Is there a question mark in your Lightroom catalog with a big warning saying, “The file named “X” is offline or missing.”? Don’t panic. Most of the time this is easy to fix.
A couple things could be going on.
Let’s start with the easy one. If you keep your images on an external drive and you unplug the drive, basically Lightroom is telling you that they can’t find the images… at the moment… If you plug in the drive, the question mark will magically go away. While the file is offline, you can still make catalog types of changes like keywords, stars, colors and flags. If you go to the Develop module, the controls will be grayed out.
Now the slightly harder fixes….
Why did this happen?
Remember Lightroom is a catalog. What this means is that Lightroom doesn’t track any changes you make to your files or folders outside of Lightroom. If you move a file or rename a drive, Lightroom will still be looking for the original file or folder name.
To fix this, you can do two things:
To let Lightroom know about the changes you can use the “Find Missing Photos” feature.
To find a missing photo, double click on the question mark. Locate the moved or renamed photos on your hard drive. There is a check box that says “Find nearby missing photos.” This will relink other photos in nearby locations that may have also been moved or renamed.
If you see a question make near the folder name. Right click on the folder. Select “Finder Missing Folder”. Navigate to where the missing photo or folder is now located. Select choose. Now the question mark should disappear and your photo will no longer appear offline or missing.
This is also handy if your original hard drive crashed and you are trying to restore from a backup.
Did your drive crash? Ouch… If you used an online photo backup service like Mosaic you could restore and relink the photos using the above method.
This process is identical in Lightroom 3 or Lightroom 4.
Hope that helps you relink your missing photos in Lightroom.