If there is one thing that every photographer using Lightroom should do it’s turn on “Automatically write changes into XMP” in the Catalog Settings.
It’s quick and easy to do and could save you a lot of frustration and hassle later on!
You can find it by clicking the Lightroom file menu and then clicking ‘Catalog Settings’.
Under the ‘Metadata’tab you’ll find the option that you can click on and off.
This option automatically saves any changes you make to a RAW file in Lightroom (basic adjustments, crop, B&W conversion, sharpening etc) into the XMP sidecar files that are saved right next to the original RAW files.
What this means is that if Lightroom ever crashes, or your catalog is corrupted all the work you did should be saved into those xmp side car files.
So all you’ll need to do is reimport those files back into Lightroom and you’ll still have all the adjustments you made.
I’ve heard of a few cases of people losing a whole weddings worth of processing because they didn’t have this option turned on!
It might take an extra second to write to the xmp file (or so I’m told) but I’ve never noticed Lightroom to be any slower with the option turned on, and the XMP sidecar files it creates are tiny and take up virtually no space.
It’s beyond me why this option isn’t turned on by default!?
P.S. Sending someone a RAW file and want them to see the changes you made in LR? Send the RAW file along with the matching XMP sidecar file and when they import the file into their library your changes will already be present.
P.P.S. This is also how many color correction houses work. You send them the RAW files and they send you back the XMP files with the information for the corrected files. You simply add the finished XMP files to your RAW files, import everything into Lightroom and all the changes will show up!