This quick article outlines one of the most important settings in Lightroom that you need to change (seriously!) If you haven’t done so already you should drop everything and turn on the Automatically write changes into XMP setting.

If your Lightroom catalogue ever becomes corrupted and you haven’t turned on this setting you will lose every edit, keyword and history for your entire library. Ouch! With sidecar files enabled you will be able to re-import the files and have Lightroom be able to see all of this information with each file – saving countless hours of re-doing work.

How to enable the writing to XMP setting

  1. Click on the ‘Edit’ menu, followed by “Catalog Settings”
  2. Click on the ‘metadata’ tab
  3. Check the “Automatically write changes into XMP” box and click “OK”

Watch the really short video below to see the above instructions in practice:

What this setting does

You may or may not know that, by default, Lightroom saves all of the information about your photos in it’s own internal database. From basic keywords, edit history and your precious develop settings are locked away inside Lightroom. By turning on Automatically write changes into XMP Lightroom will create a small sidecar file for all of your photos that will hold all of this information right next to your RAW files.

Another added bonus is that if you want to send a RAW file to someone to edit, you can send the XMP file along with it to have the recipient be able to see your edits, keywords etc.

So without further ado, I urge you to follow the video above and turn this setting on. In my opinion Adobe should have this option on by default for every Lightroom installation.

Backing up your catalog will also save you from having you to re-do everything as well – but the backup will probably be at least a day, week or month behind your latest editing session.

Next Steps

If you’re starting out with a brand new library then you’re done. Each new file you import will have the XMP file created along side. However if you have existing files in your library there is one more step to create the XMP files for your existing images.

  1. In your lightroom library go to the ‘All Photographs’ collection
  2. Press the ctrl (PC) or cmd (Mac) key plus the letter ‘A’ to select your entire library
  3. Press the ctrl (PC) or cmd (Mac) key plus the letter ‘S’ to save the XMP files for all of your photos. This may  take quite a while if you have a large library and/or a slow hard drive. My 30,000 strong image library took about half an hour to complete.

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