Darktable is a non-destructive photo editor that exports to jpeg, png and .xcf (whatever that is, but seems to be the Gimp file format), but doesn't save a workfile containing all the individual preset edits? Why not, how to save those settings for back-up and future reference?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It save them in special database file. And also in XMP file (which are one per image) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ what's the database file. and what is xmp format \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Jan 31, 2022 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Metadata_Platform \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The database file is .xmp? \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Jan 31, 2022 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ no, this is additional file. Darktable store these settings in specific database (search for library): docs.darktable.org/usermanual/3.8/en/special-topics/… XMP is so named side file which in pair with RAW file can be used to reproduce the image and settings \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


Darktable saves edits in sidecar files. Sidecar files have the file extension .xmp and are a list of instructions to reproduce the history of edits.

Because the edits are stored as instructions in the sidecar file, no changes need to be made to the original image whether it is RAW, JPG, TIF, DNG, or something else. That's why Darktable is considered non-destructive (another term for "non-destructive editing" is non-linear editing).

Darktable stores meta-data about the source and the edits in its databases. The databases are managed using SQLite3. On Ubuntu, they are located in ~/.config/darktable. The file library.db contains metadata about pictures and their edits. There is also data.db containing data for styles and module presets. Both can be explored (and modified) using standard SQLite tools.

Unlike RawTherappee where sidecar files are more or less human readable, Darktable's sidecar files are rather cryptic. They are however, in plain text and can be manipulated using your favorite text tools. It is also possible to create new sidecar files by copying and editing an existing file...this is what the "duplicate" action does within Darktable...it just creates a new sidecar file.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't have Ubuntu, is it possible to locate the database on Windows 10? \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Jan 31, 2022 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user610620 Of course it is possible but I don’t have Darktable on Windows. However it sounds like you do. Have you looked using the file explorer? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2022 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure whhere to look \$\endgroup\$
    – user610620
    Feb 1, 2022 at 2:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I just discovered recently that in addition darktable also write the instructions to the metadata of exported images by default, so you can restore them from the exported jpg, in case you lost the raw's sidecar and database. However, this also means that when you share the exported file, you also share your edits, which may not always be desired. \$\endgroup\$
    – luator
    Jul 7, 2022 at 8:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @user610620 It is a bit hidden: Click on the presets-button of the export module, it has an option "preferences..." at the bottom. There you can disable the "develop history" checkbox. I have to admit, I don't know how you can view/load the instructions. I assumed you just need to import the jpg in darktable but that does not seem to work. \$\endgroup\$
    – luator
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:15

On Windows data.db and library.db are in the darktable folder under your Local %APPDATA% folder:

Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.22000.739]
(c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\>cd %LOCALAPPDATA%\darktable

C:\Users\******\AppData\Local\darktable>dir *.db
 Volume in drive C is Acer
 Volume Serial Number is E093-B4E9

 Directory of C:\Users\******\AppData\Local\darktable

2022-07-11  09:00           688,128 data.db
2022-07-10  18:35         2,752,512 library.db

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