Lightroom: "Date Modified" for all files being updated when browsing photos if Catalog Settings > "Automatically write changes into XMP" is checked on

  • 3
  • Problem
  • Updated 6 years ago
  • Not a Problem
  • (Edited)
Recently upgraded from LR3 (v3.4.1) from LR2 on OSX 10.6.7 and have always had Catalog Settings > Automatically write changes into XMP turned on.

When browsing files in my Library (not making any Develop changes at all, no keywording, etc.), LR3 is writing to disk — i.e., when I look at files in Finder, almost every viewed file’s “Date Modified” is being set to today’s date and time.

This is really bad, as it's making it impossible for me to use Finder to figure out when I last worked with a file, it is triggering needless Time Machine and Backblaze backups, and unnecessarily churning my disk.

If I turn off "Automatically write..." this behavior stops. Per David Marx at, I tried turning off this preference, manually doing a "Save Metadata to File" for all files, letting that complete, then turning the preference back on. This does not solve the problem.

I could understand this behavior if I were adding keywords or making changes in the Develop module, but just browsing/viewing files should *never* do this.

-- David
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David Pope

  • 9 Posts
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  • upset LR is ruining my pristine files

Posted 8 years ago

  • 3
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Benjamin Warde, Employee

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Official Response
Hi David,

Steve is correct, this is not a bug. There are a few things that changed regarding metadata between versions 2 and 3. There were a bunch of changes in the Develop module, and those new settings need to be stored in the metadata somewhere. Additional changes were also made to bring Lightroom's metadata reading and writing into compliances with the Metadata Working Group specification (

This means that a file's metadata will inevitably be different between versions 2 and 3. If you wish to store a file's metadata only in the Lightroom catalog, then there will be no effect on your photo files. But if you choose write that metadata back to the files (either by having auto-write turned on, or by explicitly choosing to save the metadata to files) then the files will be updated, because the metadata stored in the file, and the metadata stored in the catalog obviously can't be different.

If you were using raw files, that metadata would be stored in XMP sidecar files, so I would not expect the photo file itself to be changed. Since you're using JPEGs, the metadata is stored within the file itself.

This will be a one time change. In other words, once the file has been updated by Lightroom 3, it will not be updated again (unless or until you actually make a change to the file, of course). If you find that this is not the case, please reply here to let me know.