I've just started using Lightroom and I'm noticing that after I get done rotating an image and croping, that the underlying file hasn't been updated. I want to move the file outside of lightroom all together to another folder so I need the file updated.

How do I get Lightroom to update the underlying file with the edits/changes I've made to the photo in Lightroom?

I searched for Lightroom isn't updating the underlying file and found one good answer.

Saving Changes to Files in Lightroom (YouTube) - says that Lightroom stores all the changes in an underlying database, but you could using Save Metadata to save the metadata to a file but I'm not seeing how that helps me. I need more than just the metadata saved.

So somehow, I need to get Lightroom to apply all the changes made to a photo and update the underlying file, and then update the lightroom database to say no changes have been made.

The only way I've seen this can work is to export your image which isn't really what I want to do, I want to just update the file in place.

When looking on StackExchange, I came across this question/answer which also explains that the metadata is stored in the Lightroom Catalog.Where does Lightroom keep changes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ vtc b/c Question answers itself. Lightroom does not alter original image files, but saves changes in a database. Images need to be exported prior to use outside of Lightroom. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 1:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Xiota, I'm not sure what vtc means. \$\endgroup\$
    – PatS
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ So is the solution to export all my files to another directory and then copy them back and run Sychronize Folders so Lightroom flushes the database changes for a given photo? \$\endgroup\$
    – PatS
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


So is the solution to export all my files to another directory and then copy them back and run Sychronize Folders so Lightroom flushes the database changes for a given photo?

Sooooo... you could. But the thing is: Lightroom is an opinionated program. It expects to manage your files and it expects to work in its non-destructive paradigm.

It's certainly possible to fight this, and try to fit Lightroom to a different workflow like the one you describe. But if you go that route, you're going to be fighting the whole time.

Bottom line: either change your workflow to let Lightroom manage your catalog, or else find different software.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is an important learning moment and I appreciate you pointing this out. I'm coming from simpler programs like ACDSee and Google's Picasa which created a .originals folder which would hold the original file and then go ahead and change the file being displayed. It's good to realize that I need to change my thought process/workflow in order to best use the application the way it was designed to work. \$\endgroup\$
    – PatS
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've changed my workflow to do all my updates in Lightroom and then export to another directory. I work on photos for one event at a time. Rename all the photos with that event name (keeping the original date/time), and then export them to the archive location that I've picked for permanent storage. This also happens to be another directory within the same catalog. I then delete all the photos from the import directory and re-sync to import my photos that are now in the permanent storage folder location. Thanks again! \$\endgroup\$
    – PatS
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 5:46

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