard drive on the Microsoft website here: