Everything to Know about the XMP File Format

XMP-files-feature

Have you found an XMP file, and you don’t know what it is?

Don’t worry – here’s a quick guide that will tell you everything you need to know about XMPs, also known as extensible metadata platform files.

What is an XMP file?

An XMP file is what’s known as a sidecar file. Whenever you open a raw file with Adobe software such as Photoshop, it creates an XMP file.

XMP stands for Extensible Metadata Platform, and it contains the edits done to raw files and the metadata from the camera.

How do I Open an XMP file?

All Adobe extensible metadata platform files have a corresponding camera raw file. Usually, you don’t open the XMP file – instead, you use a photo editing program to open the image file.

The Adobe programs that can open or reference an XMP file are:

However, any text editor can open an XMP file because Adobe’s extensible metadata platform stores the information as plain text so that XMP compatible applications can search it.

How to Open XMP Files in Photoshop

To open an XMP file in Photoshop, you only need to open the corresponding camera raw file – it will automatically load with the metadata file.

Also, an XMP file extension could be a preset because it contains a series of edits done to an image. To apply the edits from the Adobe extensible metadata platform to your photos, you can import them through the Camera Raw Filter.

In the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) workspace, go to the Presets section and select Import Profiles & Presets. You’ll be able to upload XMP file types that you can apply to any of your photos.

How to Open XMP Files in Lightroom

When you open and edit a raw file with Lightroom, it won’t create any XMP file formats – instead, it saves the information in your Lightroom Catalog.

This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t support XMP files. Using a Desktop version of Lightroom, you can upload presets with XMP file extensions. Once installed, you can also use them in the mobile version.

To do so, you need to open a photo and click the Presets button in the bottom right. Then, select Import Prestes from the menu and select the files you want to upload.

With this operation, you can’t edit XMP files, but you can apply the edits to your photos. Once you apply this, you can continue to edit your image, and the changes will be saved in the LR catalog.

If you want to store metadata as an Adobe extensible metadata platform, you can go to Catalog Settings and tick the choice Automatically write changes into XMP.

XMP File Converter Download

The XMP file extension is a text file with information that can be applied or embedded into a photo. I’ve tried some websites and programs that advertise they can do the conversion, but none of them worked.

At this point, I don’t know any program that can convert XMP files into another file format.

XMP File FAQs

  • Do I need XMP files? 

XMP is a standard metadata format that saves new information associated with a raw file because you can’t save it directly. So, if you want your raw files to keep the editing you’ve already done, then yes, you need the XMP file type.

  • Can you delete XMP files?

You can delete an XMP file without losing or altering your camera raw files. However, you’ll lose all the file info regarding metadata and edits – it’s like hitting reset and going back to the original raw file as shot.

  • How do I convert an XMP file to JPEG?

You can’t convert an XMP file directly into a JPEG or any other picture file format. You need to open an image, apply the XMP preset and save it as a JPEG.

  • Does Lightroom read XMP files?

Yes, Lightroom supports an XMP file extension and can be uploaded as a preset.

  • What happens if you delete an XMP file?

If you delete an XMP file, you lose the edits you’ve made to your raw files.

  • Can you convert XMP to DNG?

You can’t convert an XMP file to DNG directly because an XMP file format contains text while a DNG is an image file extension. You can, however, embed the XMP data into a DNG to avoid having two files.

  • How do I view XMP metadata?

When you open files in a text editor, you’ll be able to see the file description and all the metadata in them. Also, programs from Adobe Systems Incorporated can read the metadata from an XMP file extension and associate it with an image.

  • Where are XMP files stored?

XMP files get stored in the same directory as the raw file that’s associated with it.

  • Should I automatically write changes to XMP?

I recommend you do it – this way, you’re making a backup of your edits separate from the LR catalog in case something goes wrong.

  • Does Lightroom import XMP files?

Yes, you can import an XMP file as a presets, but you can’t directly open or edit the file.

Final Words

File formats are always rather confusing – we’ve already covered Sony ARW files, Canon CR2 files, Nikon NEF files and even GoPro LRV & THM files elsewhere on Shotkit… and there are more to come!

Usually, there’s no need to take special care over the various file extensions – just leave them as they are. You can delete XMPs if you really want to, but there really isn’t any need.

At least you now know what they are and why they’re there! Feel free to ask us any questions about the XMP file type in the comments below.

Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

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