So, somehow I managed to erase folders containing some pictures. Now that I'm over my own stupidity, I ask, is there a way I can export Lightroom's thumbnails whatever the resolution they are?

I usually import everything with full thumbs, so if there's a way, I should be able to at least have a record of what I've lost :(

[Edit] - It is a windows in NTFS. Thanks for the Idea, but these were deleted quite a while ago, I don't think I'd be able to recover the original files. I could just use a good program to read the lightroon's db files.

I have found the "LRViewer" somewhere here in the Q&A's but it doesn't manage to export many of the pictures for some reason. I'd appreciate more options.



  • \$\begingroup\$ How long ago did you erase the folders? What is the Operating system? You may be able to recover some or all of the folders/files. \$\endgroup\$
    – seanmc
    Jan 30, 2011 at 0:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Like seanmc said, you might be able to recover those files, but if you keep using the computer, other files will be written over the space where the photos are. When you deleted those photos, they weren't gone, you just couldn't see them. \$\endgroup\$
    – tomm89
    Jan 30, 2011 at 5:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh.. I'm pretty sure it was quite a while ago but couldn't tell really when. I only found they were missing when I was looking through the old archive I have. Anyways, Its a Windows on NTFS. Anyway, if I was to recover it, which program would you recommend? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – flpgdt
    Jan 31, 2011 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to photo.SE! And good luck - certainly sounds like a crummy situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Reid
    Jan 31, 2011 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have successfully used "NTFS Undelete" to get back stuff that I had accidentally deleted (stuff that did NOT go into the Recycle Bin). \$\endgroup\$
    – seanmc
    Feb 1, 2011 at 2:01

3 Answers 3


Lightroom previews should be stored as individual files in the "Lightroom 3 Catalog Previews.lrdata" folder. This folder is kind of unruly, with two levels of folders...single hexadecimal numbered folders from 0-F, subleveled by quad hexadecimal numbered folders filled with folders that cover the parent folders hex value (i.e. folder "0" contains folders like "00BC", while folder "F" contains folders like "F0A1".) Within each subfolder is an .lrprev file. These files contain previews of various sizes, in JPEG format (at least, I've only ever seen JPEG).

You can extract these images with the tool BitmapRip. Simply copy all the .lrprev files into a temporary folder, say C:\LRPreviews. Copy the BitmapRip executable to this folder, and at a command line run the following:

for %1 in (*.lrprev) do BitmapRip %1

All previews should be extracted into the same folder. If you had full-size previews, you should have full-sized JPEG copies. Sadly, I don't think it is possible to retrieve RAW versions, and I have never seen any TIFF versions. But, at least you'll have some JPEGS.

(Original source for this technique: http://www.flickr.com/groups/adobe_lightroom/discuss/72157603510380245/)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Now, that's the level of geekness I was looking for! Will try it and report soon. thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – flpgdt
    Jan 31, 2011 at 9:25

Lightroom stores data in two files: 'lrcat' and 'lrdata'. Depending on your operating system (Mac or Windows), you might be able to recover the images (previews) from the 'lrdata' file. For Mac, you can try software such as this: http://echoone.com/filejuicer/formats/lrdata

Good Luck


Plugins which automate this:

rc's Preview Exporter!

jf's Preview Extractor!

If you also try either of these alternatives, please report to the author if there is any discrepancy in maximum preview size recovered. In fact, reporting that maximum preview size is same when using alternatives would also be valuable.


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