I find myself incredibly frustrated with Adobe products again. I don’t know why it’s so hard to make sorting and tagging software that just works, although I suppose having over 465,000 photos may stretch the limits of any software. But my recent woes are not directly related to that…
I normally use Photoshop Elements 9’s organizer tool to organize and tag all of my photos. This works decently well, except when I got a new hard drive. For some reason, the software associates photos to a drive ID (rather than the drive letter), and is extremely stubborn about keeping that drive ID mapping intact when the drive letter changes. This was already a bit of a problem a year ago when I got a new (bigger) hard drive, found that all the photos were no longer found on the new drive (but still searchable with thumbnails, thankfully), and found that the built-in “Find Missing Photos” tool was a huge piece of unusable garbage that was completely impractical to use to fix everything.
It seems like newer versions of Organizer has the concept of “offline hard drives” and has an easy way for you to re-assign an entire drive or folder groups when they’re moved. But my version doesn’t. So it’s generally a horrible combination of “tries to detect drives” and “doesn’t have a way for you to fix things when the drive changes”.
So I lived with it for a year, assuming that I’d just have to deal with any photos older than November 2018 being unable to be directly opened. (Instead, I had to right-click, view the photo properties, and open the corresponding folder on the new hard drive and find the filename. Frustrating, but not completely unusable since I don’t deal with older photos all that often.)
I had the misfortune last weekend of plugging in my old hard drive at the same time as the new one while Organizer was open. The result is that now all photos, even the ones I imported in the past year, are now pointing to the old drive and are therefore running into the missing file problem. (I can’t think of why this would possibly happen, because clearly the new photos were never linked to the old drive ID.)
In any case, I had bought Lightroom a couple of years back (thankfully before they started their subscription-only garbage with it), and it seemed like a potential solution. So… install it, convert my Organizer catalog over and… great… none of the photos have imported their metadata and everything is displaying metadata conflicts and effectively have lost their ability to be searched by date, which is one of the major use cases I have for my organizer. (But at least fixing the drive letter change was easy in Lightroom after I figured out you have to use the folder view and collapse parents to the root. Which was also completely non-intuitive.)
Ignoring the fact that this is also incredibly stupid behavior (why would you take over 30 minutes to convert over a catalog file and then effectively throw away most of the data in that file… it didn’t copy thumbnails nor date data, and seems to have not gotten all of the tags/keywords), I found that the only way to really fix this is to tell it to import metadata from the actual files. Which means it needs to run through all 460,000+ photos. It takes about a second per photo, which wouldn’t be totally horrible if it didn’t also constantly “stick” on random files requiring me to manually remove the file from the library and re-add it before it can continue. So I can’t even just tell it to handle everything and leave it for a week… I have to do it in batches and monitor it fairly constantly.
But fine. Okay. I’ll eat the cost of doing that. Which brings us to today’s fun, where starting another batch of metadata syncing caused the video driver on my computer to crash, eventually requiring a hard reboot. Internet searches seem to indicate that this is a problem many people have with Lightroom in random use cases, maybe caused by a lot of keywords, maybe caused by a specific photo, but generally with no solution.
So I guess my option at this point is… upgrade Photoshop Elements to a version that properly supports drive changes and hope the catalog upgrade is compatible? Except I’m really loathe to give Adobe even more money at this point.
This should not be this complicated.
Maybe it’s time I stopped doing photo tagging.