by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I always have the setting Automatically write changes into XMP enabled. Unfortunately as I'm still often improving/experimenting with my workflow, I tend to delete/create catalogs every once in awhile. For this reason, I also have refrained from using more of the collection-based features e.g. keywords because I'm afraid I may lose some data when deleting a catalog.

What data is stored exclusively in a LR3 catalog? And if I delete a catalog, what data will I lose, if any?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The XMP sidecar will store data about a specific image, such as (but not limited to):

  • keywords
  • title
  • caption
  • ratings / colors
  • geoencoding

The Lightroom catalog file stores data about your organization of images. Such data might be:

  • the file/folder locations for your images
  • collections / smart collections
  • stacks
  • workflow steps, such as whether an image has been uploaded to an online service
  • other data added to a catalog by third-party plugins

Hopefully this helps clear up what data can be stored in XMP vs. what needs to be stored in the catalog. Of course, one big distinction is that data in the catalog is specific to Lightroom, while data in a XMP sidecar file can be read by any application which reads XMP.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.