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Experiment in Lightroom using Virtual Copies

Posted by Roger Hyttinen on

This post is part of our Learning Lightroom series.

By creating Virtual Copies of your images, you can experiment on the same image using a variety of different settings. Virtual Copies act and look just like the originals, and you can apply settings to each one independently. But the beautiful thing about Virtual Copies is that they are not real files — they are only a set of instructions, which means they take up no extra space on your hard disk. Thus, you can create as many copies as you like without having to worry about running out of disk space. Note that any changes you make to a Virtual Copy do not affect the original.

Virtual Copy Command on Contextual Menu

To create a Virtual Copy, right-click on the image in the center pane or in the Filmstrip, and choose Create Virtual Copy. You can also use the keyboard combination Command + ' if using Mac or Ctrl + ' if using Windows.

You can tell which of your images are Virtual Copies by the Page Curl icon on the bottom left of the image, which displays when you view a photo in Grid View from the Library Module.

Page Curl Icon

In the Develop module, Lightroom adds the text “Copy 1”, “Copy 2”, etc. after the file name of any virtual copies.

Quick Guide: To Create and Use Virtual Copies

  1. Either from the center pane or from the Filmstrip, right-click the image of which you want to create a Virtual Copy and choose Create Virtual Copy from the contextual menu


    Click the desired image and press Command + ' if using Mac or Ctrl + ' if using Windows.


    Click the desired image and choose Photo > Create Virtual Copy from the menu.

    2.To delete a Virtual Copy, click the copy and then press the Delete key on your keyboard. Click the Remove button when prompted.

Looking to learn Lightroom CC Classic? Check out our Lightroom Up To Speed ebook guide, available at Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBooks and Barnes and Noble. It’s is also available in PDF format from this website.

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