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When I travel I want to be able to back up my RAW photos with metadata to an external hard drive, and then later import them on to my iMac. (For whatever reason, photos on my MacBook don't always upload to iCloud, despite being on the same account as the iCloud.). If I export originals, the metadata must go in an XMP sidecar. Mac Photos does not want to import that sidecar. When I tested it, once the metadata didn't go with it, but once it did. I may have done something wrong the first time. When I imported into Lightroom CC, the metadata seemed to go along. I am not sure it's all going with the photo. Can I rely on being able to access the metadata with the RAW photo? Thank you.

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Use the Disk Utility application to create a sparse bundle on you external drive. You can then mount this as a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume for storage of your RAW photos. The metadata will then stay with your RAW photos. If needed, you can even use the Disk Utility application to increase or decrease the size of the sparse bundle image.

Instructions to create the sparse bundle are as follows.

  1. Open the Disk Utility application.
  2. From the menu bar, select File->New Image->Blank Image....
  3. Input your requirements in the window. Below is an example. The size is the maximum size that the sparse bundle can grow to be. Initially, this example sparse bundle only takes 247.1 MB of space on the external MS-DOS (FAT) formatted volume named MYFAT.
  4. Select the Save button.

    Note: A sparse bundle is a folder containing many small files.

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Instructions to resize the sparse bundle are as follows.

Note: You will need to eject the sparse bundle before resizing.

  1. Open the Disk Utility application.
  2. From the menu bar, select Images->Resize...
  3. Select the sparse bundle folder. I my case this would be named My RAW Pics.sparsebundle.
  4. Enter a new size. In my case, I chose to double the maximum size to 200 GB, as shown below.
  5. Select the Resize button.

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A final note regarding the use of other image files.

You can also create a image as a dmg file. The difference here is that volume size is limited by the maximum file size of the format used by your external drive. Also, dmg file occupies space on your external drive equal to the size of the stored Mac OS Extended (Journaled) volume. A sparse bundle grows to occupy space on the external drive as needed.

You can also create a sparse image file. Like a dmg file, a sparse image file volume size is limited by the maximum file size of the format used by your external drive. Like a sparse bundle, a sparse image grows to occupy space on the external drive as needed. Again, a sparse file image is a single file, where as a sparse bundle image is a folder containing many small files.

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    Very helpful response! I created the sparse bundle disk image on the external drive, and I have a test raw image and the xmp sidecar in it. When I want to import from here, will the xmp data automatically go with the photo? Thanks very much! – Bronwen Feb 19 '18 at 2:04

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