Lightroom error "The file appears to be unsupported or damaged" caused by Picasa

Following the purchase of a DSLR camera, I have switched to using raw mode and Adobe Lightroom for post-processing of these photos. Up to now, I have been using Google Picasa to organize and tag my photos. Initially, my collection of photos worked just fine in Lightroom as I invested hours of work of retouching my favourite photos for my gallery. After doing some mass tagging and organization of photos in Picasa, Lightroom stopped reading many of my JPEG photos taken across many years with several different cameras.

Now, when selecting a photo in Lightroom’s Develop mode, I would see a error message:

"The file appears to be unsupported or damaged."

Stupid Lightroom doesn’t provide any additional details or repair options, though further edits to the photo in Lightroom were disabled.

After some research, I found that the metadata headers were still intact, but had been saved by Picasa using a format that isn’t supported by Lightroom.

Cause of Problem

For some reason, Picasa is changing the metadata of the image. I was able to reproduce the problem simply by adding a tag in Picasa, removing it, and then trying to import the JPEG into Lightroom.


The easiest solution is to re-add the tags you removed using Picasa, and then remove them again using Lightroom. If you don’t remember which tags you removed, adding some new tags may work just as well. I found that the length (in characters) of the added tags had to be greater than those I removed.



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2 thoughts on “Lightroom error "The file appears to be unsupported or damaged" caused by Picasa”

  1. Thanks for the post!
    I can confirm the same behaviour.

    Any additional tag in Picasa that is later deleted corrupts the metadata.
    LR i not able to update metadata / import the files modified by Picasa.

    You can clearly see that is a Picasa error because it still displays the removed keyword (although these don’t show up neither in LR, GeoSetter or Opanda IExif).

    As an additional step I recommend removing the folders from Picasa and reimporting them. In this way the gost tags will dissapear.

    Best regards,

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