Here's a situation where I would like Lightroom to alter my master photos.

I have some photos that I took on October 30, 2011 with the capture time at around 15:00 hours. The date is correct but the capture time is not. I forgot to adjust the time setting in the camera in regard to the DST (daylight saving time). "Summer time" in all of EU for year 2011 was the period from March 27 to October 30. So on October 30, at 03:00 hours all clocks in Europe were changed back to 02:00. I forgot to change my camera clock in the morning. So as you can tell, the capture time of 15:00 was actually 14:00. This is when "winter time" began, as we like to call it (or standard time).

I know how to adjust this in Lightroom. I simply go to grid view, select the photos, go to Metadata menu, Edit Capture Time, Shift by set number of hours, pick -1 to subtract 1 hour from all photos, click on Change. That's it!

Now, I understand that Lightroom is based on what's called non-destructive-editing. Meaning it does not alter the original files, it rather saves changes and edits associated with a certain file or files in a database. But I would actually like to save these changes permanently. What option do I have? I mean besides exporting them obviously?... is there some setting for this?

In the Metadata panel, I can see that it says "Metadata status has been changed". If I click the Resolve Conflict button next to it I get the following prompt.

"The metadata for this photo has been changed in Lightroom. Save the changes to disk?"

If I click Save it will only create sidecar files (e.g. IMG_4708.xmp) in that same location where the master photos are stored. It will not write the changes to the files.

There are of course other types of metadata information that can be added or changed in Lightroom, not just the capture time. But is there really no way of writing these changes directly to the original files instead of writing to the database or the sidecar files?

I can appreciate the non-destructive principle of Lightroom for edits such as white balance and toning. But is it really necessary even for the metadata information? I wish there was an option that would allow me to decide for myself how I want my own photos to be treated or processed. I want to be able to "destruct" my photos. I don't care if they even explode on the hard drive! I have a backup. I want to do with my photos what I want.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Lets summarize since this question is quite long. You want to change the metadata capture time of an image, overwriting the existing capture time, without using the library, or a sidecar file to store this change. What you didn't note is the file type you are working with. Is it RAW, JPEG, DNG, or PNG? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry about that. It's RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


What depends here is the type of file you are working with. If you simply make the change you suggested in LightRoom then click Ctrl+S or Metadata> Save Metadata to File you will be presented with the following prompt:

enter image description here

So from this message it is pretty easy to tell that RAW files will be saved to sidecar XMP files, and the other formats will be written directly to the originals. I tested this with JPEG's and it worked as prescribed.

If your images are RAW, you could simply export JPEG versions of them and make this destructive edit to the JPEGs. It might defeat the purpose of this exercise, but keep in mind, you are defeating the entire purpose of RAW!

  • \$\begingroup\$ I did some quick tests. What you say is true. Luckily I have both CR2 and JPEG files of these photos. I made a second copy of the folder holding the files. I made a new catalog in LR and imported both formats (Preferences, General, Treat JPEG separately). After import, I placed them in separate collections according to format. I then tried changing the capture time and then saving these changes to the original files using your instruction. It worked for JPEG but not for CR2. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried converting the CR2 to DNG (Library menu, Convert photo to DNG). The capture time was already set right from previously, so I didn't have to make any new changes after converting to DNG. I got some new files. However, the "Date taken" field is blank if you view the DNG files in Windows Explorer. But I opened one up in PS and went to File, File info, IPTC. The new capture date and time was there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I normally don't use the JPEG files. But I have them sitting on the disk anyway. They come in handy sometimes. I primarily use them for reference since Windows Explorer doesn't give me thumbnail previews of RAW files. They are good for mailing too. But why won't Lightroom save metadata changes to CR2 files? I hope it's not to force me to convert to DNG instead? The CR2 is more supported in Windows than DNG. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you go to Catalog Settings, then Metadata, there is this option: Write date or time changes into proprietary raw files. This seems about right. But what does it do? I tried enabling that, created a new catalog and then imported some new CR2 files. I then changed the date captured time and tried the Save Metadata to file option. It still spits out these sidecar files. It doesn't actually write this to the CR2 files. Or does it? Perhaps I am not seeing it in Windows Explorer? Like IPTC vs. EXIF? I'm not sure Windows reads both. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I say I created a new catalog and imported some new CR2 files because LR seems to remember what I have done previously to a file, i.e. if I have edited the metadata of that file, and then it shows this added or changed information after importing the same files all over again, even if I create a completely new catalog. Is this normal? Right now I have a catalog named Experimental 5 with 8 CR2 files in it. Now if I change capture time for these files from say 08:00 to 07:00, create a new catalog named Experimental 6 and import the same files in it, it would say "07:00" as capture time??... how? \$\endgroup\$
    – Samir
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 15:23

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