Is is possible to export RAW files (or DNG files) including the flags from Lightroom to an external hard disk? I know how to export the files including all the lightroom manipulations, but cannot find how to include flags/stars etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for all the trips and tricks! I really appreciate it. Perhaps Lightroom should make it easier to export/save the selections. \$\endgroup\$
    – user4113
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 13:31

4 Answers 4


Unfortunately there's currently no 'painless/seamless/automated' way to get all the information out of Lightroom...

You will want to write your metadata out with your files by doing the following in Lightroom:

  • Select Metadata > Save Metadata to File (Or Command/CTRL + S). This will write an XMP file for each image.

On export Lightroom exports RAW files, IPTC metadata, star ratings, and color labels. Any flags you have set in Lightroom WILL NOT be exported. If flags are important to your organization system, then the only thing you can do is add keywords in Lightroom before you generate your sidecar files (Flag, NoFlag perhaps).


I believe the "Export to Catalog" option includes all of the information available about your images, including stars.


Yes, sure.

  • Put all files you want to export into a collection (a folder is also ok).
  • Select the images and use save metadata from the context menu (just to be on the safe side, probably not needed)
  • Then right click on the collection (or select images and use File menu), and select export as catalog
    • check export negative files and export to your external drive.

In Lightroom's Catalog options (I believe, I haven't got LR on this machine to check which menu) you can set meta data to be written to DNG/XMP files. This includes stars/picks/processing etc. I have this ticked all the time, but I believe you can set it on export, in the metadata panel it will tell you when the metadata on that image file was last updated.

I prefer to use DNGs as they keep the metadata embedded in the file, whereas raw formats need to store the metadata in a separate XMP sidecar file, it is quite easy for these to get separated from the raw file.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Picks/flags (specifically asked about) are not exported - only standard XMP metadata. \$\endgroup\$
    – ahockley
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 Sorry, this is simply wrong. Processing steps in Lightroom are not stored in XMP files, or anywhere else exportable for that matter... In fact there is currently no way to export processing data via ANY method in Lightroom, only the results of processing can be exported in any way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jay Lance Photography That is odd, I use this feature (albeit with DNG files) regularly, I do most my editing at home in Lightroom, but sometimes I use Photoshop CS5 on my Dad's Mac, when I do this I just copy the DNG to a USB stick and when I open it on my Dad's Mac it has all of the changes I've applied... \$\endgroup\$
    – LC1983
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course you can open the processed version of your file, but you don't get the processing data (e.g. the steps that it took in Lightroom to get the picture to that point). As I said above, only the results of processing can be exported... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, the display of the processed version (with the data included in the XMP file) becomes sketchy at best when moving to a non-Adobe product. Some products attempt to use the information that Adobe writes into the XMP, but a good many others simply ignore it, or erase it and start from scratch... So the XMP file becomes a whole lot less useful when attempting to migrate to a non-Adobe product as only the standard set of EXIF data points is kept. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 23:41

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