How to Recover Lightroom Catalog Files? | LRCAT File Recovery

Want to recover deleted Lightroom catalog? This article with detailed information about how to recover deleted LRCAT files is worth reading.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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“How do I recover a deleted catalog in Lightroom?”

Are you a photography enthusiast who uses Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit your photos? If so, you understand the importance of having a well-organized catalog to keep track of all your valuable images.

However, accidents happen, and you may find yourself in a situation where your Lightroom photos and even catalog get accidentally deleted or lost.


Deleted LRCAT how to get back my edits


I accidentally deleted my Lightroom catalog, and I'm freaking out. I've been working on it for hours, and I don't want to start from scratch. Has anyone been through this before? Is there any way to recover a deleted Lightroom catalog? I'm using Adobe Lightroom Classic on my Windows 10 PC.


- Question from forum


Some users are in need of ways to recover deleted files from Lightroom, e.g., photos, catalogs, etc.

Don't panic! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of recovering a deleted Lightroom catalog, ensuring that your precious photos are not lost forever.

Before diving into the recovery process, it's essential to understand what a Lightroom catalog is and why it gets lost.


What is a LRCAT file?

In simple terms, a catalog is a database that stores information about your photos, such as file locations, edits, keywords, and more. Think of it as a virtual library that helps you quickly locate and manage your images.

Through LRCAT files, you can make edits to your photos without overwriting the original files in your storage. Instead, every modification is stored within the catalog file alongside its corresponding LRCAT-DATA file, enabling non-destructive picture editing.


Common causes of Lightroom catalog loss

Accidental deletion of a Lightroom catalog can occur due to various reasons.

  • Some common causes include mistakenly deleting the catalog file, formatting the storage device, or experiencing a system crash.
  • Additionally, hardware malfunctions, software conflicts, or even malware attacks can contribute to the loss of your catalog.

But don’t be frustrated; the following methods can help you recover deleted LRCAT files lost due to deletion, formatting, etc.

How to recover deleted Lightroom catalog files in Windows 10/11?

Now let's explore the step-by-step process of recovering a deleted Lightroom catalog.

Method 1. Recover deleted LRCAT files even after permanent deletion

Since data loss accidents always come without any warnings and very suddenly, many users cannot restore deleted or lost files from backups.

But don’t worry; without a backup, you can still attempt to recover deleted Lightroom catalog using file recovery software. For most users, utilizing a third-party data recovery solution provides the best chances of successful data retrieval.

These tools scan your storage device for deleted files and provide options for recovery. However, it's crucial to act quickly and avoid using the affected device to prevent overwriting the deleted data.

MyRecover is cutting-edge data recovery software that empowers you to effortlessly retrieve your valuable files with just a few clicks.

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  • Restoration of deleted and missing files from various storage devices such as HDD, SSD, USB, and SD cards.
  • Recovery support for commonly used image formats, including png, jpg, tif, and psd.
  • Additionally, videos, audio files, documents, spreadsheets, slides, and emails can also be recovered.
  • The recovered data retains its original format, filename, path, and quality.
  • Efficient data recovery processes that save valuable time during scanning.
  • Compatibility with Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7 SP 1, with the capability to restore deleted files from Windows Server 2016.
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Don't let data loss disrupt your workflow. Choose MyRecover, your reliable companion for seamless and efficient data recovery. Experience peace of mind and regain access to your precious files with MyRecover today.

Step 1. Download and launch the data recovery application. Hover the mouse over the affected drive or partition that contains the deleted photos or locate the Recycle Bin. Click Scan.


Step 2. While the scan is in progress, you need not wait for the complete scanning results. Utilize the available filters, such as Size, Type, and Date modified, to search for the specific files you require. For example, you can input "lrcat" to locate your desired files.


Step 3. Navigate to the Recycle Bin folder and find the permanently deleted Lightroom catalog. Choose the desired files and initiate the recovery process by clicking on "Recover x files".


This powerful tool ensures a seamless file recovery experience for Windows 10 and 11 users, instilling reliability and professionalism.

A free version is available, enabling the recovery of up to 30 MB of files. Additionally, three subscription plans are offered: Monthly, Yearly, and Lifetime providing unlimited data recovery capabilities upon upgrading to the Pro/Tech version.

Method 2. Recover from the Recycle Bin

When files are deleted on the Windows system, they are temporarily stored in a dedicated directory known as the Recycle Bin. This temporary storage serves as a safety net in case you regret or change your mind.

If the deleted files are not in the Recycle Bin, they have been permanently deleted. You might as well use MyRecover to restore permanently removed files.

>> Double-click on the Recycle Bin icon located on your desktop > select the LRCAT files you wish to restore > right-click on the selected file(s) and click "Restore". Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file(s) to the desired folder.


Method 3. Recover deleted LRCAT files via File History

Windows provides built-in backup features known as Windows File History and Windows Backup and Restore. These automatic backup utilities regularly create backups of your files, preserving historical versions of your data.

However, these features are not enabled by default. If enabled at the time of data loss, you can rely on them to retrieve a copy of your data, provided the affected files were in a backup-enabled folder.

If you find File History not working on Windows 11, check the tutorial to fix it.

Step 1. Start Control Panel > System and Security > File History.


Step 2. Click Restore personal files.


Step 3. Go to the path where the LRCAT files were stored > select and click the Recover button to get them back.


This tool can also help you recover deleted PSD files.

How to open Lightroom catalog – LRCAT files?

LRCAT files can only be accessed by installing Adobe Lightroom Classic; no alternative software exists for opening this file format.

  • To open an LRCAT file using Lightroom Classic,  launch the Lightroom Classic program and navigate to File > Open Catalog.
  • To check your default catalog, choose Edit > Preferences > General > check Default Catalog.

Furthermore, it's important to note that LRCAT files are not backward compatible. Consequently, files created using a newer version of Lightroom Classic cannot be opened using previous versions of the program.

If you intend to utilize a Lightroom Classic catalog file with the regular version of Lightroom, it must be converted to an MCAT file.

Precautions to prevent Lightroom file loss

To avoid the stress of losing your Lightroom catalog in the future, consider implementing these preventive measures:

  • Regularly backup your Lightroom catalog and store backups in multiple locations.
  • Keep your computer and storage devices secure by using reliable antivirus software.
  • Be cautious when deleting files and double-check before confirming any deletions.
  • Invest in a robust data recovery solution to increase the chances of successful recovery.



Wrap things up

Losing a Lightroom catalog can be a distressing experience for any photographer. However, by following the steps outlined in this guide, you can recover deleted Lightroom catalog with ease.

Remember to act quickly, utilize backups whenever possible, and seek professional data recovery software for help if needed. With the right approach, your Lightroom catalog and all your precious photos can be restored.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.