Today’s Question: I have Lightroom Classic setup so that it stores all the Develop information in the “sidecar” (XMP) files. That being the case, in the event the catalog was damaged or lost, would these XMP files provide the necessary information to recreate the edited images? I realize that other Lightroom-specific information such as collections wouldn’t be available, but all the Develop adjustments would be there, correct?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Correct, if you enable the option to save metadata to the source image files in Lightroom Classic, that will include the adjustments from the Develop module. If you later imported the images into a new catalog, the previously applied adjustments would automatically be reflected in that catalog.
More Detail: If you turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic, metadata updates that are part of an established metadata standard such as star ratings and keywords will be saved to the original image file, which in the context of a proprietary raw capture means the information is saved in an XMP “sidecar” file. That metadata will include the settings for the adjustments you applied in the Develop module.
If you also want Develop settings to be saved to other supported image formats, you can turn on the checkbox labeled “Include Develop settings in metadata inside JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and PSD files”.
With these options enabled, Develop settings will be included in the metadata saved out to the image files, in addition to being saved within the Lightroom Classic catalog. In the future, if for any reason you need to create a new catalog in Lightroom Classic you could simply import all of your existing images and the Develop settings along with standard metadata fields will be included automatically for the images in that new catalog.