Metadata Portability and Avoiding Metadata Conflicts in Lightroom and other Apps
What is Metadata?
Photo metadata includes information about camera used as well as user added information like ratings, labels, keywords, descriptions, etc. It can also include editing settings depending on the application.
Sharing Metadata Between Applications
In order to make metadata portable between applications, there are common standards for writing the metadata directly into the photos. Today XMP (extensible metadata platform) is the most common and flexible standard. It is the standard used by Adobe products like Lightroom Classic and Bridge as well as ON1 products like ON1 Photo RAW and ON1 Photo Keyword AI. XMP can be written directly to most photo formats including TIF, JPG, and DNG. For proprietary raw formats, an XMP sidecar file is created instead. This sidecar file can be read and written between applications to exchange the metadata.
However, for this exchange of metadata it is critical that the metadata is written to original photo or sidecar whenever a metadata change occurs. This is enabled by default in most photo applications, but is off by default in new Lightroom Classic catalogs. You will need to check your catalog settings and enable the Automatically write changes to XMP option. Without this option, metadata in Lightroom is not shared with other applications.
Each time a photo application updates the XMP, it records the date and time of the last change. This allows other applications that read the XMP to know if they have the correct, up-to-date metadata or not. Most photo applications detect and resolve changes to XMP metadata automatically. With Adobe Lightroom Classic, this is a manual process. You will need to synchronize the folder the photos are located in.
Or press the up arrow badge that signifies the metadata has changed in another app and select Import Settings from Disk. This will update Lightroom’s database with the latest metadata from the sidecar, created by another application.
Avoiding Metadata Conflicts
Unfortunately this manual process makes it easy to create conflicts in the metadata. If you make changes to a photo in Lightroom, be it keywords, Develop settings, or even something like a flag or rotate, and at the same moment make changes in another application, they can collide. It is important to note, that Lightroom does not write Develop settings changes to disk until you return to the Library module. If a conflict occurs you will see a metadata conflict badge in Lightroom. Lightroom cannot merge conflicting metadata, you must choice either the current Lightroom metadata, or what is in the file or sidecar on disk. This can lead to loss of metadata or Develop settings. You will need to choice what is more important to you.
Best Practices for using ON1 Photo Keyword AI with Adobe Lightroom Classic
Follow these step by step instructions to have the best experience when using ON1 Photo Keyword AI to add keywords to your Lightroom Classic library.
- Confirm you have the Automatically write changes to XMP option enabled in your catalog settings.
- Confirm that all your photos metadata has been written to disk. To do this, create a Smart Collection that searches for photos whose metadata status is not up to date. Select all the found results and then use the Save Metadata to Files command.
- Quit Lightroom Classic
- Open ON1 Photo Keyword AI
- Find the photos you wish to add keywords to. This can be individual photos or entire folder structures. Select what you desire and use the Scan button or the Scan folder option. Alternatively you can create a cataloged folder as well.
- Scanning can take a long time and does use a large amount of CPU power. Set your computer to not sleep and make sure ON1 Photo Keyword AI is the front most selected app. Let it run overnight.
- For most users by morning the scanning process will be complete. The photos XMP metadata will be updated with the keywords found.
- Launch Lightroom Classic and select the same folders you scanned. Right click on the folder and select the Synchronize Folder option. This will read the XMP metadata and update it in Lightroom Classic.