Virtual Copy File Operations

Virtual copies enable you to create and edit variations of an image while saving storage space. You save on space because the image data is not duplicated, as it would be if you copied the file. You can do anything to a virtual copy that you can do to a regular file, other than the few exceptions discussed below.

You can identify a virtual copy by the turned up lower-left corner in the filmstrip or grid view. You'll also see the copy name appended to the filename. The copy name helps you give meaningful names to your virtual copies. It can be edited on the metadata panel.


The copy and edit information for a virtual copy is stored in the metadata for the master (original) file. Because the virtual copy is stored with the master image, some file operations are not possible and others may have modified behavior.

Virtual Copy File Operations

Most file operations for virtual copies are the same as standard files. Here are the operations that are different:

  • Rename
    The Copy Name can be changed in the Metadata panel. This does not change the file name.
  • Create Virtual Copy
    Creates another virtual copy of the master image with edits from the current virtual copy.
  • Jump to Master
    Selects the master file in Exposure.
  • Reveal in Finder or Explorer
    Opens a window showing the Master file location on your computer.
  • Delete Virtual Copy
    The virtual copy is deleted. This cannot be undone! There is no
    trash or recycling bin, such as your OS provides when deleting a file.
  • Edit in...
    Sends the unmodified master image to the selected application.

File operations not available with virtual copies:

  • Duplicate
  • Copy
  • Cut
  • Paste
  • Drag-and-drop operations to move to another folder

File Operations with Master Files

Because the virtual copies are stored with the master file, certain file operations will also affect the virtual copies.

  • Move Master File
    If you move a master file to another folder, all its virtual copies move with it.  You can't move virtual copies separately from the file.
  • Delete Master File
    All virtual copies are also deleted.
  • Duplicate Master File
    All virtual copies are also duplicated.

Mixed Selection Operations

When you select a mixture of master images and virtual copies, the move, delete, and duplicate operations will only affect master files. The selected virtual copies are not affected.

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