Have you looked into Bridge templates? Can make a template then copy metadata to multiple images.
Is it possible to record certain actions on a raw file without opening the file in Photoshop?
No...an Action is something that records something in Photoshop. Yes, an Action can record ACR settings....but you need to actually end up opening the image in Photoshop and it will render the file.
What you really want to do is to look into Camera Raw Presets and using them while in Bridge. You would open a representative image, adjust the image, save a preset and then apply that preset to as many images as you want to in Bridge. Also note you can open multiple images in ACR, select them and adjust multple images at once. You can also adjust an image and then in Bridge, copy the settings from the one file and paste them to others.
Lots of way to accomplish what you want but not really by Actions in Photoshop.
Thanks. All three methods work fine and is exactly what I wanted to do. I am even impressed that the lens correction applied the correct lens profile where there were two or more files in the batch shot with different lenses.
Is there a practical limit to the number of files I can open in ACR and process if I choose the first two suggestions? I really do have about 250 files that I want to make some common changes to, but I wonder if Photoshop/my computer can handle the volume. (If it's relevant, I have a recent model Core i7 iMac with 8G of memory. Not the fastest on the planet, but it handles other complex Photoshop tasks well.)
I appreciate your response.