Go ahead and start Lightroom, then go to File/Open Recent. You should see your "main" catalog listed there. Choose it and it will open in Lightroom. I don't understand why you are opening your backup catalog. You might check your preferences. I have mine set to open the last catalog opened.
Thank you for your post and suggestions!
I can open the "Recent" catalog; it is in "Backups". My "Main Catalog" (.lrcat) is located where it should be, in My Pictures/Lightroom/Main Catalog. However, if I open that, it is currently not the most recent Catalog worked on/backed up. Obviously, when I open the most recent backup, and work on photos, and then do a new backup, the "Main Catalog" is not being updated. It seems to me that I should be able to replace the "Main Catalog" in the Lightroom folder with a copy of the most recent one worked on, and then keep going from there, if LR will just keep it updated. Do you know how to make this happen? The documentation seems to say that it is automatically updated. I would rather only open a Backup catalog if the Main one is corrupted somehow--but I am locked into a loop that requires opening the most recent backup copy each time I use LR now.
Any help or insight you can lend me would be appreciated!
If I may jump in here.
First to say that the main catalog is not automatically updated when a backup catalog is opened. They are separate entities. This is normal behavior.
The string of numbers is the date and time of the backup.
You can replace the main catalog with the latest backup by simply moving the .lrcat file and the .lrdata files into your My Pictures/Lightroom/ folder. They should be the same name. Replace.
Do this while Lightroom is closed.
To break the "loop" you are in you may want to change a preference. Under the General tab you will see the section for Default Catalog. Change that to "Prompt me when starting Lightroom" This way you will see a dialog where you can verify the location of the catalog you are about to open.
To David Rogers: David, thank you sooooo much for helping me resolved my LR catalog issues! I had such a tangled mess; seemingly always working my backups and not in the Main Catalog! I followed your instructions and was able to get files/folders in the correct place! I have also gone into Preferences in the section for Default Catalog and changed it to "Prompt me when starting Lightroom". I am no longer locked into opening "backup folder" each time I open LR! Thank You!