Today’s Question: If I move image files from one folder to another within Lightroom Classic, how can I also move an XMP file associated with that image file to the new location? Or does the moving the image file automatically move the associated XMP file along with it?
Tim’s Quick Answer: If you move a raw capture from one folder to another within Lightroom Classic, the XMP file associated with that raw capture will be moved along with the raw capture.
More Detail: By default, when you update metadata for a photo in Lightroom Classic, the updates are only applied within the catalog, not for the source photos on your hard drive. However, you can save metadata to selected photos manually by going to the menu bar and choosing Metadata > Save Metadata to File. You can also have these updates applied automatically by turning on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog.
Keep in mind that the XMP sidecar file associated with raw captures can only store standard metadata fields along with Develop module adjustments. So, while the XMP file won’t contain all the information about your photos from the Lightroom Classic catalog, it does provide a good backup of the key information about your photos.
If you move a raw capture within Lightroom Classic (or via Adobe Bridge if you’re not a Lightroom Classic user) the XMP sidecar file will be moved along with the source raw capture. In effect, both Lightroom Classic and Adobe Bridge treat a raw and the associated XMP file as a package that always needs to be moved together. Note that for file formats other than proprietary raw captures, the metadata is saved to the image file itself, not an XMP sidecar file.
It is also important to keep in mind that while Lightroom Classic and Bridge will treat a raw capture and the XMP sidecar file as a pair that belong together, the same is not true for other software or the operating system. Therefore, it is important to use Lightroom Classic or Adobe Bridge rather than other software to move or otherwise make changes to photos. And, of course, if you’re using Lightroom Classic you should only use Lightroom Classic to initiate such changes, not Adobe Bridge.