Photos Hidden But Not Missing


Today’s Question: My external hard drive Photos folder contains 16,633 photos in a couple of dozen folders. However, when I browse that folder the notation at the top-left of the filmstrip says “16,596 of 16,633”, which indicates 37 photos missing. From the menu I selected Library > Find All Missing Photos, but the dialog box came back with “No Missing Files”. What am I doing wrong, and what could be the problem?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The issue here is that some photos are hidden from view within Lightroom Classic, but the source photos are not actually missing.

More Detail: When photos are “missing” in Lightroom Classic that means that the source photo can’t be found where it is expected. For example, if you renamed a folder outside of Lightroom Classic then the folder (and all the photos within the folder) would appear missing because the folder has a different name than is expected within the catalog.

If you use the Library > Find All Missing Photos command and no photos appear missing, I’d say that is a cause for celebration. After all, many photographers have ended up with photos that are missing (or disconnected) in the context of their Lightroom Classic catalog.

Of course, I understand that you still want to uncover the cause for the photos that appear to be missing even though they aren’t truly missing in the context of the catalog.

In this case the most likely cause for the photos being excluded from the count is that the photos are part of a stack of photos that has been collapsed. When photos are in a collapsed stack, the photo count will only include the top photo in the stack, not the photos that are hidden from view by virtue of being in a collapsed stack. If you expand the stack the photo count will increase accordingly.

So, for example, you could navigate to one of the folders that shows a shortage of photos, and then go to the menu and choose Photo > Stacking > Expand All Stacks. This will expand all stacks within the current folder location, updating the count for how many photos are being displayed out of the total that are actually in the current folder.

Another possibility is that there is a filter applied that is causing only some of the photos in the folder to be displayed. You may have a filter set based on star ratings, color labels, or other metadata. To ensure there aren’t any filters applied go to the Library Filter bar at the top of the grid view display in the Library module and choose “None” so that no filter is applied.

The point is that in this case while you aren’t seeing all the photos that are actually contained in the current storage location, that doesn’t mean the photos are actually missing. Rather, it means that not all photos that are in the current folder location are being shown on the filmstrip or within the grid view display.