I'm looking for recommendations for an XMP sidecar file editor. That is, something that will let me edit standalone .xmp sidecar files, not XMP data embedded within an image. Ideally Windows and preferably inexpensive (or even free). Also preferably something that doesn't impose it's own ideas about workflow - I'm really looking for "Notepad for XMP" rather than something like Adobe Bridge.

Use-case is that I am scanning and archiving old photographic media as DNG files. I'd like to create a standalone XMP file for each DNG to contain the metadata, and I'd like to use an editor that understands the XMP data schema.

(I appreciate that XML is "just" XML, and I can use a text editor to fill-in a boilerplate XML file, or a schema-directed XML editor. Those are my fallbacks, but ideally I'd just like a GUI editor.)


  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain what features you are looking for over and above a notepad equivalent text editor? \$\endgroup\$
    – dmkonlinux
    Feb 11 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your task is IMHO a bit nonsense because DNG store XMP data in the file itself, not external file. If you want to extract meta this is another story. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 6:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmkonlinux An application that lets me create standalone xmp sidecar files \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 10:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Romeo Ninov I'm aware of that. I specifically want to keep the metadata separate to avoid editing the dng files. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 10:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndyJohnson, even if succeed to make XMP file from DNG, when you open DNG in software the XMP will not be taken in consideration. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 10:53

3 Answers 3


ExifTool supports that if you are fine with command line.


  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, but that is describing embedding/extracting xmp to/from image files. I know how to do that. I'm looking for a way to create new xmp files. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 11:41
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Exiftool can create stand alone XMP files. You treat them just like you would image files. For example, to create an XMP file and set the Description, you would use exiftool -Description="My description" file.xmp file.xmp will then be created and have the Description tag set. But as @Euri Pinhollow said, it is command line, not a GUI. \$\endgroup\$
    – StarGeek
    Feb 11 at 22:52

The metadata editor Photini (declaration of interest: I wrote it) can be configured to create XMP sidecars and not to write to the image file. https://photini.readthedocs.io/en/release-2024.2.1/manual/configuration.html


Default text editors on my PC range from vim and nano on the command line to gedit and libre office in gui. The notepad like gedit offers:

Notable Features

  • Files are opened in tabs
  • Full support for internationalized text (UTF-8)
  • Syntax highlighting for lots of languages (Python, Shell, C, C++, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, Markdown and many others)
  • Configurable fonts and colors
  • Print and print preview support
  • Search and replace with support of regular expressions
  • A side panel with an integrated file browser
  • Spell-checking
  • Word auto-completion
  • Undo/Redo
  • Auto indentation
  • Text wrapping
  • Line numbers
  • Right margin
  • Highlight current line
  • Highlight matching brackets
  • Editing files from remote locations
  • Backup files
  • A flexible plugin system which can be used to dynamically add new advanced features

Beyond that I might look at an Integrated Development Environment more tailored to xml. There is a Comparison of XML editors on wikipedia, but Id be surprised if there were any that were tailored to photographic xml files, so how much advantage you gain is questionable.
Alternatively most Digital Asset Managers and many editors have the ability to edit metadata, and my personal choice here for DAM is Digikam. It can be configured to create and edit sidecar files for images or add tags to the files metadata itself, though sidecars are considered safer as you are not altering the original file.

Digikam help docs - metadata editor Digikam help docs - metadata settings

For me it might be a case of studying the xml structure, creating a template sidecar file in gedit and editing it to suit whilst checking progress in Digikam, or just using Digikam itself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I'm very familiar with editing xml. And there are certainly many text editors that understand xml, but I'm looking for a way to generate standalone xml files that are valid xmp (ie validates against the xmp schema). As far as i can tell, getit doesnt "know" about xmp and can't restrict edits to what is described by the dmp schema. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 11:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @AndyJohnson.You may be aware of Exiv2 and Exiftool, two projects which manipulate image metadata, albeit with differing formatting. Both websites have extensive listings of the xmp tags available. \$\endgroup\$
    – dmkonlinux
    Feb 11 at 17:12

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