It's hard for me to read your words and see your screen captures and put them together. It seems like you haven't shown us enough of the hierarchy of folders both inside and outside of Lightroom to really understand what the situation is.
When I try and relink the missing photos I get the message shown telling me the file is associated with another photo in the catalogue.
So the photo is already in your catalogue, probably twice — there's the one you are trying to relink, and the other one that the error message is telling you about. You need to find the other version of the photo that the error message is telling you about.
To do this, you must use Lightroom to search for the photos by file name. Before you do the search, you must do ALL of the following three things (not one or two of the following three things, but ALL three of them)
- Go to the Catalog Panel on the left and click on All Photographs
- Expand All Stacks
- Turn off any filter that might be in use, using Ctrl/Cmd-L once or twice.
Then you should find two versions of a given photo when you search by file name. One of those you want to keep, the one with your edits and user-supplied keywords, and one you don't need. Get rid of the one you don't need, then re-connect it to the photos on your hard disk.
Yes, this is a mess, there may not be a simple way to move forward.
If I remove all the folders from Lightroom, change the folder structure on the computer and reimport then I will presumably loose any edited virtual copies and keywording?
Re-importing will most likely have the negative effects you stated.
Thanks very much for your prompt reply. I have followed your suggestion. I have lots of examples of the following situation:
There are three image files of the same photo
1 a blank missing image which has keywords associated to it and is also in a collection. According to the metadata panel
it resides in the Lightroom folder
2 a second blank missing image with no keywords which resides in a particular folder on the hard drive
3 a third complete image file with no keywords which also resides in an identical folder on the hard drive as per no. 2 above
So, I delete No. 2 and No. 3 and relink No. 1 in the lightroom folder to the image on the hard drive I presume.
Sorry for the further questions but I need to be absolutely sure.
Sounds like you want to delete No. 2 and No. 3 so you retain the keywords. Then re-link the photo in Lightroom to the photo on the hard disk.