This is the one setting that I always turn on as soon as I install Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) on any computer: Automatically Write Changes into XMP. I suggest you do the same, because it has saved me many times. I really don’t know why Adobe sets this to ‘off’ by default. It should always be turned on!
I’ll wait while you turn it on…
How To Do It:
- Start up Adobe Lightroom
- PC: Edit > Catalog Settings… | Mac: Lightroom > Catalog Settings…
- Metadata Tab: Ensure that the third checkbox is ticked: “Automatically Write Changes into XMP”.
- Click OK.
- Let Lightroom add .xmp files next to each of your photographs in your library.
Why You Should Turn it On Now
If that little intro wasn’t enough to convince you, I’ll explain.
By default, Lightroom saves all your adjustments in its catalog, located somewhere safe on your hard disk. It doesn’t edit your Raw Files at all. That’s one of the beautiful things about the non-destructive RAW editing process. All your data is left intact.
XMP files come into use when you move your RAW files, or when you want to see the edits in a different application.
In the past, Lightroom has crashed, leaving me with a corrupted .lrcat Catalog file, and many thousand files to re-edit. That’s not a situation I ever want to find myself in.
When XMP Files are Really Useful…
Maybe you’re trying to free up space on your main work drive, or maybe you’re just backing up data.
If those XMP files aren’t being saved next to your RAW files, then you may as well forget that you ever retouched / corrected those images because Lightroom will not be able to reference those changes when you open them up in their new location.
When the tick box is on, all the changes and adjustments that you apply to each image in lightroom are saved to small .xmp files that have the same name as your original RAW files. Here’s what they look like in Windows Explorer.
If this check box has been off, you may have noticed that changes that you make in Lightroom don’t show up in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and vice versa.
Once it’s on, these changes will always appear when you open your files in Photoshop with ACR or if you browse through files in Adobe Bridge. The process is seamless and you don’t have to think about it once it’s turned on. And that’s not even the best part!
Backing Up, or Moving Files is Now Easy
The best part is that when you copy or move your RAW files (along with the new XMP files) you no longer have to worry about whether you need to save a new Lightroom Catalog file for that particular folder, because your edits will move with your files. They’ll always be available to applications that can read the sidecar files, and will always be updated when you make edits to the picture, automatically syncing across Adobe apps.
You also don’t have to worry about corrupted Lightroom Catalog files anymore. You’ll essentially have a backup of your catalog split across each folder that you save your RAW files in.
Sharing Edits Across the Internet
If you’re working with a retoucher, this comes in handy.
You can send them your RAW files to edit. Once all the work is done in Lightroom, all they have to do is send you the .xmp files. You just copy them into the folder along the RAW files import the images, and Voila, you have their edits displayed in Lightroom! This is a fast and efficient way to work with retouching houses who work remotely. The .xmp files are quite small, so file storage and transmission is easy.
There you have it! A simple settings change that can dramatically change the way you work. It can also keep your work safe from the spectre of database corruption.
Do you have any thoughts to add to this? Please leave a comment below if you do!
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