Open AAE File

Information, tips and instructions

Sidecar Files

AAE file type is part of the family of the so called sidecar files. Sidecar files store data or metadata which complement or describe another file. Sometimes sidecar files could be embedded inside the file they describe as in case of Exif. The file which sidecar file is connected to is typically called source file. Operating system does not have a special handling for sidecar and source files even though they are connected. Typically sidecar files have the same name as source files and only differ by extension.

Software which understands how to process source and sidecar files will look for a sidecar file when opening a source file. It will read necessary metadata or processing instructions from a sidecar and apply it to sidecar. For example, when RAW or DNG file which contains a digital camera image is opened Adobe Lightroom will look for a corresponding XMP sidecar file. If the XMP file is found, then parameters from it will be applied to a file being read and resulting image displayed to a user. Same algorithm works for AAE files which are sidecar files for JPG images. AAE files store information about all image edits performed within the iOS Photos app. When Photos app reads JPG image it also opens sidecar AAE file and applies changes in it while the image being read. The resulting image is displayed to the user thus making the process completely seamless and invisible to the user.

Sidecar files are useful is that it is much easier to change them instead of processing the source file which is typically bigger and harder to process. In most cases sidecar files are text based which makes them readable even for an average user. Thus, many changes could be done even in text editor.

One source file can have multiple sidecar files each having its unique set of parameters or data. This allows to switch between different editions of the changes.

If necessary, source files could be read without sidecar files present. But opposite is not true. In most cases sidecar files require a source files in order to be correctly opened.