Today’s Question: Can you rename a virtual copy in Lightroom Classic without renaming the original image the virtual copy was based on?
Tim’s Quick Answer: If you rename a virtual copy, you are actually renaming the source image as well. If you want a unique reference name for a virtual copy, you should use the “Copy Name” field instead.
More Detail: A virtual copy in Lightroom Classic is simply a reference to the original image, providing a way to have more than one interpretation of the same source image. As such, if you rename a virtual copy, you are actually renaming the source image, along with all virtual copies, since the virtual copies are simply a reference to the original.
If you want to have a unique reference name for a virtual copy, I recommend using the “Copy Name” field in metadata. By default, the first virtual copy you create from a source image will have the name “Copy 1” put in the Copy Name field, with the second having “Copy 2” for Copy Name, and so on.
The Copy Name field is editable, however, so you can enter any text you’d like in that field, such as descriptive text about the virtual copy. For example, if you created a black and white interpretation as a virtual copy based on a color original, you could enter “Black and White” in the Copy Name field.
Note that the Copy Name is shown to the right of the filename for the selected image in the info display above the thumbnail filmstrip toward the top-left of the bottom panel. That Copy Name field can also be displayed as part of the filename in the information shown for each photo in the grid view display. In other words, while you can’t change the filename for a virtual copy without renaming the original, the Copy Name field serves the same basic purpose quite well.