Today’s Question: I have a recently created mess in Lightroom Classic. I was moving photos from one folder to another and thought I had completed the move and removed (not deleted) some photos. I am hoping that I can recover the photos. Can you save me?
Tim’s Quick Answer: If you have removed photos from Lightroom Classic without deleting the source images, you can easily recover the images (and possibly the metadata updates) by using the “Synchronize Folder” command.
More Detail: When you use the “Remove Photo” command in Lightroom Classic, you are given the choice of simply removing the photo from the catalog (leaving the file on your hard drive) or deleting the source image from your hard drive. As long as you use the option to remove the image from the catalog rather than delete it from your hard drive, you can easily recover the image.
If you also had the option enabled to “Automatically write changes into XMP”, you would recover most of the metadata updates when you recovered the image that was removed accidentally. This option is found on the Metadata tab in the Catalog Settings dialog within Lightroom Classic. On Windows you can get to the dialog by choosing Edit > Catalog Settings from the menu. Macintosh users will find Catalog Settings under Lightroom Classic on the menu.
Keep in mind that even with the option enabled to automatically write metadata updates to your photos, that doesn’t include everything. For example, pick and reject flags, collections, virtual copies, and history are not included. But all of the standard metadata fields as well as actual adjustment settings from the Develop module are included.
With all of that in mind, you can recover the photos that were accidentally removed from the Lightroom Classic catalog by right-clicking on the affected folder on the Folders list on the left panel in the Library module and choosing “Synchronize Folder” from the popup menu that appears. In the dialog that appears you’ll see a count of the number of photos in the selected folder that are not currently in the Lightroom Classic catalog, and you can click the Synchronize button to bring those images back into your catalog.