Missing Files


If your audio sessions are constantly being moved between studios or to various external drives, the missing files dialog window within Pro Tools is something you may be familiar with. This tutorial will explain how you can find and re-link the missing files in a number of ways to allow you to spend your time mixing and not hunting around your computer!

Everything In Its Right Place…

So when will you encounter this window and why? Each and every Pro Tools session has a very particular way in which it keeps track of everything from plug-in settings to audio regions, if you want to find out more information about the session structure then check out our article here.

When a session is loaded it will call up all of the regions it used the last time it was open. Should any of these files be missing either through them being deleted or simply moved to a different location from the original, Pro Tools will display the missing files dialog (shown below) which will give you a number of options to call them up again.

Getting Regions Back On Track

So now we understand what this window is all about, let’s look at finding those regions again and bringing them back into our session. As can be seen below, the first thing that will be displayed in the window is an indication of which regions and files are missing, in this case 3 Audio Files.

If you have read our article on the Pro Tools session structure you will know that fade files and rendered files such as rendered elastic audio files can be regenerated by Pro Tools as they are simply stored calculations, this will of course take some time but is one of clever methods in which Pro Tools allows sessions to load so quickly. If you know where those files are and wish to link them back to the session you can use the methods below which we will use for audio and video files, if not you can simply check the boxes at the bottom of the dialog window which will regenerate them for you without searching.

This luxury is of course not available for audio and video files which cannot be simply regenerated, let’s take a look at the three options you will be given when a region is missing from your session…

Skip All: As you can probably decipher, this will simply ignore the fact that regions are missing and continue to open your session, this may be something you wish to do if you are knowingly missing files which you no longer require within your session. Upon opening your session you will see that there are sky blue coloured blank regions in place of those that are missing (as can be seen in the image below).

Manually Find & Relink: This option will bring up the Workspace Browser Relink window allowing you to manually locate and relink the missing files, we will discuss how this can be achieved later in the article.

Automatically Find & Relink: This option will scan for the missing files and relink them automatically (providing they are available on your local system). This will usually do a good job in finding those missing pieces although it can be time consuming for Pro Tools to scan your enitre computer, so it may still be more beneficial for you to link them yourself if you are familiar with the way in which you store your sessions.

If automatic relinking has not done the job or you have chosen to find the missing files yourself, you will need to make use of the workspace browser to find and relink them manually, let’s take a look.

From the Window menu select Project, this will bring up the window shown below which will allow you to browse around your session files and view a variety of information including file paths for example.

If we look at the image below, we can see that our lead keyboard and kick audio regions are greyed out and are therefore missing from the session audio files folder.

With the missing files highlighted, you will now need to head to the Toolbox Menu and select Relink Selected, this will move it into the relink are ready to be matched as can be seen below.

Now that we have established which files are missing and prepared them for relinking we of course need to now locate the file and link it to the session. Using the workspace browser, locate the file which Pro Tools is looking for and drag it into the candidates section of the relink window as shown below.

Notice that as well as the files saved name, a Unique ID is also associated with the file, this means that if for any reason you have accidently renamed a file during a transfer, Pro Tools will still recognise it as what existed originally – handy!

Now we have done all the hard work of locating the missing pieces of the puzzle, all we need to do is select the relink button to the left of the candidate files…

…And then select Commit Links at the top of the relink window. You should now notice that those blank sky blue regions of your sessions are now full once again with the original waveforms!

Safe And Sound

So what happens if the file you have relinked is not within your session folder and your plan is to transfer the session again in the future, fair chance is that the next engineer will have to go through the same process again and may even have the issue of a few files being missing altogether during the transfer.

With this in mind, it is probably easier for us to transfer said files into the sessions own folder for much easier management. This can be performed very easily from the Project Browser, simply highlight the regions which have been relinked and then select ‘Copy and Relink’ from the Toolbox menu, Pro Tools will now ask you where you wish to save a copy of the regions which for simplicity reasons should really be your sessions Audio Files folder, the files will now be copied to the new location and Pro Tools will now reference from the new location so everything is all made nice and tidy for you!

Final Words

We hope that you have found this tutorial useful, there is nothing worse than the first time you load up a session to find that all of its elements are missing, but now you have the knowledge to get back on track!

If you have made use of these methods then please leave us a comment below or Tweet us!

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