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How to Duplicate a Photo in Lightroom Classic CC

Duplicating photos in Lightroom is a useful skill to learn. Especially when you want to be able to edit the same photo in different ways, present multiple edits to clients more efficiently, or experiment with different styles and see your work side-by-side. Or if you just want to try another crop in Lightroom, or rotating your image without affecting the original photo.

We’ll cover the two main ways to use Lightroom Classic to duplicate photos, which is best for your needs, and when to use them.

How To Create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom

Virtual Copy in Lightroom CC

A virtual copy is a feature in Lightroom that allows you to duplicate your photo and make separate edits on it, without taking up more space on your computer.

Virtual copies utilize non-destructive editing. This means that no matter what changes you make to your image whilst working in lightroom, your original raw file will not be changed, and you can always come back to it.

When you create a virtual copy, you are essentially editing the same raw image file, but adding a different set of editing instructions to it. This allow you to edit the same image in two different ways, simultaneously.

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Step 1: Select Your Image

Whilst in the develop module, locate and select your image in the bottom filmstrip. (if you can’t see your filmstrip, go to Window > Panels > Show/Hide Filmstrip)

Duplicate a photo - show filmstrip

Step 2: Create Virtual Copy

Right-click your image and select Create Virtual Copy

This will create a virtual copy of your image that should appear on the right-hand side of your original image. If you get confused about which is which, you can identify which is the virtual copy by the ‘page-turn’ symbol on the bottom left corner.

Duplicate a photo by creating virtual copy
Photo duplicate virtual copy with dog ear

Why Use Virtual Copies To Duplicate A Photo?

Virtual copies are a great lightroom feature that allows you to save space and time on your computer. As you are only duplicating the photo within Lightroom, no more space is taken up on your computer. Generally, if you would like to duplicate a photo in Lightroom, virtual copies are the way to go.

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__CONFIG_colors_palette__{“active_palette”:0,”config”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“name”:”Main Accent”,”parent”:-1}},”gradients”:[]},”palettes”:[{“name”:”Default Palette”,”value”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“val”:”var(–tcb-color-4)”,”hsl”:{“h”:46,”s”:0.8692,”l”:0.01}}},”gradients”:[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__

How To Duplicate The Original File

It is generally recommended that you avoid duplicating your original image file to make multiple edits in lightroom. This is because duplicating the original image is not only inefficient but doubles the space that image is taking up on your computer, which can lead to your computer slowing down and running less efficiently. However, if you need to duplicate the original file, it can be done.

Step 1: Locate And Duplicate Photos

Locate your image on your computer. To duplicate it, right-click with your mouse and select ‘Duplicate’. You should now have two versions of your image, the original and a copy.

duplicate photo

How To Import Duplicate Photos in Lightroom

Step 1: Open the Import Photos Window

Whilst in Lightroom, go to File > Import Photos and Videos. This will open up your import window.

import photos and videos

Step 2: Don’t bypass Duplicate Photos

By default, Lightroom’s settings try to prevent you from importing suspected duplicate images, to bypass this, uncheck the option on the right-hand side of the import window labeled Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates.

import window
uncheck don't import suspected duplicates

Step 3: Locate your Images and Import

Locate your copied image file in the lightroom import window, select it and press the Import button on the bottom right-hand corner.

duplicate photo selected

There should now be two versions of your photo visible in your library/filmstrip.

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__CONFIG_colors_palette__{“active_palette”:0,”config”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“name”:”Main Accent”,”parent”:-1}},”gradients”:[]},”palettes”:[{“name”:”Default Palette”,”value”:{“colors”:{“62516”:{“val”:”var(–tcb-color-4)”,”hsl”:{“h”:46,”s”:0.8692,”l”:0.01}}},”gradients”:[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__

How to Use Lightroom to Remove a Virtual Copy

To remove duplicate photos or virtual copies you should use this method:

Step 1: Switch to Grid View

The easiest way to find duplicate images in Lightroom, without using a dedicated plugin, is by switching to Grid View (G)

Step 2: Find Duplicate Photos in Lightroom Using a Filter

Add a filter, and search for an image by its iamge name.

Step 3: How to Delete Virtual Copies

When you have filter photos by its name, you should only see the original and the virtual copies created of this image. Delete the photo (virtual copy version).

Alternatively, you can alse press X, to reject the photo. When you have rejected all the photos you want. Press CMD/CTRL + Bakspace to delete all rejected photos.


There are several different ways to create a duplicate of your image in Lightroom. For most occasions, creating a virtual copy is the most efficient and straightforward way of duplicating your image. However, if you instead just want to compare editing states of the same image, snapshots in Lightroom might be a better option for you..

How do you use Lightroom to duplicate photos? Let us know in the comments below.

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