Aug 30, 2016

How to Use Virtual Copies in Lightroom

How to Use Virtual Copies in Lightroom

Learn how to create multiple versions of your photos and save disk space by using Virtual Copies in Lightroom – your clients will love you for it!

How to Create Virtual Copies

To create a virtual copy of an image in Lightroom, simply right-click on an image and go to ‘Create Virtual Copy’. No additional files will be created on your computer, these copies are references of the original image stored in the Lightroom catalog.

Create Multiple Versions of Each Image

Creating Virtual Copies will allow you to have multiple edited versions of your images that you can then send to your clients.

In this example we create two Virtual Copies of our main image and make one of the copies ‘Black & White’ and another ‘Sepia’. These edits take very little time and make it look like you are delivering much more!

Sync Settings and Presets

After creating ‘Black & White’ and ‘Sepia’ toned images, the same develop settings can be applied to multiple images in a catalog. To sync settings, simply click on the source image, then CTRL/CMD+CLICK on the second image in a series and go to ’Sync Settings’ in the Library module. Click on ’Check All’ and click ’Synchronize’. The develop settings you applied on the first image will be transferred onto the rest of the images selected in the Sync.

If you would like to create a Preset, start by clicking on the ‘Develop’ module at the top of the Screen and go to ‘Presets’ on the left hand side. After making Adjustments, click on the ‘+’ icon in the Presets Screen and name your preset under ‘User Presets’.

You can apply this Preset to any image moving forward simply by clicking on the preset name in the Preset window.

Exporting Virtual Copies

In this example, we create a ‘Color’, ‘Black & White’ and ‘Sepia’ version of two images and want each to be exported by editing Style.

Start by selecting each of the Variations and right-clicking to navigate to Export. For naming convenience, click on the ‘Rename’ option and choose ‘Filename – Sequence’ and type in a name for the editing Variation. Export to “Choose Folder Later’ and then create a folder name that mirrors the editing name on your computer and place the images in that folder.

In this example, we create folders named ‘Color’ ‘BW’ and ‘Sepia’ and export each edited Variation into each of the folders.

This way, when it comes time to deliver images to your clients, they will receive pre-sorted folders with different Variations in each!


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  • user image

    I like these types of videos. They are short and to the point, but there is a lot of detail included.

  • user image

    Perfect Timing! Thanks for another great tutorial! I’ve been trying virtual images, but this gives me a much more streamlined way to work with them, set presets, and export.

  • user image
    Gina Hearon

    Great tutorial as always. I didn’t get a reply to my last inquiry as how to fix something you’re cutting out of a photo and replacing it with the brick wall that is already in the background. I have a picture I just can’t fix. I can’t reproduce the wall where the two items are that I cut out. Well, I can but it looks terrible. It was an tutorial about two to three weeks ago and you talked about not using the eraser to cut things out. How do I get you to show how to fix a tricky picture with a brick background? I think the tutorial was on layer mask?

  • user image
    Alami Ahmad

    you are the best, Please show us how to make tattoo on human body on Photoshop:)

  • user image

    I will assume since the photos are synced if you make changes to one all will change? So in the long run it may be better to create the preset in case one photo needs tweeking.

  • user image
    Ruth Burleigh

    I look forward to your tutorials they are so helpful, clear, and easy to follow. You do a great job thank you.

  • user image

    I’d like to know how to crop an image on a layer, so it’s no destructive. Is this possible?
    Kind regards

  • user image

    Love the Lightroom videos. Keep them coming. I also enjoy the photoshop videos but I don’t have the full photoshop, only have PS Elements 10.. I do however, have Lightroom 6 and use it most of the time so LR videos are great.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Use Virtual Copies in Lightroom

  • user image

    Thank you very much for this excellent tutorial Lr. I had heard mention realmete but did not know what was used.

    I would like to see a Photoshop tutorial which show how to convert a photo to a painting in oil or watercolor.

    Thank you very much.
    Wonderful your explanations, Aaron!

  • user image

    In its two last video I see much better image resolution, this recording with another computer, a follower, it’s just curiosity, Greetings

  • user image

    When working with virtual copies I can not get a grid view when I pick out a picture from a folder and open it in Lightroom>Develop there is no option at the bottom to pick grid view. Is there another way around this in Lightroom.

  • user image

    Just found you via the “Virtual Copies” tutorial !!

    Very, easy to follow …great diction and audio system is a huge advantage!!