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How do I save Lightroom image edits in source file?

Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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My experience with the trial version of lightroom is very positive in terms of the convenient and powerful capabilities for editing images and the associated metadata.  But I can't find a way to save the "develop" edits to images into the source file for the photo I am working with.  So far, I am able to save the metadata into the file but not the image editing.  From what I read, I fear this is not possible without silly round about exporting to new files then copying / moving multiple copies around, etc. Without this ability, I am pretty sure I will not purchase lightroom and will miss out on all the powerful features.  Without an OPTION that turns on the equivalent of a SAVE button, managing my photos collection would be a nightmare. 

So my question is: How do I save the edited (i.e., developed) version of a photo back into the same file where the original photo was stored?

Please, please spare me all the reponses telling me how stupid I am for wanting to do this and that the cognisenti and professionals would NEVER do this.    But please just tell me there is a secret place to turn on this option in lightroom.

Thanks in advance.

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

People's Champ , Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012
Papa Ben,LR stores everything you do in its catalog. The word "catalog" in LR--speak denotes not your images but the data base where LR stores everything. This data base (the catalog) is a file with the ending < .lrcat> and you can see where it is located by going to >Edit >Catalog Settings >General tab.This storing or saving to the catalog is happening constantly and automatically and you do not have to hit a <save> button.Stored or saved in the catalog are your edits and everything regarding i...

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben,

LR stores everything you do in its catalog. The word "catalog" in LR--speak denotes not your images but the data base where LR stores everything. This data base (the catalog) is a file with the ending < .lrcat> and you can see where it is located by going to >Edit >Catalog Settings >General tab.

This storing or saving to the catalog is happening constantly and automatically and you do not have to hit a <save> button.

Stored or saved in the catalog are your edits and everything regarding image management (including location of your image files), captions, keywords, etc.

For this reason it is all-important that you preserve and protect your LR catalog just as you have to preserve and protect your image files. That means you (a) should know the location of the catalog and (b) you should do back-ups regularly. Without the catalog you would still have your image files but your edits and all what you did in LR would be lost.

LR does not write into the original image file. But there is the possibility to save edits in a xmp-file which is a small file that (normally) sits besides the image file. You do this saving to xmp-file either in the Library Module by going >Metadata > Save Metadata to file (or shortcut Ctrl./Cmd. + letter "S"), or in the Develop Module by going  >Photo >Save Metadata to file - or again Ctr. + S.

With DNGs it's a bit different; with DNGs Lr writes the edits into the header of the file. But the procedure is the same.

Saving to XMP (or into the header of a DNG) is not necessary because LR saves everything in its catalog - automatically. Saving to XMP (or into the DNG-header) has the effect that the edits you do in LR are now visible in any other Adobe program that can read XMP-files (or DNG files) - for instance Adobe Bridge. But for LR it is not necessary.

And there is one caveat: While LR saves everything in the catalog, not all the things you do in LR are written into XMP é DNG. So only the LR catalog saves everything you did in LR.

To answer your question: You do not have to save the edited version of a photo back into the original file. LR saves your edits in the catalog automatically and will display your edits because it reads the original image file and then applies the edits to it for display.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Thanks to Web-weaver for the thoughtful information about LR's catalog database.   That is all very impressive and fine, but my question is whether there is an option to save the edited image back into the file where the original came from.   I realize I don't HAVE to do this and I don't think anyone shoule HAVE to do it, but, in most cases that is what I WANT to do after editing (developing?) my photos.   Is there an OPTION of some sort in LR that makes it possible for me to save my images in place?

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 26, 2021 Jan 26, 2021

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What is going on here is called "technology entanglement".  It is designed to make you use maximum cloud space, and to have you spend massive amounts administrating rather than shooting a good photo, lol.  If they can make it not possible to use anything but their products, you are assured of being their victi...I mean customer forever.  I really don't want my computer/catalogue to be filled with crap photos I consider "finished' work. 

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Guru ,
Jan 26, 2021 Jan 26, 2021

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Marianwhit:

  • you don't have to use any cloud space at all.
  • I nowadays spend far less "administration" time and attention, plus it costs me less, and uses much less storage, and my head needs to retain less technical trivia, than when I used to bring images into PS through ACR and save edited images back out.
  • We're given a more fluid and visual workflow in LR, by comparison, much less bound by technicalities (such as sequence of operations, file management, output specificity). The experience is IMO absolutely more about the good photo, and less about complicated techniques.
  • Every system inclines you towards continuing to use that same system, because you are not only already invested in terms of cost and data, but also in terms of familiarity and learning curve.
  • Lightroom does have an "off ramp", since its edits are 100% portable into ACR, where you can then use an utterly different workflow if you prefer, without changing the picture. Yes that's still within the Adobe world, but remember, the various competitors' edit metadata are equally proprietary to each.
  • With a Catalog, the very point is that once added, images will remain present continuously as library members until actively removed. If that's not the working idea you want - if you want to organise images more as files, taking them out to work on them and then putting them away again, then you will be better served by a different product which offers a more file-centric, work session approach.
  • The nondestructive methods of LR mean that my computer is far less filled up with "finished" work: mostly all I store is the out-of-camera file and a few selected JPG exports.
  • If photos are truly 'crap' / no longer wanted within your live working setup, you have the means to manage that. But it would be a very strange "library" that threw away any books that hadn't been read for a while. So IMO your comments indicate, the whole Catalog approach is simply a poor fit for your own preferences and circumstances.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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You did not specify what file type you are working with. From what I know, or think I know, You can only save this data imbedded in the file only if the file-type is .DNG. If you are editing a .jpg or raw file, you will get a sidecar xmp file with the develope edits. I don't know if there is any such software that can do what you are hoping to do. Perhaps propriatary software from Canon, Nikon, etc. can embed into their own raw file, but such software generally has such limited functionality. This is the main reason Adobe created the "open source" .DNG file type in the first place. "open source" in this case is a misnomer as Adobe has a pattent on the file type. .DNG really needs to be unlocked from the clenches of Adobe for it to insure success, if it even can.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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To show you what an amateur I am, I use jpeg files for my photos.   Previously I have used Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Picasa, Picture It, Paint Shop Pro and a number of other products that have a "SAVE" button that allows me (after suitable warning pop ups) to save my edited image -- horror of horrors -- right in the same file where the original source image was before.  I find the metadata and image editing (developing in LR lingo?) feature of LR superior to these others for my needs, but LR apparently will not allow me to do what all those other packages allow me to do, that is, store my edited image in the same file where the original unedited image was to begin with. If I can't find an OPTION for doing this, I'm afraid that's a showstopper for me.  Pleas understand  I'm not suggesting that LR force users to do this, only that they provide an OPTION which allows users to do it if they choose to turn on that option.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Again, my take would be to keep the original file untouched and save a duplicate images in the same folder (Image01_v2.jpg) I believe once you make all the edits you would export the image to the same direstory as the original. At this point you would have two images, Image01.jpg and Image01_v2.jpg. You need to keep in mind that LR is a non-destructive editing process. This keeps the original image unedited,but can apply these changes when desired, preferable to a separate file.

With standard editing software you may make all the adjustments to the original and save the same file. But down the line, if your monitor was giving you a poor representation of the image, the edited file will need to be tweaked again....reducing its quality with each new edit.

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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You wrote: "...  store my edited image in the same file where the original unedited image was to begin with."

Why is that so important for you - I'm not being sarcastic or anything, I just don't see the importance of it.

Also: If the image files are JPGs it is not a good idea to save / store edits in the original image file.

JPG uses a "lossy" compression; that means that by compressing the image file to a smaller size on disk, JPG throws away image information that is lost forever.

By subsequest savings more image data is being thrown away to the effect that image quality degrades with each saving of the original file.

You save your JPG the first time when you bring it from camera (or card reader) to your hard drive. Then you edit it and save again. Then you don't like the first edits. edit it again and save again.

This is not a good procedure for JPGs. If your camera creates JPGs you'd be much better off with LR that saves edits in the catalog and does not touch your JPG so that it is saved only once - when you bring it into the computer.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Web-weaver and asd23e,.   You are very kind to try to save me from myself, but I do understand about lossiness in jpegs, lossy compression, wavelet compression and all that ... and I appreciate your trying to let me know what's good for me.  But, unwise as it may be in your mind, it is important for me to be able to operate in the fashion I describe.    I want to know if the approach I am asking for is possible at all in LR -- not whether it is right or wrong.

As to the catalog, it would be great if the catalog would save each previous version of my image so I could back out of edits if I want to.   That would be fine as a way to save me from myself,  but I want the edited version of the image on disk in the original file -- not in a database or sidecar file of some sort.  Is that possible using LR -- without exporting to a different file then playing an error prone shell game with the multiple files to get back to where I want the file to be?

--papaben

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Mentor ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

But, unwise as it may be in your mind, it is important for me to be able to operate in the fashion I describe.

LR will likely never allow you to overwrite your originals.  That's contrary to the entire non-destructive philosophy of the way LR works.  This is a good thing.  Anyone wanting to cut up or paint on their film negatives would be well advised to reconsider their entire operational strategy.  I suggest the same for you.

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People's Champ ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben,

I respect what you are saying. But let me tell you that Lightroom forced all (or most)  of us to rethink our workflow and change it. We had workflows that were based on programs that are different from LR (mine was based on Adobe Bridge) and we had to adjust to working the way LR wants us to work. Why? Because LR is a formidable and fine program that is appreciated by many professionals  who do not want to miss out on the feature that LR offers. So we changed our workflow. And looking back - it was for the better.

I have read posts by some beginners in LR who say I don't like this or that, and if that's not possible, I'm not using LR. That is absolutely fine. If you think LR is not for you. Fine.

But you miss out on a very capable and professional program.

WW

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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WW, Your comments on changing one's workflow summarize my dilemma better than I could myself.  Thanks again.

-- papaben

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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I'm not trying to sell you LR. But the answer is actually No, and Yes.

No, you can not overwrite(save) the original file with the edits you made in LR.

Yes, you can include the edits to a duplicate file, and if you choose, delete the original. This (Export) process in LR would be the equivalent of saving and replacing the original file as a new edited file in most other software...PSP, ACDSee, Picassa.....

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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It seems to me that the last thing you would want to do would be to save all your changes to your original master file. Suppose in the future that you decide you want to take a different approach, create a black-and-white, or a split tone image, or maybe you decide you want to take a completely different approach. If you have saved all of your edits to your master file then you don't have that master file to go back to as an original. I don't know if you have considered using virtual copies, but that is a good approach. And when you have adjustments made to the master file that you like you can export a copy of that image that contains all of those changes, but you still have the master file in its original state (or at least that can be restored to its original state). Someone suggested reevaluating your workflow. If you are unwilling to do that, then perhaps Lightroom is not the best choice for you. As we try to help you understand the benefits of NOT saving to your master file, you are relating that to your current workflow and it doesn't make sense. In that same vein, what you want to do doesn't make sense to most of us. Fortunately, there is not really any one "right" way to do things. But I certainly would not want to try to make Lightroom do what you are asking for.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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JimHess, Believe me I do understand how the workflow you use works for your purposes and I certainly hope no one interpreted my question to imply that anyone elses workflow was wrong or that they should use my workflow.  I would not dream of suggesting that.  I completely agree with your statement that there is no single right way to do things.   I was just asking if there was an OPTION that I could turn on for ME to use.  Since every other photo editing software package I am aware of (including those from Adobe) has that option, I must not be the only one who finds it useful.  Even modest little Picasa finds a way to keep a copy of the original in a subdirectory but lets me save to the original file.  In fact, from the strident reaction in this forum, it appears to me that it's the Lightroom developers and their disciples who are insisting there is only one right path to image-editing salvation -- or it's the highway for the rest of us.

As I said at the beginning I am really torn between the power and convenience of the image and metadata editing capabilities of Lightroom and the lack of an OPTION OPTION OPTION for me to save my edited files in the way that suits me.   There is no real justifiable reason to force people into your mode of operation in order to make use of the rest of the wonderful features of the package.  They are completely separable components.   But you are right, given the realities of the situation,  I have to decide whether on balance it's worth it to me to pay for terrific photo editing software that, for no good reason, forces me to change my way of dealing with my photo collection.   I sure wish did not have to make that decision.

--papaben

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Hi ASD23E,  In fact I already AM SOLD on the image and metadata editing components of Lightroom.  They are terrific.   And I did spend a day experimenting with variations of your suggestion for exporting to an edited file -- either with a changed name or in a subfolder.   But, one has to be very careful with that approach.  Depending on the exact flow one uses for exporting, it involves several extra steps, multiple copies of files that one has to keep track of and a set of "develop" deltas stored in the database.   I found it very easy to lose track of what was where and, in one case early on, ended up with cropping being applied twice to an image.    

The Picasa approach works OK for me.  When I do an overwrite/save, they make a copy the original in a subdirectory for me. That way, it's tucked out of the way of my main work area where I know I can find what I consider the final versions of files.   And of course, there are many cases where I actually want to save both the edited and unedited copies of files and the typical "save as" function works well in that case.   So these are fine alternatives that I've used.   The nice thing is that these other programs provide OPTIONS rather than insisting on THE ONE TRUE WORKFLOW for anyone who wants to take advantage of the excellent image and metadata editing features of Lightroom.

Many thanks for the suggestions.   I'll experiment with alternative ways of getting around this intentional limitation in the software.  I think I've got a couple more weeks on my trial period. 

-- papaben

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Mentor ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

Many thanks for the suggestions.   I'll experiment with alternative ways of getting around this intentional limitation in the software.  I think I've got a couple more weeks on my trial period. 

-- papaben

The best way, in my view, is to not save finished images at all.  If you need to export them to a final destination like a printer, a file for printing at a service, a file for putting up on the web, or whatever, export it to that destination and then get rid of it.  In some cases, you don't even need the intermediate file, such as when printing locally.

There are special cases where it's necessary to keep a finished, rendered file, but it doesn't sound to me like you're at that point, nor anywhere close to it.  If you are, just put it in a subfolder of the orignal like "prints" or "finished", or whatever.

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Explorer ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Thanks for the suggestion, Lee.   But I've had too much experience with databases to trust them with all that hard work.  That's not even a remote possibility.  I'm curious if the developers of Lightroom save only the original copy of their source code on disk and then keep all their work perfecting it as deltas in a database.   Not a chance.   The latest version is always available to work with and earlier versions are available if one has to back off changes.   You don't keep only the original version of a document or a powerpoint presentation on disk and all your valuable editing of the documents and presentations in a database.  It's nice to be able to back off to previous versions, and I would appreciate that ability (as in Picasa or Google Docs), but I want the latest version stored on disk.   I appreciate the fact that you have such faith in databases and I salute you for working that way, but I would not even consider it for myself.

-- papaben

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LEGEND ,
Feb 18, 2012 Feb 18, 2012

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Papa Ben wrote:

But I've had too much experience with databases to trust them with all that hard work.  That's not even a remote possibility.

Which is why you can set your catalog preferences to verify and optimize and backup each time you quit Lightroom. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with using a database to store your image edits...as long as you have them all backed up–which is easy to do with LR. Under the Lightroom menu, select Catalog Preferences...and in the General select the option that makes you feel better. I have it set to daily but if I haven't done a lot of work when I quit, I dismiss the back up via ad dialog.

You really need to get your head around the concept of "parametric" image editing where you don't edit the original pixels but you edit the settings parametrically and store those setting in a database. You edit parameters of the image not the image itself–far more efficient than trying to constantly edit and re-edit your originals...

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New Here ,
Feb 23, 2012 Feb 23, 2012

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Jeff, I've been working with Lightroom for a short while.   My learning curve at present concerns metadata and saving it upon export.

I don't mind minimizing the metadata for exported files, as copyright is the most important detail for my uses.  But even when I export with

metadata *not minimized, I cannot find my copyright listed anywhere when I click "get info" on my exported image.  Can you explain why

I do see my copyright listed in the LR metadata panel for an image before export, but later cannot see it embedded in the exported file?

Thanks so much,

Barbara B

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New Here ,
Mar 20, 2012 Mar 20, 2012

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Seems to me that the OP's original question is a very valid one...

Suppose you are using Lightroom to edit a photo (do some color manipulations etc.) and then want to have a copy of that photo's file to send to a friend or otherwise. Well, you're not going to send your complete Lightroom program and catalog to your friend, you only want to send a JPG that he/she can open and see the edits you have made to the photo.

I would think that the way to do this would be to just export the image to a new file, probably in a different folder someplace. Once this is done, you can do whatever you want with this file and still have the original in its original location.

Am I wrong?

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 20, 2012 Mar 20, 2012

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Californiajay,  You are correct in your description of what you can do by exporting the edited version of the image to a new file other than one that contains the original source.    Yes that is possible.

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People's Champ ,
Mar 20, 2012 Mar 20, 2012

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californiajay,

You wrote: "

I would think that the way to do this would be to just export the image to a new file, probably in a different folder someplace. Once this is done, you can do whatever you want with this file and still have the original in its original location.

Am I wrong?"

You are absolutely correct in that BUT you are not saving the Lr edits in the source file by exporting. Exporting creates a new image file with the Lr edits written into it, but the source file remains as it was before. The OP wanted that the Lr edits are written into the image pixels of the original image file.

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New Here ,
May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012

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I agree that Lightroom is amazing in many ways.  But this is very disappointing that I cannot save to the original file.

I've seen many photo 'database' programs come and go over the years.  The databases that I've spent many hours sorting, catagorizing, etc gets flushed when the program gets outdated.  My file structure and the files themselves generally do not.  Granted, Adobe will probably be around for a while for a while but this is a fatal flaw for me as well. 

I think many folks here are missing the point.  I have many types of pictures that once I edit them, I will NEVER edit them again.  Certain pictures are also not useful to me unless they are saved in their edited form.  For example, if I take a personal picture of my kid doing something and wish to make it viewable on some other device like a PS2 or other device for family enjoyment, my edited files do not get displayed unless I re-export them.  Now I have two files that my kids have to sift through, one that doesn't look great, and one that is how I intended it. 

I love the catalog method for most things, but this is such a basic feature that I cannot believe it is intentionally being left out.  At least you could go the microsoft route and give me three warning messages telling me that I'm doing something I shouldn't, but let me overwrite the files if I wish please!

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