Pretty much title.

  • I imported a few photos in Lightroom yesterday.
  • Today I shift deleted (Windows Explorer) those photos from the import folder thinking I still have copies on my memory card (I don't)
  • I can see, not edit the .NEF files in lightroom.

How do I save those .NEF raw files back to disk? Here's what I've tried:

  • The export option for these photos is greyed out. I can export as .JPEG but going through the menu I get "Originals missing for some images, smart previews will be used, if available". I don't think I had enabled SP's :( Continuing onwards and trying to export does not write any files to disk.
  • I tried using Window's file recovery tool but the recovered NEF files are corrupted in some way and can't be opened in Photoshop.

Don't shift+delete just because you can folks.

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it have nothing to do with photography (only deleted files in this case are photos) Aug 15, 2021 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


LR just saves the previews of those files. The actual NEF files have been deleted.

So, your chances are the same as with any other deleted computer file. If file recovery tool is unable to recover them, then they are gone for good.

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