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44 Messages


1.1K Points

Mon, Jun 25, 2018 7:21 AM


Lightroom Classic: Write to xmp workflow

I do the Lightroom Classic CC training for my camera club.

There are a number of members whose Lightroom image files are all over the place on one or more drives.

For each member I want to effectively move all their images into a single structure on a single drive without upsetting their development changes.

Clearly, manually dragging and dropping image files and folders within the Lightroom Library is one method but quite complex and very time consuming when the structures are so different.

Lightroom's Import facility has this wonderful way of physically creating the structure I need. and it seemed to me that a better method is as follows:

With each image having an associated xmp file, removing all their images from Lightroom and then re-importing them into the single hard drive folder structure using the MOVE facility seemed to be the best idea, as Lightroom also includes the xmp detail when importing and the members' develop changes will be included in the import.

By way of a test to make sure of this I created a new empty catalogue, which is set to write changes to xmp, and did an ADD import for 3 jpg files that were on my desktop. No xmp files were created.
I made some changes in develop, no xmp files were created.
Keeping the changes, I removed the files from Lightroom, physically moved the jpg files to another folder and did another ADD import them into Lightroom 

They were imported and immediately adopted the changes that I had made before removing them. This seems to indicate that the changes are saved into the catalogue, even though I said to write them to xmp. It also would indicate that if the changes are held within the catalogue, removing the images from Lightroom does not remove the changes from the catalogue.!!!

I reset all 3 files within Lightroom Develop and removed the files from Lightroom again.
I moved them physically back to my desktop and re-imported them.

They were imported and immediately adopted the original changes, NOT the reset change that I had made before removing them from Lightroom. How confusing is that? I feel that I am starting to run around in circles and this doesn't even start to address the reason for my test.

Can someone please tell me the what, where, how and why of Lightroom xmp files. I am so confused and I am not sure whether my Lightroom Classic v7.4 ACR 10.4 on Windows 10 is performing correctly or not.

Please include what happens when a catalogue is set to write changes to the catalogue only and is then switched to write changes to xmp. How can you 'create' the physical xmp files for each image in the catalogue in order to re-import them or even to 'save' the changes should the catalogue collapse in a heap.

I have used Lightroom since version 2 and my own single catalogue has 130,000 images covering 15 years of photography right up to 2 days ago and every image file has an associated xmp file. It performs well for me.

PS. I had also un-ticked the Catalogue settings box which causes develop settings to be stored in the jpg file itself.
Thank you .


235 Messages


4.1K Points

2 years ago

You will lose much information using the "Save metadata to files and import" method.
This method is fully detailed in this article, along with the info you lose!-

Personally I would be more inclined to do it this way-
1. In a current working catalog, select the 'All Photographs' view,
2. Expand all stacks,
3. [Ctrl+L] to cancel all filters
4. Set the Sort Order to Capture Time,
5. Select the Metadata filter and Set one Column for "Date", (the rest for 'All Photos')
6. Select a YEAR filter (eg. 2018) to show all 2018 photos,
7. [Ctrl+A] to select them all
8. Right-click on a 'Parent' folder in the folder panel, (eg. My Photos)
9. Choose the option to- "Create Folder inside......"
10. Give it a 'Year' name eg. 2018
11. Choose the option to "Include Selected Photos"
Repeat for each filter results for each YEAR of photos, now you have ALL photos moved into "Year" sub-folders under one 'Parent' folder. Preserving everything (except for the old folder structure!)More work can further divide into 'Month' folders if needed.


44 Messages


1.1K Points


Thank you for your recommendations.

I have now trialled your method and it is so cool.

I had not realised that as well as creating folder structures, that you could actually move selected files within Lightroom at the same time and therefore not lose any of the Lightroom info, whether set to use xmp or catalogue for adjustments.

Moving within Lightroom was always going to be the best way to do it, as I explained in my text, but I had thought it far too onerous as a manual task.

Well, with your simple method and using Lightroom's hitherto unknown (to me) ability of simultaneously moving selected files from within the library filter it is really easy and I can have a new structure based upon date and in a new location in place very quickly indeed.

I found that just exporting a single file to a 'yet to be displayed in Lightroom' physical drive letter and adding it to the catalogue allows me to then create the new structure on a totally different drive altogether and move the files across which is exactly what I want.

Well done, and thank you for replying and helping me. I am very grateful for that.

I can now consider

a. why I am not seeing xmp files in my trial catalogue as I should.

b. Why not all the adjustments are kept within the xmp files, which, if they are not, seems quite bizarre!

as quite separate issues.


62 Messages


1.1K Points

2 years ago

A couple of thoughts
1. As mentioned, not all edits are stored in the xmp files. I believe that  adjustment brush type of edits are not.
2. When you said you deleted the files, moved them to another folder, imported from the new folder and the edits were in place - that is a serious bug. edits should be  per file (directory/filename) not just filename. As a further test,
2,1 lets say you do an edit on fileAAA in folderAAA
2.2 you then go behind LRs back and delete fileAAA
2.3 put fileAAA into folderBBB and import; you say the edits in folderAAA/fileAAA are applied. I believe this is a bug
2.4 delete folderBBB/fileAAA and put in a new file; rename it fileAAA put it into folderBBB
2.5 reimport the new-folderBBB/fileAAA file and see what happens.

As difficult as it seems, I woudl suggest going through the "import catalog" approach and then move the files under LR.

Or you can move the files under windows and then have LR go find them

Any chance you had that "lr goes finds missing files" option turned on in 2.3 above?

No idea why the XMPs are not being generated though

22 Messages


460 Points

2 years ago

I think the safest method is to move the folders and associated files to the new drive location and then use LR's find file utility.

Use that method a lot when I want to create contact sheets for a roll of film using the print module then relocate the individual images to their destination folders using a different software package, before finally clicking on the question mark to tell LR to find the image in its new home.

799 Messages


11.5K Points

2 years ago

The Photo Taco Podcast just did one on XMP files, that might help.

981 Messages


16.6K Points

2 years ago

You could also use Bridge with a script, then synchronize in Lightroom. Best way is to just do the moves manually in LR, though.

110 Messages


2.1K Points

2 years ago

Michael, you say that you imported 3 JPEG files but you did not see XMP files created.
That is because XMP files are not created for JPEG, but for RAW files.
The changes you make to some other files, like DNG and TIFF and also JPEG (I believe) can be written directly to the files.
That's probably why you DID see the changed JPEGs after re-import behave not like "new" but like "edited" files, even though there was no XMP file to tell LR that the files had been edited.

Do your testing again (if not for this project, because I understand Robert has given you a nice way to work with your problem, then just to better understand XMP files and their behaviour) with a RAW file (not DNG).
* import a couple of RAW files
* make some changes
* delete the files from the catalog, but not from disk
* remove a couple of the XMP files that will have been created (if preferences were set to automatically srite to XMP or by manually saving to XMP) and leave some intact
* re-import the RAW files again
* you will see that some files will show up with the edits you made (the ones with the XMP files) and some will show up like unedited files.

Good luck