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Issues with Lightroom 3


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 9, 2012
Hi all,

I am fair new on the forum so my apologies if I make a mistake.

I have a Mac book Pro and I am using Lightroom 3.6 to edit my pictures. A couple of days ago, I have realized that the current catalog I as working on disappeared (with all the editing I have done and all the presets I saved) to return to an old catalog I had when I purchase the software, and which is empty.

I have located the .lrcat file on my computer but this is the one of this new/old catalog. I cannot find the one I have used the past 6months. I am using both my computer and external drive so I have all my raw picture but all the editing disappeared...and it is a lot of work.

I don't think I did something wrong with the program, just used the usual features. My computer did not crash. It is just a big mystery. Did it happen to anyone? Any idea how I could come back to an earlier version of the program (I have not used time machine unfortunately).

Thousands thanks in advance!


macrumors 601
Jul 9, 2012
look in your Time Machine backups for old copies of the catalog files.

BTW, you might want to upgrade to LR 4.


macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
An Island in the Salish Sea
It is highly unlikely that it "just disappeared"... it's more likely that Lightroom has lost track of it. This could be because Lr was started up when your 'real' catalogue was off-line. Or because the catalogue was moved. Or simply because you (accidentally) created a new catalogue and Lr will use this new catalogue until it's told to use the old "real" catalogue.

All you have to do is find the old 'real' catalogue and tell Lr to use that one instead. Start with preferences, and navigate to the catalogue preferences. (Sorry, but I'm not at my computer with Lr installed, so this if from memory). Is there anything useful there?

Or... do a spotlight search for lrcat. That should locate all your Lr catalogues. Figure out where your 'real' one is and then just tell Lr to use that one.

Once you have this sorted out.... Do you backup your catalogue? Time Machine should be making a copy. I also have Lr backup the catalogue more or less daily to a separate folder. And then I have my system make a cloned copy of all system files - including the catalogue and the Lr backup catalogue - nightly.

Good Luck. If you run into any problems, post back.


macrumors newbie
Jun 15, 2012
When you do a search lrcat, remember to search the external drive as well.

If you had “Automatically write changes into XMP” checked in the catalogue preferences, or regularly wrote out the changes, then Lightroom will save the editing instructions and other metadata to .xmp sidecar files for each raw image. If you are unable to recover the catalogue you can import the photos into a new catalogue and Lightroom can import that info from the sidecars. This won't include the presets, just the preset 'recipe' as applied to the individual photos.

Before doing this or anything that might potentially change the files, I suggest backing the image and sidecar files to another directory or drive.
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