Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a database. Every photo that you add into your Lightroom Catalog creates a new reference point. In my workshops and tutoring sessions, I frequently work with photographer’s who have made their lives miserable by moving images around their computers without thinking about how these changes will effect the reference points within their Lightroom index. Moving a file, or folder full of photographs, is one of the easiest ways to upset the program.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom gets upset when the path that it has recorded to a specific photograph is suddenly broken. Moving files, and folders, that have been added into your Catalog using your computer’s operating system breaks the path and thus upsets the index! Lightroom displays question marks over files, and folders, that have gone missing. Your ability to use these files is limited until the path has been re-established.
If you have broken the path to one of your folders then the Find Missing Folders command can be quite useful. You can use this command to teach Lightroom the new path to your images. This command is also quite useful when we want to move a folder full of images from one place to another.
In this video tutorial, I move folders from my internal hard drive to an external hard drive and then use the Find Missing Folders command to reconnect the paths. This method of moving folders from drive to drive is easy especially if you are moving a top-level folder, ie. one that contains other folders full of images. The secret to this technique is to use the Add Parent Folder within the Lightroom Library Module’s Folder Panel before moving anything! You can find this, and the Locate Missing Folders command, with a right-click.
I should also warn you that I am confident moving files around my computer because I have Professional-Grade Backup Plans in place to protect all of my images. Beware of making major changes, like moving files from drive to drive, if you don’t have faith in your backup system.
For another way to move folders from drive to drive without upsetting Adobe Photoshop Lightroom check out this tutorial on the secrets of the Folder Panel. We also have a tutorial on how to move files that are not yet referenced by your Lightroom Catalog from place to place using the Import and Move command.