Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Copies in Lightroom

Lightroom has some useful tools for organizing and working with large collections of photos, and one particularly useful option is virtual copies. If you have not used them before or you want to get more out of them, check out this fantastic video tutorial that will show you everything you need to know to use virtual copies. 

Coming to you from Anthony Morganti, this awesome video tutorial will show you the ins and outs of working with virtual copies in Lightroom. Virtual copies are exactly what they sound like: they are copies of your images that do not actually create multiple versions of the same file. In other words, they are simply multiple edits of the same image represented as distinct photos in the Lightroom roll. This allows you to, for example, create a color edit of a photo and a separate black and white edit should you wish to have prints of both. Or, if you are unsure of how you want to edit a shot, you can create multiple versions and select later. The beauty of the virtual copies is that they create very little additional overhead beyond the initial file. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Morganti. 

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bart .'s picture

Don't forget to add that, if you make a VC of an edited image, but don't want to work on top of existing edits, right click on new VC, select "Develop Settings", and then select "Reset".

Now your new VC has no edits applied, and is in its "original" state.

James Dayvis's picture

I use virtual copies all the time, organising different edits into collections. It then drives me nuts that Lightroom only allows you to delete virtual copies from folders and not from collections. WHY?

Gregory Mills's picture

I have tried many other editors such as Capture One and I keep coming back to Lightroom because I cant live without Virtual Copies. Once you start using them, they become to important to your workflow. Every finished photo has multiple virtual copies of it with different aspect ratios, each cropped slightly differently to give me a perfect composition at 8x10, 5x7, 4x6, square crop for Instagram, etc. No other program does this.

James Kingsbury's picture

Sounds useful, I'll give it a try. Unless I'm missing something however I have 2 concerns. First then you come totally dependent on Lr since your edits are only there not on your storage. Second, only someone knowledgeable of Lr (an very complex hard to use system) will be able to view your photos and edits. Unlike a conventional system like File Explore that it easy to learn and most kbow.