7 Replies Latest reply on Feb 27, 2018 9:12 PM by Laura Shoe

    Photo library mess!


      OK, I know this is a rookie mistake but I decided to try to untangle my mess of a photo library (years of phone pics, camera pics, movies etc., imported from outgoing computers and other said devices).  So rather then do like I should have and moved things around in Lightroom, I did it on my operating system (mac).  Now a bunch of the files and images are greyed out with ? which I now know means Lightroom cannot find the files.  I know, I shoulda moved the stuff in Lightroom.  But here I am in a much more tangled mess with thousands of images reorganized but not locatable by Lightroom.  I tried an experiment with thoughts that I could delete a file from lightroom and start fresh. So I deleted a newer file (that still exists on my phone) so that I could add it freshly into lightroom from my operating system but now when I try to import it, the images are greyed and is says suspected duplicate and will not let me import.  I'm pulling my hair out over this.  I have all of my images pretty organized in my operating system and would love to just erase Lightroom memory and import everything new.  But not sure if that is an option or I have to go through each file and find them (so manyyyy).... 

        • 2. Re: Photo library mess!
          JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          If the images are still in the same folders but just moved to a different location, you can go to the library module and right click on those folders and choose the option to find the missing folders. Then in the dialog that appears you can point Lightroom to where the images are now located.


          If you really want to just start over you can go to the Lightroom menu and create new catalog. I catalog will be empty and you can start importing the images again. But that means that all the work you have done will be gone and you will have to start all of your editing over again. Do you really want to do that?

          • 3. Re: Photo library mess!
            kevinh74702263 Level 1

            Thanks, I actually already looked at that article.  Unfortunately I have moved so many single images to different files and spent a ton of time reorganizing and unscrambling (or so I thought) that to do this for each file would be a massive time drain.  Is there any way I can wipe Lightroom and just import my (newly organized) photo library freshly into Lightroom?  Maybe delete and reinstall it??  Am I playing with fire?

            • 4. Re: Photo library mess!
              bob frost Level 3

              Simple - just create a new catalog and import everything into the new catalog. You will lose all edits of course unless you have saved them out to xmp.


              Bob Frost

              • 5. Re: Photo library mess!
                kevinh74702263 Level 1

                Thanks Jim.  Actually since most of my edits were done in Bridge (I know, old school, I am pretty new to Lightroom) and then in Photoshop and saved, I think I will be OK with that.  Does that mean the first catalog will still exist and take up a bunch of space with duplicates (that are in the second catalog) or is it minimal because most of the information is kept in the original file on the operating system (if that makes sense)?  Would I be better off to delete that first catalog (if it is an option)?  BTW I am going to start doing more edits in Lightroom as I learn more about it.

                • 6. Re: Photo library mess!
                  JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  No need to reinstall. If you really want to start over just create a new catalog. You can do that from the Lightroom menu. But as I indicated previously, all of the work you have done will be lost and you will have to do all of that editing over again. Remember, your images are not in Lightroom. They are in folders on your computer. The catalog is the key. Create a new catalog and you are starting fresh.


                  The first catalog will still exist. But if you don't need it anymore you can use Finder and send it to the trash.

                  • 7. Re: Photo library mess!
                    Laura Shoe Adobe Community Professional

                    For anyone who wants to start over and have Lightroom organize their files as they do it, here's a comprehensive article on how to do it: Help, My Photos Are Completely Unorganized and Lightroom is a Mess. How Can I Just Start Over?