I'm looking for options and would appreciate any ideas.

I'm a photographer w/a MacBook Pro & an OWC upgraded SSD internal drive that crashed. Lightroom is my main application and I use an OWC ThunderBay RAID drive as my main data hard drive (imports of images go directly here).

Upon the abrupt crash of my Internal SSD HD, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to backup the HD and restore* (some manual restoration was necessary), and then reformatted the internal drive. Upon reinstalling OS Mojave and Lightroom, I discovered to my horror that my catalog in Lightroom can't locate 80,000 of my images! (these are images that I know exist on the drive, as I was just using many of them).

I'm thinking that this has something to do with my messy restoration (created a new user by accident) that is hiding folders and files via security permissions. Even though I've used Terminal to broadly change the drive's permissions etc... gone through folder by folder... there are still these thousands of important missing and I believe "hidden" files.

Looking for suggestions... I am really in a dilly of a pickle. (-Flandersism

1 Answer 1


Lightroom doesn't store images in the Lightroom catalog, it only stores the editing metadata. If Lightroom can not locate the images, they may be missing (!) or simply not where Lightroom is expecting them. The first step is to manually locate your images to confirm they are still in place on your harddrive (or wherever you had them). If the images are NOT where you expect them, and you can not find them manually, you may have lost or destroyed the images. Lightroom can not help recover the images, as it does not store the images in the catalog.

But if you find the images, then perhaps the Lightroom catalog has lost track of them, or they are in a renamed location (you changed the user name, which changes the top level directory in MacOS). The first step is to look at the menu tree on the left in the Library module. If any images or folders are listed as "missing' (with an exclamation mark: "!"), then inspect them to see what folder/drive they are attempting to connect to. Make sure the location in Lightroom matches the location on your drive.

This article is extremely good instruction on how to reattach images to the Lightroom catalog, and I will simply point you to it rather than reproduce all intricate instructions here. However, this article guides you on reconnecting images to the Lightroom catalog.

  • Yes, I understand your points... all well taken. I believe the images are not where Lightroom is expecting them (with "?" folders and images with "!" point to the RAID drive)... will check out the article you mentioned... thanks for the insight.
    – el_beam
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 15:37
  • that was a very helpful article, in that it confirmed my belief that this is a user / drive permission issue rather than deleted or destroyed files. What would you suggest re: this problem? Maybe I should (GULP) try restoring the drive again making sure no new users are setup? What do you think?
    – el_beam
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 15:48

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