Recreating Your Virtual Copies From An XMP
August 12, 2014
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In my last post, I showed you a way to store your virtual copy edits in your XMP file using snapshots. In this post, I will show you how to easily recreate your virtual copies in your Lightroom catalog after you reimport an image with a sidecar file.

Step 1 – Let’s Create Some Snapshots!

The key to this Lightroom hack is to store your final versions of your virtual copies as snapshots, which is what gets stored with the sidecar XMP. You can easily create a snapshot by pulling up each virtual copy and using the shortcut  + NControl + N.

lightroom snapshots xmp virtual copy

Lightroom Fanatic – Snapshots

Step 2 – Save Your Metadata To An XMP File

To force Lightroom to write your metadata changes, which includes the associated snapshots, to a sidecar file, use the shortcut  + S / Control + S.

Lightroom Fanatic - Save Metadata

Lightroom Fanatic – Save Metadata

Step 3 – Archive Your Original And XMP File

Now that you have everything tucked away inside the XMP file, you can archive your files as you normally would in your workflow. In my case, I copy the Originals folder that has my raw images and the sidecar XMP files to my NAS drive, and then I remove the folder from my Lightroom catalog.

Step 4 – Enter: The Universe

As some point, the Universe is going to create a situation where you will need to recreate or make a modification to an image that you processed years ago. Maybe your final images were on a hard drive that crashed. Maybe a gallery wants to pay you a billion dollars for one of the alternate versions of an image. Whatever the reason, because you have every version final version of an image stored as a snapshot in the XMP file, you will be able to access the processed images and collect your fortune.

Step 5 – Import Your Original Image And XMP Files In To Lightroom

In order to get access to the image and processing data stored in the XMP file, add the image or folder in to Lightroom by adding the folder or by using the Import dialog. Lightroom will add the image in to the catalog and bring in the metadata stored in the XMP file.

Step 6 – Create Virtual Copies Of The Original Image

Now that your image is back in Lightroom, go ahead and create some virtual copies of the image by using the shortcut  + ‘ / Control + ‘.


Lightroom Fanatic – Create Virtual Copies

Step 7 – Apply Snapshots To New Virtual Copies

Navigate to one of your virtual copies, and click on the snapshot that you want to recreate.


Lightroom Fanatic – Recreated Virtual Copy From XMP

Step 8 – Rejoice!

That’s it! You’ve recreated virtual copies from your XMP file by cleverly using Lightroom snapshots! Just remember, if you made changes to your image and you plan on archiving it again, create new snapshots and save those to your XMP, as well. Because the Universe has a funny way of repeating Step 4.

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