Lightroom Tips

Fstoppers: Hidden Lightroom Script to Recover Lost Photos

Alright, this is one of those posts that you should bookmark and tuck away in your “I hope I don’t ever need, but I’m going to save anyway” folder. I just read an article over on the Fstoppers website by Gary Martin that looked pretty cool. The idea is that if you build full size previews for your image in Lightroom, that preview is stored somewhere. Well, what happens if you ever accidentally lose/delete a photo or your hard drive crashes or something along those lines – but your Lightroom catalog is still intact. Well, that photo is gone but Lightroom may still have the preview it built and this script he wrote about can help you extract it. It won’t be the actual raw photo but it’ll be a darn close replacement for it as opposed to nothing.

Here’s a link to the article over on The only thing I’d add is that he recommends to build 1:1 previews for everything. But for me, I usually build standard previews, and any image I work on (and zoom in to), will get a 1:1 preview built automatically by zooming in to it. So I wouldn’t necessarily build 1:1 for everything – just my selects or really important images. But still, it’s definitely something to keep tucked away in case you need it. Thanks Gary! 🙂



  1. BARRY 10 December, 2016 at 04:45 Reply


  2. Molly Bolinger 4 March, 2016 at 15:23 Reply

    After copying from Desktop into created Lightroom Script folder and clicking on Scripts in Lightroom I get this message: There is no application set to open the document “ExtractPreviews.lua”.

    I’m using a Mac and Lightroom 6. Does anyone have advice to help?


  3. Alison 11 June, 2014 at 16:48 Reply

    If I extract the previews, will they still show in my lightroom catalog? Right now all of my previews are showing and I would hate to lose them because I need to reorganize everything after a hard drive loss.

    • Megan 14 December, 2014 at 17:29 Reply

      I am attempting to recover photos from a crashed hard drive, however I did not render the previews before the hard drive crashed. Is there any way to recover the preview that I see in lightroom? Does lightroom automatically generate some form of a preview that I can recover?
      Thank you,

      • Scott Kelby 14 December, 2014 at 22:11 Reply

        Hi Megan: If you don’t see the preview in Lightroom, I don’t know of any way to get it to regenerate the previews without having the original images. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I’ve never heard of way. So sorry I couldn’t help more.

        • Ian Smith 3 January, 2015 at 04:09 Reply

          Forgive if this is noobish question. My situation is similar to Megan.Recently, I realized that a number of my files are missing in LR5,upon trying to locate them I realized that they are not on my cpu, I believed deleted or lost in a rep[laced crashed drive. I can still see the previews via the LR catalog,is there any way for me to rescue/recover the lost images?

  4. raden adams 26 February, 2014 at 13:02 Reply

    Hi Mat,
    I haven’t read the entire article yet but I got very careless and in a hurry while moving some files to an external hard drive last week and accidentally deleted several hundred photos. So, I extracted previews to recover them and most were large standard previews at first but I had upgraded to LR5 a few months ago and started building minimal previews on import because It was faster and several of them are so small they are almost worthless. Do you think I could try to resize some of them someway and still maintain the quality. Some of them are miniscule! The extractor could only recover a jpeg preview even though 90% of the files were raw and I wondered if I could just tell LR5 to build standard previews and see if that might work. Or, just do a large resize?? But I really can’t imagine much could be done to a tiny jpeg image. So, now, I am building at least standard previews and maybe 1.1 and never discarding them in case it happens again because I was able to recover almost 100 percent of them. I don’t know or think a lot of amateurs or advanced amateurs, like myself, are even aware that you can recover deleted photos by extracting previews from the preview file or catalog like that are not; I’m glad to see you and fstoppers blogging and posting about it so more people will know. I am going to read your post to see how they suggest you recover previews and hopefully there may be another way and I could still recover a few that are larger. I hope you don’t mind if I retweet it and share it with some people because I know there are several who have lost photos and don’t know how to recover the previews. I couldn’t believe it when I first read your post because I do not remember ever seeing anyone else blog or tweet about recovering previews before. I always enjoy visiting your site, reading all your posts and blog because I always learn something new every time I stop in and you have helped me tremendously Thanks again..

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