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This is not a registry problem.
The first step is figuring out where the photos are on your hard disk(s). You need to find the missing photos on your hard disk(s) somewhere, using your operating system. Once you know where they are, you should be able to reconnect them in PSE, or move them back (using your operating system) to where PSE thinks they should be.
Thanks for the the advice. Now I know how to attack this problem. I'll go back through all the trouble shooting info and try to figure out how to do that. Any tips? Is this a common problem? I know most of the time these things are caused by misuse of the program, but the fact that these files went missing without me messing with them in any way makes me wonder if there is something wrong with the software. I'd hate to spend hours or days trying fix this only to find that it's unfixable. Do you think I would be better off just abandoning this elements 7 program for the latest version of elements? Thanks again, this is really helping.
Switching version of elements does not fix the problem.
My only guess as to what happened is that a folder(s) got move accidentally.
I'll go back through all the trouble shooting info and try to figure out how to do that.
I really don't understand this reference to trouble shooting, as I said to find the photo on your hard disk(s) using your operating system. The first and only task you should have now is to find the missing photos using your operating system.
If you have one of the missing photo names, you can search for it using your operating system's search feature. Once you locate it, you need to know where PSE thinks it should be (right-click on the Photo, select Properties). Then move the photo (or probably the whole folder) using your operating system to where PSE thinks it should be.
Sorry about the confusing reference to trouble shooting. I am not up on all the proper labels for different procedures and concepts in computing. What I meant was I have no idea how to find lost files or how to move them and would have to go to sites explaining how to do that. I guess I should have used the word "tutorials". For me, such sites help in fixing problems, what I call trouble shooting.
If it's not possible for Elements to do this spontaneously, I must be the culprit. I would sure like to know how I did this without even having that catalog open so I don't do it again because I don't even know to move files intentionally much less accidentally.
Knowing that it's not a registry problem or that switching versions of Elements won't help is good to know. I will assume there is nothing wrong with the software and will concentrate on learning how to find and move the missing files. I'll undoubtably run into another problem and will be back soon. Thanks for the help.
I would sure like to know how I did this without even having that catalog open so I don't do it again because I don't even know to move files intentionally much less accidentally.
You didn't do this with the catalog open. You, or someone else using your computer, or those space aliens that beamed into your house a few days ago, or your cat or dog, moved or renamed or deleted the photos, probably accidentally, using Windows xp.
What I meant was I have no idea how to find lost files or how to move them and would have to go to sites explaining how to do that.
If you don't know how to do that, then here's the basic idea. In PSE, find the name of one of the missing files. Lets say it is DSC_0432.jpg
Then, in Windows XP, double-click on My Computer and enter DSC_0432.jpg into the search bar, press ENTER, and it will search for it.
This will work if the photos were accidentally moved. If the photos were accidentally renamed or deleted, then this will not work.
Nevertheless, give it a try and report back. If the photo is found, make a note of the exact folder that it resides in right now and let us know.