May 23, 2024

As a help moderator, I get to see a lot of problems and questions come in. One thing I’ve just answered is in relation to something that I’ve actually done myself. Usually in Lightroom, if you’re in a single image mode like Loupe View, or Develop, your action will apply only to that image (bar Export). Of course, if you have Auto Sync on, the settings apply to all selected images. Easy to reset via History, if a little tedious (or via Undo, if you’ve not gone too far before realising your mistake). 

In this case the mistake I’m talking about is creating a virtual copy of lots of images, when only meaning to make one. It can happen with Auto Sync in Develop, or by accidentally having ‘Create New Virtual Copies’ ticked, when making a collection. So how do we fix this? It’s actually pretty easy. 

  • With the Collection (or Folder) selected, press the backslash key (\) or choose Show Filter Bar from the View Menu in the Library module. 
  • Click on the word Attribute. 
  • At the right of the Filter Bar will be the word Kind, followed by 3 Icons, which are Master File, Virtual Copy and Movie icons. 


  • Click on the 2nd one, Virtual Copy, to show only virtual copies. 
  • Select all the copies (Control A on PC, Command A on Mac) and press the delete key. 
  • A dialog saying ‘Remove the selected Virtual Copies’ will appear with the options Remove and Cancel. Click remove. 

And that’s it. 

5 thoughts on “Remove accidental Virtual Copies

  1. Is there any way to see the virtual copies and the master using a filter or smart collection or a plugin? It would be great to see the master photo and all the VCs associated with it without having to scroll through photos that don’t have virtual copies. I’ve tried color coding the virtual copies to make them stand out in grid view, but it isn’t ideal and it is still easy to miss some. Thanks!

  2. Another way is to go to Library and click on “Find”. A box should pop up for you to enter text into. Type in “copy” or “copy 1” and it should bring up the VC photos. In “Edit” click on “Select All” That will select only the VC copies found in the search. Then “Delete” to banish the VC copies to the outer space.

    1. Hi Gordon, yes, there is the Find command in the Library menu, but using text search means that you have to be certain you haven’t renamed the copy text, which people do… e.g. to B&W for example. Though I’m guessing if you renamed it, you actually want to keep it. There was a Find section in the Left panel way back that even had a cool Date Range option. Long gone.

  3. Thank you for this! The problem I’m running into right now is that I have some virtual copies that are in different collections and I’d like to get rid of the virtual copies, but keep the photos in those collections. In other words, if the master copy is in collection A and the virtual copy is in collection B, is there a way to make it so that the master copy is in both collections and the virtual copy is gone? (This would be easy to do with one photograph, but it becomes a real waste of time when there are hundreds like this.)

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