Photoshop Album Hackery

In the last episode of “Alan Does Sketchy Things,” we updated post formats in a WordPress 3.2 installation.
Today, we bring you “Mass moving photos in a Photoshop Elements 5.0 organizer album.”

So Photoshop Elements organizer does have a built-in “Reconnect Missing Files” tool. However, this tool is super slow and clunky, and can only update one folder of photos at a time. In my case, I wanted to move well over 100 folders of photos, which amounted to over 100,000 individual files. Doing this through the reconnect files tool would have been way too slow. (It is also prone to causing the program to freeze, which then requires a lengthy database recovery process on next startup. Not fun.)

Fortunately for us, the photo album file (Catalog.psa) is nothing more than a Microsoft Access database. Even though the extension isn’t right, Access can still open the file without any problems.

So do that, and we see a few tables. There’s only one relevant to us: ImageTable. Open this up and you’ll see a list of every image in the catalog. There are two columns in this table that store the path to the file: fImageOriginalFilePath and fMediaFullPath.

Fixing them is as easy as doing a find-replace (which you can access via Ctrl-F). We’ll do each of the two columns separately.
Enter the old file path (for example, G:\0_Galleries2\), replace with the new file path (for example, G:\0_Galleries\), look in the fImageOriginalFilePath column only, and set match to “Any Part of Field”. Replace, and you should be set. Repeat for the fMediaFullPath column.

In my case, I had way too many rows in the table (277072 rows). This causes occasional “You can’t replace the current value of the field with the replacement text.” errors. Fortunately, retrying seems to work fine. It took me about 25 search and replace operations per column to fix up all of the relevant rows.

Once you’re done, save and open the album back up in Photoshop Organizer. I asked it to reconnect all missing files just to make sure things looked good, and then opened a few of the moved files to make sure it was properly detecting them.


5 thoughts on “Photoshop Album Hackery

  1. I’ve been contemplating switching to Lightroom, which would probably be much better (especially in dealing with photos on external hard drives), but meh. Like most of my stuff, I will probably use it until it breaks before finding an alternative.

  2. Ive been using Lightroom since 2.0 or so and really like it. Though I gave up on Photoshop Elements because I mostly shoot in raw and that doesn’t work as well in Elements. I did like the editing capability (different from the developing adjustments Lightroom allows) in Elements. The newer versions of Elements also look nicer than version 6 or 7 which is what I used.

    As a note they are in the free Beta stage for Lightroom 4.0 right now if you wanted to try it.

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