Do you want to restore photos from Adobe Lightroom desktop, mobile, or web version? We, and millions of photography fans and professional photographers know the importance of restoring files from this Adobe photo editing and organizing software. It’s agitating, time-consuming, and even financially damaging to have your work disappear or revert to a much older state. Sadly, there are many ways for that to happen, from accidental deletion to software or data corruption and hardware failure. That’s where data recovery, cloud storage, or Trash feature swoop to save the day. Let’s show you how to recover Lightroom photos.
Warning. Lightroom does not sync your photos to the cloud. Instead, users can only configure the frequency of the automatic backup of Lightroom catalogs (.lrcat files) exclusive to Lightroom Classic.
1. Use the Deleted folder to recover deleted Lightroom photos
Have you erased your photos in the desktop version of Lightroom 2.4 and later, or Lightroom Mobile 4.4 and newer for Android or iOS? Did you edit any photos via Lightroom on the web before their removal? If the answer to any or all questions is yes, you should know that photos erased from any application are synced to the web and safely stored for up to 60 days. Therefore, regardless of where you deleted them, you can recover deleted Lightroom photos using the Deleted folder like this:
- Open the web version of Lightroom, or a desktop or mobile version of the software.
- Click the My Photos icon on the web or the books icon on desktop or mobile.
- You will now see a list of existing photos, starting from those you edited most recently. Scroll down to the Deleted album and click or tap it.
- Lightroom will now show you erased photos from all applications based on the time of removal. They’ll be in ascending order, making it easier to scroll past irrelevant ones.
- Click or tap the photo and choose the Restore (reverse arrow) icon. You may also press Control + click (macOS) or right-click and pick the Restore Photo menu option.
- You can restore all photos at once by selecting the three-dot menu in the top left corner and then selecting Restore All.
- Find the restored photos in the “All Photos” folder. Note that the stack information is not retrieved, so you must restack such images.
What happens if I permanently remove photos from the Lightroom Deleted folder?
If you permanently remove the photos from the Deleted folder in Lightroom, they are gone forever. Contacting Adobe support won’t produce results since they are wiped from their cloud storage. Thus, make sure not to select the trash can (Delete option) icon or right-click (Windows) or Control + click (Mac) then select Permanently Delete Photo. Similarly, carefully open the three-dots icon, so you don’t choose Permanently Delete All.
2. How to recover Lightroom photos deleted from the disk
Lightroom desktop and mobile users get three options when they erase a photo or several photos: Delete from Disk, Remove from Lightroom, and Cancel. If you selected Remove from Lightroom, you can find them in the “Deleted” folder. But if you pick Delete from Disk, erased photos will be sent to “Recycle Bin” on Windows or “Trash Bin” on macOS. Therefore, your Lightroom photos are not yet deleted from your disk, and you can restore them like this:
- Windows — Open Recycle Bin, right-click on the photo, and select Restore. You should also be able to press Ctrl + Z to undo the removal.
- Mac — Go to Trash Can, copy the photo, and paste it wherever you want, ideally in the Lightroom folder.
3. Instructions to find missing Lightroom images on your drive
People often panic when Lightroom can’t find their photos and assume they are deleted. However, if they are unavailable using the two methods above, yet the software reports “The file couldn’t be found”, they may simply be missing from the original location. Take these steps to find Lightroom images:
- Use Windows Explorer or Finder on Mac, and input the name of the photo in the search bar. It may be misplaced outside the Lightroom folder.
- If you can’t find them, open the Lightroom folder like this:
- On Mac: Click Lightroom in the top corner → Choose Catalog Settings, then go to General. You’ll see the data path for Lightroom. Click Show to open the folder.
- For Windows: Click Edit in the upper corner, then Catalog Settings → General.
- Check if there are any hidden files in the folder, some may be your images hidden from the software.
- As a last resort, let Lightroom perform a search for the folder with your images this way:
- Open Lightroom and the project/catalog you were working on.
- Right-click (Windows) or Control + click (Mac) the problematic (?) folder on the right-hand side.
- Select the Find Missing Folder… option.
- Pick the drive, partition, or folder where you think your photos may be, then select Choose.
- Wait for the scan to finish and inspect the results.
4. Use data recovery software to restore Adobe Lightroom files
If the missing photos were on Adobe Lightroom for desktop or mobile, their fragments remain in the device’s storage. Once deleted, the operating system only removes the address to a photo, and marks the space as empty. However, the data isn’t permanently gone until you introduce new data that overwrites it. If that hasn’t happened yet, restore removed Adobe Lightroom photos via data recovery software like this:
- Download the data software for Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS, depending on where you lost the photos. Our “Best” site section lists the top data rescue software choices for each operating system.
- Note. You will need a Windows PC or a Mac computer and a USB cable for the most efficient data restoration from Android or iOS devices.
- Install and run the software. Connect your iPhone, iPad, or Android device via a USB/Lightning to US cable if you’re using those.
- Select the drive, partition, folder, or device in the software’s File Explorer window. The more precise the location of the lost photo files, the faster the scan.
- Opt for a Deep Scan if offered, then begin scanning.
- Wait for the scan results, and use the inbuilt filters to only browse Photos or Images.
- Put checkmarks in front of the Lightroom photos you want to get back.
- Select the Recover or Restore button.
- Choose a new location for the rescued Lightroom photos.