Develop Settings in XMP Sidecar File


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.

Confusion Opening Catalog


Today’s Question: I have a problem with my catalog [in Lightroom Classic]. When I open Lightroom Classic it comes up with a previous version of the catalog. I can open Lightroom Classic correctly by using a backup [of the catalog]. After closing down and reopening it the same past version opens again. How do I establish the backup as current or the version I want to use?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This indicates you have the wrong catalog set as the default catalog, so you just need to correct that setting in the Preferences dialog.

More Detail: By default, when you launch Lightroom Classic it will open with the most recently used catalog. While this makes sense, it can actually be problematic if you had opened a different catalog for some reason and don’t realize that this other catalog would be opened by default the next time you launched Lightroom Classic. In this type of situation you might start working in the wrong catalog without realizing that it isn’t your primary catalog.

Because of this risk of confusion, I highly recommend setting your primary catalog as the default catalog in the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic. First, you’ll want to launch the correct catalog. I don’t recommend opening a backup copy of the catalog unless the primary catalog has been lost or corrupted. If you recently updated to Lightroom Classic 12, for example, you may have an older version 11 catalog in the same folder as the newer version 12 catalog, and you would want to open the latest version of your primary catalog.

You can then open the Preferences dialog by choosing Edit > Preferences from the menu on Windows, or Lightroom Classic > Settings (or Preferences) on Macintosh. Within the Preferences dialog start by going to the General tab. In the Default Catalog section click the popup and choose your primary catalog from the popup. You can then close the Preferences dialog.

From that point forward, when you simply launch Lightroom Classic it will always open with the catalog you’ve established in the Preferences dialog.

Double Synchronization Confusion


Today’s Question: I’m having a problem with synchronized photographs. I have Lightroom Classic on both an iMac and a MacBook Air. When I enabled synchronization on the MacBook Air it seemed to take over and I lost the ability to switch on and off synchronization for collections on the iMac. I now have 3169 photos in All Synced Photographs on the iMac and 892 in All Synced Photographs on the MacBook Air. I turned off the synchronization checkboxes for all collections, so there should be nothing syncing. Why are there photos in the All Synced Photographs collection when nothing is synced?

Tim’s Quick Answer: There are two issues here. First, you can only have synchronization enabled for a single Lightroom Classic catalog at any time. Second, once photos are synchronized to the Creative Cloud, they are not removed unless you specifically remove them.

More Detail: With Lightroom Classic you can only have synchronization enabled for a single catalog. If you enable synchronization for a second catalog, synchronization will be disabled for the first catalog. So, you’ll need to choose which catalog you want to enable synchronization for, such as your primary catalog rather than a traveling catalog, and ensure you have synchronization enabled for the correct catalog.

The second issue is that once you synchronize photos, they are never removed from cloud-based storage unless you specifically remove them. Simply disabling synchronization for a collection, for example, will not cause the photos in that collection to stop being stored in the Creative Cloud.

Therefore, if you no longer want certain photos stored in the Creative Cloud, you’ll need to remove them. In Lightroom Classic that means removing the photos from the All Synced Photographs collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Within that collection you can simply select the photos you don’t want stored in the cloud, then right-click and choose “Remove from All Synced Photographs” from the popup menu.

Keep in mind that photos can also be synchronized to the Creative Cloud via the Lightroom mobile app on a mobile device, for example. So be sure to only remove photos from the All Synced Photographs collection that you know are already represented in your normal workflow.

Note that if you have synchronized photos from Lightroom Classic to the cloud, you can review or update those synchronized photos using the Lightroom ecosystem. That includes being able to use the Lightroom application on another computer, the Lightroom app on a mobile device, or Lightroom in a web browser (

When to Use Smart Objects


Today’s Question: I am curious if you have any preferences for opening up into Photoshop from Lightroom Classic as “edit in” versus “edit as smart object”, especially now with all the filters available, including neural filters, blur, etc.

Tim’s Quick Answer: For a “normal” image-optimization workflow that might include additional image layers, I prefer not to open the image as a smart object. For more creative workflow involving filters, you may want to make use of the smart object option.

More Detail: When you send an image from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop, you have the option to open the image as a smart object. To use this option instead of choosing “Edit in Adobe Photoshop from the Photo > Edit In > Edit In menu you would choose “Open as Smart Object in Photoshop” from that menu.

When you open an image as a smart object in Photoshop the original image is embedded into the derivative file that is created. This provides some great workflow flexibility, but it can also lead to some problems.

In the context of a raw capture opened as a smart object in Photoshop, because the raw capture is embedded rather than having been opened as a normal pixel layer, you can double-click on the smart object layer to bring up the Camera Raw interface. This enables you to refine the adjustment settings you had applied in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic.

While this capability can be helpful, it can also be problematic with a layer-based workflow. For example, let’s assume you processed the image in color in Lightroom Classic and opened it as a smart object in Photoshop. You add a new image layer to perform some image cleanup work to remove some blemishes. Then you double-click on the smart object layer and in Camera Raw convert the image to black and white. The image cleanup work will still be in color, which would be a problem.

This is just one illustrative example of the type of problems you can get into when you combine a smart object with image layers in Photoshop.

Of course, there are situations where using a smart object can be tremendously helpful. For example, if you’re using creative filters there’s a good chance you might want to later review or revise the settings you used for the filter. Using a smart object provides that flexibility, because just as you can open Camera Raw to edit the adjustment settings for a smart object, so too can you apply filters to a smart object and then return to the filter settings to revise them.

The key is to make sure image layers won’t interfere with the use of a smart object. Therefore, I recommend only using smart objects when you won’t need to use additional image layers, and when the use of a smart object will provide advantages in your workflow. This can often mean, for example, having one layered copy of the image for the normal optimization workflow, and then creating an additional derivative based on that layered original that employs a smart object for creative effects.

Additional File Formats for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: As a follow-up to your answer about not using Save As in Photoshop after sending a photo from Lightroom Classic, what if you want to save the image in a file format other than TIFF or PSD, such as a JPEG?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you wanted to send a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop and then create a JPEG copy, I recommend using the Export feature in Lightroom Classic. You can even add that JPEG back to the Lightroom Classic catalog as part of that feature if you’d like.

More Detail: Today’s question is a follow-up from yesterday on the subject of sending a photo from Lightroom Classic to Photoshop for editing. When sending a raw capture to Photoshop in this way, the only options are to generate a TIFF file or a Photoshop PSD file, based on the setting you’ve established on the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic.

As noted in yesterday’s answer, with this workflow you should always use the File > Save command, not Save As, before closing the file, in order to ensure the image is correctly added to your Lightroom Classic catalog. This prevents you from reliably creating a JPEG copy of the image as part of this workflow as far as having that JPEG included in the catalog automatically.

Instead, I recommend creating a JPEG copy using the Export command. You can select the image you want to export (such as the TIFF or PSD from Photoshop in this example) and then click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module.

In the Export dialog you can specify that you want the new image to be added to the Lightroom Classic catalog by turning on the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox in the Export Location section of the dialog. You can also choose “Same folder as original photo” from the Export To popup if you want the JPEG copy to be saved in the same folder as the source image you’re exporting a copy of.

You can then otherwise configure the desired settings for the export within the Export dialog and click the Export button to complete the operation. As long as you had the “Add to This Catalog” checkbox turned on, the photo will be added to the Lightroom Classic catalog referenced in the folder location you specified in the Export Location section of the Export dialog.

Photos from Photoshop are Missing


Today’s Question: I have a new problem where Photoshop is not saving photos to Lightroom Classic. I’m saving as TIFF, and the saved Photoshop images are appearing on the external hard drive but not in Lightroom Classic.

Tim’s Quick Answer: This appears to be the common situation where the “Save As” command is being used in Photoshop for photos sent from Lightroom Classic. When you’re finished working with an image in Photoshop with this workflow, simply choose File > Save (not Save As) from the menu followed by File > Close.

More Detail: In my experience if you use the “Save As” command to save a copy of an image in Photoshop that was sent directly from Lightroom Classic, most of the time that copy will not appear in your Lightroom Classic catalog.

In effect, when you use the Photo > Edit In command from Lightroom Classic to send a photo to Photoshop, Lightroom Classic has already told Photoshop where to save the file, what filename to use, and what file format (TIFF or PSD) to save the image in. If you interfere by using the “Save As” command, the image you save will generally not make it to the Lightroom Classic catalog.

If you were using the Save As command because you wanted to change certain settings, such as to save as a TIFF rather than a PSD file, those settings can be changed in the Preferences dialog. On the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog adjust the settings in the “Edit in Adobe Photoshop” dialog. Those options include the file format to be used (TIFF or PSD), the color space, bit depth, and resolution. If you’ve selected TIFF as the file format you will also have an option for selecting a compression setting.

Just be sure that when you’re finished working with the image in Photoshop that you only use the Save command, not the Save As command. Any other changes beyond that, such as renaming the image or moving it to a different folder, should be done within Lightroom Classic, not while you’re working in Photoshop.

Revealing Cropped Pixels


Today’s Question: You said that a non-destructive crop in Photoshop causes the cropped pixels to just be hidden from view. But how do you get those pixels back if you change your mind about the crop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To reveal pixels that extend beyond the current image canvas area in Photoshop you can simply choose Image > Reveal All from the menu.

More Detail: As noted in yesterday’s answer, in Photoshop it is possible to crop non-destructively, which essentially means hiding cropped pixels from view rather than deleting them altogether.

There are other reasons that pixels may extend beyond the image canvas area as well. For example, when working on a composite image you might drag one of the layers into a position that extends beyond the canvas area.

If you later want to reveal the pixels that extend beyond the edge of the canvas, you can simply extend the canvas. One option for this is the Reveal All command found on the Image menu. This will cause the canvas to be expanded to the outer bounds of all pixels that are currently outside the canvas area.

You can also exercise control over the specific extent to which the canvas is extended, rather than simply expanding it to reveal all pixels. You could use the Crop tool, for example, and drag the crop box outward to the extent desired on any or all sides of the image.

You could also use the Canvas Size command, also found on the Image menu, to expand the canvas in one or more directions to a specific extent. Within the Canvas Size dialog you can specify the amount you want to extend the canvas horizontally and vertically, and designate an anchor position to determine in which directions the canvas will be expanded.

Background Layer Confusion


Today’s Question: I’ve just noticed that all my layered TIFF files have a Layer 0 instead of a Background layer [in Photoshop]. I have no idea how or why this is happening. Is there some automated way to change all these TIFF files? Why is this happening?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This simply indicates that the Background image layer had been converted to a “normal” layer. I recommend leaving that layer as it is, without converting it back to a Background layer.

More Detail: When you convert the Background image layer to a normal layer the default name for the layer is “Layer 0”. You can, of course, rename the layer, and you could also convert the layer back to a Background layer. However, I don’t generally recommend making that conversion.

Since in this case the Background layer wasn’t intentionally converted to a normal layer, my guess is that a crop was applied with the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on the Options bar turned off. This applies a non-destructive crop, meaning that instead of deleting the pixels outside the crop box those pixels are just hidden from view.

In order to hide rather than delete the cropped pixels, the Background layer needs to be converted to a normal layer, because a Background layer can’t extend beyond the image canvas area. There are, of course, other ways to convert a Background layer to a normal layer, but a non-destructive crop is the most likely cause in this case.

If you were to convert the “Layer 0” image layer to a Background image layer, you would be permanently removing the cropped pixels. If you want to do that, you can simply select Layer 0 on the Layers panel and then from the menu choose Layer > New > Background from Layer. This will convert the layer to a Background image layer, which locks the layer in several ways. Of course, as noted above, it also would cause the cropped pixels to be permanently deleted.

If you did decide you wanted to convert all these images for any reason, you could use an action to record the steps on one of the images and then apply that action in batch to the other images. However, in my view there’s no reason to convert the layers for these images, and good arguments to leave them as they are.

Pixology Magazine January 2023


The January 2023 issue of Pixology magazine is now available, featuring the following articles:

  • Resolutions for Organization: Get ideas for some New Years resolutions that will help you keep your photos more organized.
  • Choosing a Monitor: Learn about the key specifications to consider when choosing a new monitor display for your digital darkroom.
  • Counting Subjects in Photos: Discover a “hidden” tool in Photoshop that makes it easy to count the number of subjects in a photo.
  • The Quick Collection: Gain insights into a simple yet powerful feature in Lightroom Classic for grouping photos together.
  • Photo Story: Winter on the Merced: Read the story behind a photo captured during a winter workshop experience in Yosemite Valley.

Pixology magazine is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle, and is also available as a standalone subscription here:

Workflow on the Go


Today’s Question: Here’s a situation that happens with me occasionally: I have a large batch of photos from some event. I download them and start the culling/processing. Then I need to go out of town, so I export the folder to a drive and take it with me where I can continue the work from the portable drive. When I get back to my home computer, I have to re-import this catalog, which has my latest edits. Then I end up deleting the original folder (which is now old). I’m guessing there’s a better way. Suggestions? I know there’s a way to remotely edit using smart previews, but I prefer to work on the raw files.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I would recommend either taking the original catalog with you or, even better, synchronizing the photos to the cloud and doing the additional work either in a web browser or using the Lightroom mobile app.

More Detail: I think this type of scenario is a very good example of a situation where synchronizing photos from Lightroom Classic to the cloud is a great solution. All you need to do is add the photos to a new collection and enable synchronization for that collection.

When you’ve synchronized photos in this way, you can then access those images through the Lightroom cloud-based ecosystem. That includes being able to see the photos as an album in a web browser by visiting the Lightroom site ( or in the Lightroom app on a mobile device.

The feature set when working with Lightroom in the cloud is not as feature-rich as using Lightroom Classic, but I think it is more than adequate for a typical image-review workflow. You can, for example, assign star ratings and pick or reject flags, add keywords, apply adjustments, and more.

If you didn’t want to use cloud-based synchronization for some reason, I recommend either keeping your catalog on an external hard drive permanently, or at least doing so temporarily. What I don’t like about this approach is the risk that you might get confused about which copy of the catalog is the “real” updated version, and accidentally revert to an older version of the catalog. Still, I think this is better in general than having to export and then re-import photos.

To move the catalog to a different location you first want to make sure Lightroom Classic isn’t running. Then copy the folder containing the catalog and all related files to an external hard drive you’ll have with you when traveling. Open the catalog directly from that external hard drive while traveling, and you’ll have access to all the organizational features even if you don’t have the source image files with you. If you want to work in the Develop module you can simply generate Smart Previews for the photos in question before transferring the catalog to an external hard drive.