Grayed-out and question-mark inflicted folders in Lightroom?
This solution works when your photographs’ Lightroom directory structure remains the same but parent directories have moved (due to, for example, installing a new OS).
Quick solution :
If no parent folder exists:
- In the Library module, under the Folders panel (ctrl+shift+2) right-click one folder and select “Add parent folder”
- Make sure that the old parent folder and the new parent folder share the same name, if not, change new parent folder to match old parent folder name (not in Lightroom, but in Windows Explorer).
Once parent folder exists:
- Selecting the parent folder, right click and select “Update folder location.”
- Point to parent folder.
- Lightroom should now find all you photos.
I recently downgraded from Windows Vista to XP. In the process of doing this I had to format my hard drive and reinstall everything. While it’s nice to have “renovated the house”, there are always headaches to deal with with any OS re-install. My biggest was that the directory structure for XP and Vista are different so that, even after I saved my Lightroom catalogue to a second external hard drive (see my post on managing Lightroom catalogues for more information on that) and added it back to my fresh Lightroom install, Lightroom thought that all of my pictures were missing in action.
I was underwhelmed with Adobe’s suggestion, in part because my catalogue structure was without a parent folder and Adobe’s solution would have me selecting each folder and telling the program where it went. With over 100 folders, this menial task seemed like too much repetitive work. I was looking for a batch solution.
After farting around, I found a surprisingly easy solution: when you right click any folder (that is, any folder without a parent folder), you get an option to “add parent folder”. Simply click this and the parent folder should appear. For me, this made “Pictures” appear as the parent folder. This is the default file folder in Vista but in XP, it is “My Pictures”. I changed the file folder name in XP to “Pictures” so that they matched. With this done, there was enough continuity with old and new directory structure to tell Lightroom where to find the photos.
Right-clicking the parent Pictures directory in Lightroom, I selected the “Update folder location” option and, using the folder tree, pointed to the parent directory. Lightroom is smart enough that once it has found a parent directory to look for all the children folders. So, once you’ve pointed it in the right direction, the process becomes automated.
Thankfully, Lightroom found all my photographs.
(Truth be told, my process was a was a wee bit longer. Prior to figuring this out, I had pointed Lightroom to a few children folders. This, problematically created two parent folders called “Pictures”. When I figured out what I was doing and tried to “update folder location” for the missing Pictures folder (that held the majority of my folders), I got a message, to the effect that this folder was already added to my catalogue. Shit! The solution? In windows explorer, I created a dummy parent folder (which I called “Dummy”) and then moved the Pictures folder into it. Now, in Lightroom, all my photos went missing again. Selecting the Pictures parent directory with the most children folders, I updated to the new folder location. Now I had to manually change the folder location for the remaining folders, but this was a much shorter process. With all the folders back together, I closed Lightroom and moved the “Pictures” folder out of the dummy folder back to its original location. Reopening Lightroom caused the pictures to go missing again, but it was a matter of following the five steps above to get everything back in order.)