• I am using Lightroom (newest edition, subscription) for two years, and for the first year, I did not understand enough of the settings, so I imported over time about 80000 photos with different settings - none of them really what I want now, and some of these settings cannot be undone.
  • From these photos, about 2000 have been extensively processed and exported/published.
  • I have the 'Save processing in XMP files' activated.

What I want to achieve:
I would like to start from scratch, importing all pictures into a new catalog, with the 'right' import settings (I know what I want there now). However, I do not want to lose the 2000 processed pictures' history and processing details.

Possible Approaches:

  1. Remove all XMP files except the 2000, create new catalog, import all photos again. That should conserve the settings on the 2000, and allow me to import the rest with my new import settings. However, it might not, and it is a huge effort to manually handle the 2000.
  2. Create a new catalog from scratch (lose all history, but keep the old catalog). I can then - for each photo - change between the catalogs see what history there was. Painful, forever.
  3. Write a program that handles the XMP files: read, adjust the content to the desired new import settings, write back (skipping the 2000 photos, probably recognizable by size of the XMP). Coding effort, and unsure if it would even work.

I am looking for other approaches, tools, or maybe even functionality in LR that I don't know about yet, to achieve what I want - one catalog with 80000(-2000) photos with my desired import settings, and 2000 with the history as is.


1 Answer 1


If you have identified the 2000 images that you want to keep intact among your 80 000, the following steps will do the trick:

  1. Create a new catalog (if you want/need to);
  2. Import the 78 000 images in LR;
  3. In LR, select all those images, right-click and then "Develop Settings" > "Reset". Now you have erased all the unwanted changes to those images. The XMP files should be adjusted accordingly;
  4. Import the 2000 images, their associated XMP sidecar files will bring the changes you want to keep.
  • \$\begingroup\$ sounds great, but will "Develop Settings > Reset" also reset development steps that are not listed in the history (because they were applied during import)? I should be able to identify the 2000 by the sidecar file size. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Mar 3, 2017 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Import presets are the same thing as editing changes, they are stored in the XMP files. LR is just being fancy naming them specifically by their names in the history. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Mar 3, 2017 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll try that on the weekend. Sounds very promising, thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Mar 3, 2017 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried with a small number of shots, everything works except under 4. - the editing changes come back (all changes are applied), but they are not showing under 'History'. I couldn't find any way to get them back listed in History once the photo is removed from LR and added back. Maybe LR does that because the XMP does not conserve the sequence. If necessary, I can live with that, because I can read out all applied settings at the sliders on the right, it would just be nicer if 'History' would list them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aganju
    Mar 3, 2017 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't inderstood that you were looking to keep that. You can probably use your old catalog and just reset your 78000 image in it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Mar 3, 2017 at 20:16

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