In my last blog post about XMP sidecar files and Lightroom, there were quite a few comments and questions. In the course of answering some of those questions, I realized that there are a few tricks to using the XMP files so that you can transfer images from one computer to another and have all of your develop and metadata settings in Lightroom retained between machines.
The key to all of this is understanding that the XMP files are not automatically updated beyond the information included in the Library Module unless you export your XMP sidecar files after making all of your adjustments. Hence, a critical step in a workflow with Lightroom - if you want to have access to all of the settings you’ve made in the Develop Module is to export the XMP sidecar files after you have made the final adjustments your images. To do this, select all of your images, then Export the XMP metadata by going to (in the menu bar) Metadata > XMP > Export XMP Metadata to Files. This will save all of your settings to the XMP file and update each XMP file.
Now, sadly, exporting the XMP sidecar files will not record the creation of Virtual Copies and the settings you made to those or any other information regarding stacking, slideshows, etc. Basically it includes all of the keywords, metadata, ranking and ratings and all changes made in the develop mode to the original RAW file. To transfer these other settings you would have to copy the Lightroom cache file along with the folder of images and load all of that onto the other machine.
An easier way of dealing with all of this is to have your Lightroom cache and the images on an external hard drive that you can switch between computers. For most of us that is impractical and if that external drive is FireWire or USB 2.0, the connection speed of either will drastically slow down Lightroom as it tries to read the cache and images from the external hard drive.
I wish I had better news on an easy way to work up your images on your laptop, then transfer those settings to your office computer when you get back from a shoot but it isn’t always straight forward or easy. It can be done though. I am sure Adobe is working on this issue as we speak and hopefully we’ll see an easy solution to this issue in an update or Version 2.0.
For my work, I can generally wait to get back into the office and download my images to my imaging machine and keep all of my Lightroom settings on that computer. If a client needs images while I am in the field and I have to work them up on my laptop then I will do so but otherwise everything runs through my imaging computer in the office. For most clients I explain that for the best image quality and color management it would be best if I don’t work the images up on my laptop and I wait to do that work back in the office. Hopefully laptop displays will get better and that will change but so far I haven’t seen a laptop screen that can compare to my Apple Cinema Display in terms of color accuracy.
That’s it for this week. I hope this helps to clear up a few issues with the XMP sidecar files.
Adios, Michael Clark