Virtual Copy to Master Photo


Today’s Question: I have had occasion to make a virtual copy of a photo and like it much better than the original version I processed. I would like to keep the virtual copy as the master and delete the original. How can that be done?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can indeed apply the adjustment settings for a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic to the master image, which effectively swaps the adjustment settings between these two versions of the photo.

More Detail: A virtual copy in Lightroom Classic represents an additional interpretation of a source photo. In other words, by using virtual copies you can have more than one set of adjustments applied to the same source image.

From time to time you may find that you are happier with the adjustments applied to the virtual copy, and so you want to retain that version as your master image, and perhaps discard the “other” version of the image.

Let’s assume, for example, that you have optimized your master photo in Lightroom Classic as a color interpretation of the photo. You then create a virtual copy and apply adjustments that produce a black and white interpretation of the image. You then decide that you want to keep the black and white version of the image, and discard the color interpretation. In other words, you want to apply the settings from the virtual copy to the master image.

To do so, you can simply select the virtual copy that you want to “upgrade” to having the status as your master image. Then go to the menu and choose Photo > Set Copy as Master. This will swap the adjustment settings for the photo, so that in this example the master image will have the black and white adjustments and the virtual copy will have the color adjustments.

At that point, if you only want to retain the primary version of your photo, you could right-click on the virtual copy and choose the option to Remove Photo. Just be sure that in this type of situation you are only ever removing a virtual copy, not removing the master image.