View Full Version : my photos are OFFLINE or MISSING !!!!!

8 Aug 2008, 11:35 am
I Woke Up With A Very Bad New

I Turn My Computer On
Connect My External Hard Drive And What......
All My Collections Appear With "?"

"offline Or Missing"

I Have All My Collections In An External Drive As I Don´t Have
A Second One To Backup , Only One.

They´ve Gone !!!!

I Can´t Believe It!!!

Did Someone Else Happen This? Thanks

8 Aug 2008, 11:37 am
Is the drive always connected? What OS and LR Version?


Brad Snyder
8 Aug 2008, 11:48 am
Adrian, Welcome to LR Forums, sorry you're having a problem.

1) Can you access the drive and images thru your OS Finder/ Explorer
2) As Don asks, OS? LR Version? External drive type? etc.

8 Aug 2008, 12:14 pm
mac version is OS X 1'.5.2 -2''8-
lightroom version 2

when drive is connected and ligthroom working , I can´t see images trough finder although watching drive´s info I know the images are there because of the size used, and ,in fact, I can see the images in a different computer

hard drive ; Iomega 25' gb.

thanks alot.

Victoria Bampton
8 Aug 2008, 5:23 pm
Sorry to hear about your problem Adrian. Welcome to the forum!

Take LR out of the situation for a moment - if you can't see the images in Finder, it's an OS level problem.

So which computer CAN you see the image on? Could it be a file permissions problem?

Before you do anything else, do go out and buy another drive or at least write to DVD. Storage is cheap these days, and I'm sure you'd be devastated if you lost all of your photos. Drives do die, so it's not worth taking the chance.

That said, if your other computer can see them ok, it does sound like they're still ok for now.

9 Aug 2008, 1:48 am
thanks a lot for your help , you´re actually very nice !!

I wanto to say sorry for my terrible english

I´m reading the forum more acurately in order to find another person who may had happened my situation, I don´t know WHY it happened to me .
I´m not worryed about missing my photos because I know they´re still there but it took me toons of hours to make my catalog .
about 6''' photos correctly ordered as they´ve been shoot.
by year, month , day etc and I can´t explain why they suddenly apear with an "?" and the text "offline or missing" I think I haven´t done anything wrong and my external drive is dedicated to photos ,only photos, I want to know if it happened to another person . I´ll go on searching, thanks for your help I really apreciatte it.


Victoria Bampton
9 Aug 2008, 9:12 am
Don't worry Adrian, we can sort your catalog later. As long as you don't start changing the directory structure outside of Lightroom, we'll be able to link them up again.

Let's just find your photos on that hard drive first! The most important thing right now is to figure out why that computer can't even see that hard drive in Finder.

11 Aug 2008, 6:50 pm
I'm having the same problem. I was exporting some photos to my email folder, then selected some to make a new catalog and all of a sudden my pics have the question mark. how do I look for them in the finder? I think they are there because the LR catalogue is taking up 11.8 mb (9'' pix). I have them backed up on my ipod but if I restore them from there I'll lose my changes. I downloaded the free demo and then bought LR 2 but just entered the serial #-did not re install using the disc.

Brad Snyder
11 Aug 2008, 7:16 pm
Debby, Welcome to LR Forums.

Can you tell us more about exactly what you did. You say Finder, so I guess you're on a Mac.

The catalog, and the image files, are two separate things, in two separate places. It's quite possible that you've moved the actual image files, and the link into LR is broken.
If we can find the files, it's easy enough to fix.

11 Aug 2008, 8:41 pm
brad, yes, I'm on an Imac using 1'.4. First, I exported some files to a folder for email. after I exported them, I renamed them (outside of LR) about 15 files. Then I created a new collection and moved some files into the collection. then I selected those files and tried to export them to the email folder. and I can't remember what the message was but it said it couldn't be done. then i noticed I couldn't export anything because all the files (9'') had question marks. how do I go about finding the files? debby

Brad Snyder
11 Aug 2008, 8:56 pm
Try clicking on the question mark, it should bring up a file browser to navigate to the file. If you haven't moved them or renamed them externally to LR, finding one should trigger a mechanism which identifies them all. If that doesn't do it, let us know.

11 Aug 2008, 9:58 pm
brad. in the LR data file there's 849.2 MG. are those the images?

11 Aug 2008, 10:06 pm
when i ask it to locate the image, it just takes me to the hard drive. from there I can go lots of places but I don't know where to look

Brad Snyder
11 Aug 2008, 10:18 pm
Debby, that's probably the preview cache folder.

There're three pieces here.

1) The catalog file. "something".lrcat, where something is probably Lightroom 2 Catalog
2) The preview cache folder "something Previews".lrdata
3) The actual original image files, either NEF, CR2, or some other raw type, or JPG, or TIFF. You should have been asked where to import these from, or where to copy these to when you imported the images.

It's the number 3) files we need to find.

12 Aug 2008, 6:28 am
I don't think they are here. I searched for cr2 as all the images are raw and only turned up one in my downloads folder. it was emailed to me. so now what? do I need to re=import them from my ipod? should I create a new catalogue? do you know if this is a bug or if I did something to cause it?

Brad Snyder
12 Aug 2008, 11:26 am
You have raw files on your iPod?
How much time and effort do you have invested in editing and adjusting the 'lost' images? If it's not a lot, then yes, it's probably best to create a new catalog and reimport the original raw images. To do that, you can click 'New Catalog ...' on the file menu, which will create a new catalog, and automatically restart LR, or you can hold down cmd/ctrl, while starting LR and it will give you the option of creating a new catalog.

If you have spent a lot of time with the original 'lost' files, there's a chance we can get them back for you, if you have the originals stashed somewhere (iPod?). I'm getting the feeling that you're not a computer power user? Not a problem, but it may take some hand-holding, so let us know.

12 Aug 2008, 2:33 pm
I solved the problem. I had failed to select a location on my hard drive when I imported my photos-that's why I couldn't find them. I re-imported from my ipod and saved them to the hard drive and everything is fine now. thanks for your help.

Brad Snyder
12 Aug 2008, 8:56 pm

16 Sep 2008, 10:20 pm
I am using Win XP Pro and I can see the images on the hard drive in Explorer. I can even see them in Lightroom2. But it will not let me edit them, saying they are off line. They are actually on my D Drive which is an internal drive and of course always on. When I try to load them again in LR it says they are already in the catalog. I also have them in a Collection and still I can see them but not edit them and the develop sliders are all grayed out.

I am ready to pull my hair out! Thanks for your help,

Brad Snyder
16 Sep 2008, 10:39 pm
What version of LR? What kinds of files, raw, jpg, etc?

Do the images have question mark icons on them in Grid view? Are the folders displayed in red, or have question mark icons on them?

17 Sep 2008, 12:14 am
Lightroom 2, raw files, no red on the grid view but there is a question mark in the corner of the images in the grid view.


17 Sep 2008, 6:27 am
Lightroom 2, raw files, no red on the grid view but there is a question mark in the corner of the images in the grid view.


Hi Marcia, welcome aboard (sorry it's belated) take a moment to fill in your signature so we don't have to ask questions to ascertain your system etc. Thanks.
Now Brad was asking if the folders are in red, form your reply I am not clear about that.
If they are not you can right click a folder and synchronise it, give that a go and let us know please.

Victoria Bampton
17 Sep 2008, 9:27 am
Lightroom missing folders are grey, not red in LR2, so we won't worry too much about that.

Marcia, if I haven't already welcomed you, let me add my welcome.

If you click on one of the question marks, it'll ask you where to find the photos now. It most often happens when people have been 'tidying up'. ;)

Here's a bit more blurb: http://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroomqueen/2'samples/missingphotos2'.pdf

17 Sep 2008, 10:54 am
Thanks so much for the welcome. I did add to my signature, hope I did it correctly.

Thank you both for the helpful information. I was able to find the files which were as you thought, misfiled.

I do have one more question, and that is why in my Folders List do I have 2 folders with different photos in them called Local Folder D? I have one of all the other folders.

Thanks again,

Victoria Bampton
17 Sep 2008, 10:58 am
Hi Marcia

Signature looks perfect, thank you!

Are you able to do a screenshot of the folders panel? I think you're referring to the volume browser showing the same drive twice, is that right? If so, it sounds like a known 2.' bug which should hopefully be fixed soon. Are the photos in the second copy of the folder all -Edit files?

17 Sep 2008, 11:24 am
Thanks again Victoria. I think it must be the known bug as the second folder only has 4 catalogs in it and they are copies of those in the first folder.

I won't worry about it since it is a known bug.

I must order your video.

Victoria Bampton
17 Sep 2008, 12:29 pm
Yeah, that sounds about right Marcia.

PS. I haven't done a video, but I have done a book, which is available in PDF or now paperback too.

5 Oct 2008, 4:50 pm
I am having the same problem as Adrian -- when I open LR all my collections have most of the photos missing or offline (45'' photos missing out of 9'''!) All my photos live on an external drive and my internal drive and I know they are there as I can pull them up by looking in various folders. But they are scattered everywhere!!! It took me months to catalog them...

I have a PC with Windows XP and I run LR 1.4.1.

How do I get my LR folders and collections to re-link with my external and internal drive to show these offline/missing photos? Please help. Your help would be immensely appreciated.

6 Oct 2008, 5:28 pm
Please read my post above first. I posted above b/c some of the solutions recommended in this thread may not apply to PCs, and I have a PC. For example, when I click on the question mark of the missing file, it tells me the last location file was found (& it is an accurate location where my missing file currently lives), but it does not give me the option to locate adjacent photos. Since I am missing about 45'' files, I can't re-link them using this technique manually...Please help -- how do I re-link batches of missing photos on a PC? Thanks.

Brad Snyder
6 Oct 2008, 6:06 pm
Ayame, Welcome to LR Forums.

First, what do you mean "But they are scattered everywhere!!! "? Are the files located where you think they should be, or did they get moved somehow?

Clicking on the ? mark should work for PCs also.

14 Oct 2008, 7:28 pm
Thanks for yr reply. When I click on the '?" it tells me the last location of the file, but then I have to manually go to that folder and click on that photo (the PC doesn't search for it automatically). An even bigger problem is that the PC doesn't give me the option to locate adjacent photos, and since I am missing over 4''' photos, clicking on each ? then manually fonfing EACH photo is a nightmare. Please help. Thanks

5 Feb 2009, 3:52 am
I have the same problem.
iam using lr2.2 backed up all pics to external hard drive so i could clean out my c drive.
lr will retrive my pics from my external drive but says files missing or offline.
I have tried to locate the pics by right clicking on my folders but just the same happens again. PLEASE HELP ME.

5 Feb 2009, 6:34 am
I have the same problem.
iam using lr2.2 backed up all pics to external hard drive so i could clean out my c drive.
lr will retrive my pics from my external drive but says files missing or offline.
I have tried to locate the pics by right clicking on my folders but just the same happens again. PLEASE HELP ME.

Did you copy over the folder hierarchy structure, same as originally on your c drive? If so, just go to the highest folder in that hierarchy in the lightroom folders display, right click on that highest folder to bring up the find menu, and click on find folder. Once you then point lightroom to the current location of that folder all your photos should be found on the external drive.

If you then want to move them again, perform the move from within lightroom, using the folders panel in the library module.

5 Feb 2009, 6:52 am
I have the same problem. files missing or offline.
am using lr2.2 on a pc. I have tried right clicking and pointing lr to the right location and re loading the pics. suprise suprise lr still says all my pics are offline or missing, soooo frustrating and anymore help i can get will earn you a very large drink.


5 Feb 2009, 7:04 am
You might try reading through this thread


Denis Pagé
5 Feb 2009, 9:19 am
...backed up all pics to external hard drive so i could clean out my c drive.
If you cleaned up your C: drive after that, this is my understanding that it was not a backup but rather like a move (copy/delete).

If this is so, can you put them back (Lightroom closed) for a moment and check that they are no more missing in Lightroom (no more ? marks)?

If they are not missing anymore drag the top level folder(s) within Lightroom to the external and everything should follow properly.

5 Feb 2009, 10:32 am
when i ran lr it asked me to back up at start up. I did but changed the location to my hard drive. After checking it was there I then cleaned my c drive.
its so wierd as lr will download the pics (from my hd)so they are visible but says offline or missing.
I have right clicked on the question marks and told lr where to look but the same just happens. anyone fancy coming to England to sort this one out for me:lol:
cheers guys and any additional help will be great

5 Feb 2009, 10:34 am
oh i will try dragging the top level folder to my hard drive later at home, fingers crossed.
dont suppose downloading lr2.3 will help?

Denis Pagé
5 Feb 2009, 10:47 am
its so wierd as lr will download the pics (from my hd)so they are visible but says offline or missing.
THERE is the catch!

Lightroom is NOT showing you the photos! What you see are previews that it stores under CatalogName.lrdata near CatalogName.lrcat. While this allows you to browse and keyword or rate, if you want to develop to make alterations, you need an access to the originals that it can't find at the moment.

Denis Pagé
5 Feb 2009, 10:48 am
...anyone fancy coming to England to sort this one out for me:lol:
Would so much like to do so! ;)

5 Feb 2009, 11:14 am
Without reading the whole thread again, sounds like you backed up your catalog and previews and then proceeded to delete you image files.
Best you try and recover that drive pronto.

5 Feb 2009, 1:59 pm
ok so i downloaded 2.3. and i have tried to drag my top folder to my hard drive(is this what you meant?) it wont let me. i am going bananas now lol. when i try to re install the pics from my hard drive it says lightroom already has them, grrrr but it doesnt aarrrggghh, help help help

Denis Pagé
5 Feb 2009, 2:02 pm
ok so i downloaded 2.3. and i have tried to drag my top folder to my hard drive(is this what you meant?) it wont let me. i am going bananas now lol. when i try to re install the pics from my hard drive it says lightroom already has them, grrrr but it doesnt aarrrggghh, help help help
Lightroom is thinking they are still there. This is why it is suggested to move them back Lightroom CLOSED. You are aware that we shall not move files outside Lightroom but this is an exception here... (Just for you! ;))

EDIT: Try Geoff's next advice FIRST!...

5 Feb 2009, 2:04 pm
If you right click on an image file in LR you will have an option to see the file in finder/explorer?
Does this take you to the file on the HD?

5 Feb 2009, 2:13 pm
yes it does but it kind of displys lots of files with random numbers and nothing in them???? sorry am i doing your heads in now? sorry

Brad Snyder
5 Feb 2009, 2:33 pm
Scott, let's start over.

Realize in this instance Lr is dealing with 3 very different types of files.

1) Your image files in their folder arrangement. Raws, JPGs, TIFs, etc.
2) The Lr Catalog database file, which is of filetype *.lrcat.
3) The Lr Preview cache, which on Win is a folder of type *.lrdata.

Now, recognizing the difference between these types of files, can you describe exactly what you moved, where, and what you deleted.

Also realize that a Lr internal backup at startup time, only backs up #2.

5 Feb 2009, 4:19 pm
Great Brad - perhaps we/you could start a new thread or move the relevant posts to one!!!
I'll bow out of this and go and enjoy some sunshine. only 3' today!!:lol:

Victoria Bampton
5 Feb 2009, 4:50 pm
Scott, do you know how to take screenshots? I'd love to see a screenshot of your Library module with the folder panel open, and a screenshot of an Explorer window showing where the files are now. Pictures make it so much easier to explain!

6 Feb 2009, 3:00 am
ok here is a shot from my lightroom library

6 Feb 2009, 3:02 am
here is one of my external drive and the lightroom backup icon(if thats what its called) fingers crossed now

Victoria Bampton
6 Feb 2009, 5:36 am
Perfect Scott!

Now, I can see that the missing folders in Lightroom are 2''7/2''8 but I can't see those on your Explorer window... where have you hidden them?

6 Feb 2009, 6:08 am
I suspect they may have been deleted but I sincerely hope not!!:cry:

6 Feb 2009, 6:17 am
when lr asked me to back up at start up i did, i thought it would back up all pictures to my hard drive? the one that says lr catalog lrct file am i wrong?

Victoria Bampton
6 Feb 2009, 6:19 am
Er, sorry Scott, but no, Lightroom's backup backs up the catalog. Photos are not included - did the backup size not give it away?

6 Feb 2009, 6:22 am
Scott be very clear about this: Lightroom has no image files, they are all on your HD in their folders and LR has only links to them. What you see in LR is previews of information from the image files plus the changes you have made in LR.
A back up is of the LR catalog only.