I often tell people that this is the one setting in Lightroom that you MUST change.
By default Lightroom only stores metadata and develop settings for your images in the Lightroom Database (Catalog). That includes any titles, captions, keywords and copyright information you supply.
Most significantly it means all the information about how to process your images are not stored with your images. So if anything happens to the lightroom catalog you loose all the work you have done in Lightroom. By changing one setting that information is also written out to the XMP data for each image – a sort of image by image back up!
From the edit menu on the windows version (I think it is on the Lightroom menu on a mac) select “Catalog Settings”
On the metadata tab ensure that “automatically write changes in to XMP” is set. If you don’t do this the develop settings for you images will ONLY exist in the Lightroom catalog. If this is set those settings are output with the metadata for the image. Thus if anything does happen to your catalog file, the develop settings still exist for each image.
Let me give you a real world example. Let me state at this point that I regularly backup my catalog, I have multiple copies and backups. A couple of months ago I had spent a day working on several hundred images in Lightroom. I was rushing out to an event at my studio and exited lightroom and closed down my PC By the time I’d driven to the studio the portable drive I was using had become corrupt. LR could not open the catalog I had been working on all day. No amount of Adobe recovery could restore it, and although I had backups because I had been rushing to go out on this occasion I had skipped the “backup now” prompt – so none of the backups had any of that day’s work.
Thankfully I had had the option “automatically write changes to XMP” set. All I needed to do was create a new catalog and re-import all the images I had been working on. All the metadata and all the develop settings were imported too!
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