Newly consolidated photo links breaking again with no additional location change

Hi! I have recently been conducting significant archival research which prompted my realization that much of my photo organization from previous research could simply not continue. As I have been tediously reorganizing my Tropy photos in better organized (and now permanent) storage folders, I have been consolidating one photo with each new folder and then allowing Tropy to auto-consolidate the remaining folders in the folder. This was working for a while, but as I have nearly reached the end of my reorganization project, I am now discovering that Tropy is telling me some of the photos I have already moved and consolidated in their new locations, need to be consolidated again. Upon discovering this rather strange issue, I produced a list a of the photos paths for my whole project (I could include it here, but it’s rather lengthy as my project consists of 20k photos). The lists of the photo paths surprised me because it was showing the old paths for photos which had already been successfully consolidated in their new locations.

So, my two main questions are:

  1. when I manually consolidate a photo in a new location and Tropy auto-consolidates the rest of the photos in that new folder, should the absolute paths of those photos be changing in the list I produce with terminal?
  2. Why might my photo links be breaking on their own after I successfully consolidated them in their new locations and have not moved them from there?

When you consolidate a photo manually, Tropy will ask whether or not it should try to consolidate other missing files automatically. To do this, Tropy will compile a list of all the photos in the project and check for missing files. For each missing file, it will then compare the paths to the path of the photo or photos you picked manually. If it’s possible to create relative path from the old to the new location, Tropy will then apply that relative path to each missing photo and check if there’s an identical file at that new location. Only if that’s the case will the paths be updated automatically.

This works in many cases, but it really depends on the old and new paths at hand. I would guess that the automatic consolidation was not possible in your case, because there is no mechanism in Tropy that would undo or revert the change to the path. The most common cases were the automatic consolidation will not work is when the file name itself changed or, on Windows, if the file was moved to a path with a new drive letter. If you tell me some of the paths you changed and some of the paths which failed to update we should be able to figure out whether or not that was legitimate.

All this is to say, that, yes, if the auto-consolidation is successful the paths to those photos will change in the database file (I’m assuming your printing out the list of paths using SQLite in the terminal?). And there is no way for the photo paths to change/revert again afterwards, so I’m guessing that the auto-consolidation did not work for those files in the first place.

Thanks for the quick response! Since posting this I went back through some of the items which I thought had auto-consolidated only to discover that they had not, due to them formerly being in separate folders from the photos they now shared a folder with (I had thought that the auto-consolidation would work because I had manually consolidated 1 photo from the new folder, but it appears that the photos in some those new folders–having previously been split into different folders–needed to be auto-consolidated again by first manually consolidating one photo from each of the old folders). I am not sure if that makes much sense, but I seem to have solved my problem!

Otherwise, thank you for explaining the absolute vs. relative paths question with regard to consolidating photos in a new location. I printed the photo paths on terminal when I ran into this problem and was incredibly confused when I saw absolute paths which had not been in use for some time attached to photos that I had definitely viewed on Tropy many times since! So, your explanation in that regard was quite helpful.