Losing Metadata in Transfer


Today’s Question: I have a MacBook Air that I travel with and a MacBook Pro to process photos when I get home to make final adjustments. However, while away I will start to review, delete and process images. I transfer images from Air to Pro on my return by dragging from the laptop hard disk to my personal cloud hard drive. Then I drag a copy back from the personal cloud on to my Pro. My issue is that when I do this, I lose the ratings and a record of the adjustments that I made [in Lightroom Classic CC], so I have to start again. How would you recommend I solve this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In this case you are effectively only bringing your photos to your home computer, leaving many of the metadata updates behind with the Lightroom catalog on your traveling computer. To solve this issue you’ll want to instead merge your traveling catalog into your master catalog whenever you return home.

More Detail: By default Lightroom Classic CC only saves metadata (and other) updates to the catalog. Even if you enable the option in Catalog Settings to automatically write changes to the XMP sidecar files, only standard metadata updates are written to the source images. Lightroom-specific features such as Collections, Pick/Reject flags, Virtual Copies, and more, will not be preserved in this way.

Therefore, when you work with a traveling catalog while away from your master catalog, you’ll want to merge those catalogs upon your return. This involves using the “Import from Another Catalog” command found on the File menu in Lightroom.

For example, upon returning home you could copy your traveling catalog and photos to an external hard drive if they aren’t already on such a drive. You can then connect that drive to the computer with your master catalog, and open that master catalog in Lightroom. Then go to the menu and choose File > Import from Another Catalog. This will enable you to import photos from a different catalog, so that all updates you applied in your traveling catalog while away from home will be preserved upon import into your master catalog.

You can learn more about this process with the lessons in my “Tim’s Real Organizational Workflow” course in the GreyLearning library here: