Lightroom: Deleting empty sub-folders that have ? on them

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  • Updated 3 years ago
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I am trying to delete the seven folders shown in the screen shot and am unable to do so. I moved the photos in those folders up to the parent Vacation 2003 folder. How can I delete those folders and keep the catalog intact? I am using Lightroom CC.
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Ed Hennigan

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Posted 3 years ago

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Right-click on the 2003 folder and choose Remove.  If that's not working, tell us more.
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Ed Hennigan

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If I right click on that folder and try to remove, nothing happens. The same with the other folders. If I left click on any of them once or twice about 4K photos show up from various folders and dates within the catalog. The number of photos in each folder remain at zero and the photos that show up in each folder are exactly the same. Moving the photos from the sub-folders to the parent folder was all completed within LR and not within the OS or use of another software. LR created the sub-folders on import and I would like all the photos back in one folder. I have multiple other parent folders that have similar sub-folders. I want to put those into parent folders as well but not until I can get this first move corrected.  Any help is appreciated
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Tom Mickow

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And in case you didn't know, the "?" in the folder icons means Lightroom can't find those folders.  Most likely reason is you're moving files & folders in the operating system or some other tool, rather than doing everything in Lr.  That's a big no-no.  You want to do all your file management in Lr.  It'll save you a ton of headaches and frustration down the road.

Here's a link to a quick video by Julianne Kost that may help too - Don't Move Photos Behind Lightroom's Back
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Ed Hennigan

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Yes, I do know what the "?" in the folder icon means. The files within the sub-folders were moved using LR to move them into the parent folder. LR created the sub-folders on import and was used to move the files to the parent. All files moved to the parent can be viewed in the Library and worked on in the Develop module. So, not sure why the ? is on all those folders as those folders are empty on the HD. also not sure why those folders can't be removed. I would think that if there was a folder on the HD with multiple photos taken over multiple dates that it could be imported into LR with everything still in one folder instead of multiple folders. There probably is a way but I'm missing that step during the import setup. Always more to learn.
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Tom Mickow

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The description in your response to Victoria kind of sounds like there could be some catalog corruption.  You might want to try optimizing the catalog (It's under File --> Optimize Catalog in the Windows version.) and/or restoring from a backup.  Victoria's site has info on restoring here.

Regarding Lr putting images in subfolders automatically, that's an option you control in the Import dialog.  In the Destination panel in the right hand pane of the Import screen, change the Organize drop down from "By date" to "Into one folder".  That should change the behavior to what you're looking for.

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Sorry I missed your reply Ed.  If you right-click > Remove and that's not working, I'd agree with Tom that there might be some catalog corruption.

If you don't use Publish Services, I'd try creating a new catalog and using File menu > Import from Another Catalog to pull all of your data into the clean catalog.  Minor corruption usually gets left behind in the process.