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This is just a minor annoyance but Lightroom flags thousands of images that were moved as having Metadata Conflict. In fact, none of the image files have changed, other than the directory change. It gives one bad and one terrible choice to resolve:

  • Overwrite original files. This is bad on so many levels. My setup is protected from this as images are mounted on a read-only partition when seen from Lightroom.
  • Import from disk. This causes all metadata added in the Lightroom Catalog for that file to vanish, so the file loses its ratings, labels, keywords, etc.

Is there any way force Lightroom to clear the Metadata Conflict flag?

This issue can be reproduced by importing from a catalog or moving files. In both cases, it says that files were modified outside of Lightroom when clearly this has not happened, so cannot even figure out which metadata it thinks has changed. Any idea or a way to find out which particular metadata is said to be in conflict?

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You can re-link the photos by clicking on the small "!" sign and choosing the new location.

You can also re-link the whole folder by right clicking on it in the Folders menu and choosing "Find missing folder".

  • It does not give me that option, only the two I listed. What version of LR are you using? – Itai Jul 26 '17 at 15:47
  • I have lr 5, but the feature is available even in 3, check this out: adobe help – dannemp Jul 26 '17 at 15:49
  • OK. Sorry but you didn't understand the question. The files were moved but imported into a different catalog in their new location, so there are no missing files, only all of them have a Metadata Conflict Warning. – Itai Jul 26 '17 at 15:59
  • Oh, ok, now you made things clear, in your original post you don't state that the files where imported after the move – dannemp Jul 26 '17 at 17:32
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none of the image files have changed, other than the directory change

The change may have happened months ago, and it is only you moving the files that caused Lightroom to take another look at the files and notice that there is a discrepancy.

Overwrite original files. This is bad on so many levels.

I don't see why. Lightroom is saying that it has new metadata that hasn't yet been written to the file, and the file is saying that it is newer than the last metadata written by Lr to that file, so Lr is offering to update the file's metadata.

What are these "many levels?" The image itself won't change, and the metadata Lightroom knows about was at least correct at one point in the past.

Chances are excellent that taking this option will lose no information at all. I regularly take this option when this option presents itself. The only time I let Lightroom load image metadata from disk is when I know for a fact that it has changed externally, such as because I've run ExifTool directly on the file.

the file loses its ratings, labels, keywords, etc.

Only if you never saved the Lightroom metadata to the file, either explicitly with Cmd/Ctrl-S or by enabling the "Automatically write changes into XMP" catalog setting. Otherwise, loading the metadata from the file will restore ratings, labels, keywords, etc. as of the last XMP update time, which was correct at that time at least.

If you're really worried about losing metadata, install ExifTool and run it individually on each file you need to re-sync with Lightroom, redirecting the output to a file:

$ exiftool /path/to/my/photo.jpg > a

Say Cmd/Ctrl-S on that file, then re-run the command above, changing the output file, and diff the two:

$ exiftool /path/to/my/photo.jpg > b
$ diff a b | less

That will tell you what Lightroom changed. My guess is that nothing substantial will have changed; maybe a last-changed date. If something substantial does change, it's easy to fix it in Lightroom, given the diff output.

If you didn't have the "Automatically write changes into XMP" setting enabled, do so. Yes, it slows Lightroom down considerably, but it greatly reduces the chance that you will have this sort of two-way conflict.

This obviously works best on macOS, but you can get the same tools on Windows via either Cygwin or WSL.

The files were moved but imported into a different catalog in their new location

That's a workflow bug. You can entirely avoid the problem by doing the move entirely within Lightroom, so it never loses track of information.

Specifically in this case:

  1. Select the files you want to move to the other catalog

  2. Say "File → Export as Catalog...", selecting the "Export negative files" option, saving the new catalog in the location you want the photos to land.

  3. Switch Lightroom catalogs, then say "File → Import from Another Catalog...", selecting the exported catalog file.

That safely copies the photos to the new location, lets you bring the latest up-to-date metadata over via the temporary catalog file, and then lets you put off deleting the photos from the original location only after you've seen that everything is okay.

  • There couldn't be changes. I make sure of that by mounting the drive as read-only, so that LR cannot ever change any file or even add stuff to the source directories, so no XMP is possible either. This time I moved files from an external drive to an internal drive and when relocating the files in LR, it put up all the warnings. Changing originals on disk, even if it only supposedly the metadata, is wrong. File dates change, the metadata will have the software name and they won't even look like files that camera from a digital camera anymore. On top of the risk of a change being harmful. – Itai Jul 26 '17 at 19:42
  • @Re "no changes", at least the dates change when you move files on disk outside of Lightroom. That may be all it's complaining about. – Warren Young Jul 26 '17 at 19:44
  • @Re: changing originals being "wrong," maybe you shouldn't be using Lightroom, since you clearly don't trust it with your data. Lightroom is inherently not a catalog-only program: it does depend on being able to store metadata in the file, so that "Edit in Photoshop" and the like work properly. There are probably other photo management apps that purposely keep all metadata in their own catalog only. That would annoy me, but it sounds like that's what you want. – Warren Young Jul 26 '17 at 19:46
  • Specifically, I am worried about changing my files, not just the metadata. I have a workflow that has been working very well so far, although it might not be perfect, it fits very will with how I do backups and other tasks. This time I did do something different and that was travelling with a laptop, so I moved the files from the external drive to the internal drive after doing a Export As Catalog and then Import From Catalog. Essentially I almost did what you describe in the 3 last steps, except for not exporting the negatives. Maybe that would have avoided the problem. – Itai Jul 26 '17 at 19:47
  • OK. Is there anyway to know what LR is complaining about? I could try to have a script run over everything and set the date properly if that is what happened. – Itai Jul 26 '17 at 19:49
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It is not possible at this time. I consulted with a writer of Lightroom plugins and he confirmed me that it is not possible and he just ignores the warnings as he too agrees that files from the camera should be kept unmodified in there pristine straight-of-camera condition.

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