Yesterday in Part A I discussed how I get rid of unwanted images in my Lightroom catalog by marking them as rejects. Before I move on to the next topic, I wanted to thank some of my readers that suggested that the rejected files can be removed by simply marking the files as rejected and then hitting the CTRL-Backspace keys on a PC or CMD-Del on a Mac. This will skip the part where I filtered by Rejected to display all of the rejected images and then delete them. Of course I am too paranoid to delete my files without giving them one more look, which is why I like to show them all one last time before deleting them.
Okay, once I got rid of all those lam-o shots that were hogging up space, it was time to clean up my catalog. So here’s the issue. When I import images, I typically load them in two places; one copy to my computer hard drive, and another copy to my back-up drive on my network. Lightroom then associates the file location as the computer hard drive and ignores the ones on the back-up drive.
My problem is that periodically I will go through my images on the computer and delete them from my hard drive to free up space. I don’t want to eliminate them from my Lightroom catalog because I might want to use them later so I just drag the image files directly to the trash. I can do this with confidence because I know that they are on my permanent back-up drive (I use a RAID server to handle all of my back-ups).
Later on, as I go through my Lightroom catalog I come across those images but I can’t use them because they don’t exist in the location where Lightroom thinks they should be. Lightroom still displays the thumbnails but now a small question mark shows up in the top right corner. That question mark means that, although Lightroom is still maintaining the data from any changes I might have made for that file, it can no longer do any processing or output. (Remember, Lightroom doesn’t make any changes to your image file, it just stores those desired changes in a database so you see what the processing would look like when you output the image.)
There will also be a question mark next to the folder name in the Folders Panel.
To re-associate my image with all of the Lightroom data I simply click on the question mark in the corner of the thumbnail and Lightroom pops up a dialog box asking me if I want to locate my image.
The great thing about backing up during the import process is that all of the images on the back-up drive will have the same file name and use the same file folder structure as the images that were imported to the computer. This makes finding them on the back-up a whole lot easier. I simply press the Locate button in the dialog box and the navigate to the proper folder and file on my back-up drive. When I find the correct file, I click on it and then click on the Select button.
But wait, there’s more… If I want to locate all of the images that were imported during the same session I just click the little check box at the bottom of the dialog box labeled “Find nearby missing photos”. Now, when I press the select button, Lightroom will not only re-associate the one image that I was looking for but will do the same for all of the images from that folder.
That’s really all there is to it. Now I can go back to those images in Lightroom and make changes to them in the Develop module, print them, or export them to Photoshop or as a file for emailing. Best of all, I now have more room on my computer hard drive for my next import session.