A certain part of my workflow involves importing images into LR with their original names (DSC_Whatever), editing them and exporting as a new name e.g. LL_001. The new name is a custom name including the initials of the client and the numbers in their set.

The problem I have is that when a client orders their pictures and I go back into LR to print them. The image numbers are still DSC etc. The only way I have been finding the files they have ordered is by cross-referencing them with the contact sheets I sent out in the first place which is obviously very time-consuming if I'm dealing with 50+ images.

I found a way in the library to rename the files by highlighting them all and pressing ctrl+f2. This works great but it renames virtual copies as something like LL_001-2 which is not how the renaming works when exporting. The reason I use virtual copies is that I convert certain images into a black and white copy.

If I'm honest I'm starting to get a bit tired of messing around with the renaming problem. I don't see what I'm doing as particularly out of the ordinary.

The question is, can I somehow rename the virtual copies using this method and by giving the copy the next number in the sequence? If not, is there another way to rename all files the same way as the export?

Example: Files imported into lightroom: DSC_250.raw, DSC_251.raw, DSC_252.raw

DSC_251.raw- created virtual copy: DSC_25.raw, DSC_251.raw, DSC_251-1.raw, DSC_252.raw

Ctrl+a, ctrl+f2, rename all starting from LL_001: LL_001.raw, LL_002.raw, LL_002-1.raw, LL_003.raw

Ctrl+a, export all images with new name starting from LL_001 (just to get a seq number): LL_001.jpg, LL_002.jpg, LL_003.jpg, LL_004.jpg

The issue now I have my files renamed perfectly for the client but they do not match the names in Lightroom.

I'm not looking for an explanation of what a virtual copy is. I know it's not a real file and I'm just looking for a valid solution of how to give the file a useful name from the same sequence as the other files so that they match customer contact sheets. If you are able to tell me an alternative way of doing it (not exporting and re-importing jpegs) then I would be grateful but please don't just explain what a virtual copy is.

  • I don't know about virtual copies, but why not rename the original files as you import them from the card so they follow your naming convention from the start?
    – MikeW
    May 21, 2015 at 19:05
  • Because the virtual copy is still not given the next sequential number
    – connersz
    May 21, 2015 at 21:12
  • I meant as far as having to do the cross-referencing from the client orders and your contact sheets. That they ask for LL* and you have the original DSCxxxx. Anyway, tangential to your actual question, just curious
    – MikeW
    May 21, 2015 at 21:16

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure what you're referring to. In Lr 6 if I create a virtual copy of a file named img_1234.jpg Lr designates that as Copy 1; there's no file name because a virtual copy isn't a file. You'll see the "Copy name" field under "File name" in the Metadata panel.

If I export a FILE to the same folder as the original FILE then I get a naming conflict; img_1234.jpg (the original) and img_1234.jpg (an exported real copy) cannot reside in the same folder, so Lr will rename the latter to img_1234-1.jpg or something.

If I use the rename function in Lr while I've got a virtual COPY selected, Lr renames the FILE, so then all the virtualy copies have that new file name.

The virtual copies should always be associated with their originals. So img_1234.jpg should have copies 1 through x right there with it.

If you exported FILES did you use the option to reimport them into Lr? In other words, it seems you imported img_1234.jpg. Then exported FILE LL_1234.jpg. Lr doesn't know that LL_1234.jpg exists unless you import it; it's a separate photo file.

  • I get what you're saying but it doesn't provide a resolution to the problem. I understand what you mean but a virtual copy doesn't really exist but if it can rename it as copy1 I don't see why it can't just rename it as the next sequential number. I will add an example to my question to clarify what I am asking.
    – connersz
    May 21, 2015 at 15:41
  • You don't seem to understand that virtual copies aren't files, as cmason and I have explained. You can accomplish what you want, but only after you recognize that using virtual copies to do it isn't the way to go. You CANNOT change the filename of a virtual copy because it isn't a FILE, so it doesn't have a filename.
    – 211Oakland
    May 22, 2015 at 16:27
  • I'm 100% aware that they are not files but they're still given a name so I don't see why they can't just be given the next name in the sequence; Yes that will mean that the next 'real file' will jump a number but that's hardly going to be an issue, especially if you only use the files in the context of Lightroom or an export. I'm quite happy for you to provide another way of doing it, but exporting as a jpeg and re-importing is not a good way to go about it because you will lose the edit data.
    – connersz
    May 26, 2015 at 9:20

Perhaps we need to rethink the workflow to achieve the same ends in a different manner, since Lr doesn't do what you want.

Many Lr users export edited files to others and then have to access the originals in Lr to produce new exports, prints, etc. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to use the same name for the exported photo as for the photo in Lr. IOW, rename them in Lr before exporting. That's what I do, and the person who receives the photo and I both have the same filename so we can talk about the same photo. And that works even if I'm outside Lr and looking at them on a thumbdrive or something.

If you renamed DSC_1234 as LL_001 in Lr it doesn't change anything about virtual copies; a VC of either will have the same filename and "Copy 1" added in the copyname field. You can always find the original by just clicking the arrow next to "Copy 1." And your client and you will both be looking at LL_001, formerly DSC_1234, when you correspond about it. If I make VCs and do something with them, say a BW and a crop, then I name the copies to something more descriptive, like "B&W" and "crop." So when I print or export I include those names, so "LL_001 BW," "LL_001 crop," and so on. So again the recipient and I are talking about the same file. If I ever need the original filename, no problem: Lr has that stored, and it's easy to rename back to the original if necessary. You can see it under the panel "Exif and IPTC."

But I imagine you've got something else going on, since this common way of doing things isn't working. I don't ever rename files unless somebody else requires it (it might be their files, and my camera sequence might not meet their needs, or duplicate existing filenames they may already have like "img_0001"). I use other tags to identify client, or keywords, or the various job and other tags in IPTC.

  • That is essentially my plan-B but I still think it's a shame that it has to be done this way. It makes room for error because my clients usually list the file names in an email that they want and it's possible that they could forget to add the B&W at the end of one.
    – connersz
    May 28, 2015 at 8:09

Open the Metadata panel in Library view for the Copy, you will see a section called 'Copy Name'. Simply change the name there.

However, you can't, as far as I know, apply any automation or sequence numbers at import or creation of copies.

You can add sequence numbers to Copies on Export, which has a function to automatically rename Copies with a sequence number on Export, but that does not resolve your issue, unless you export then re-import the jpg.

  • I don't have a problem renaming files on import. The issue is renaming virtual copies using the next sequential number.
    – connersz
    May 21, 2015 at 21:13
  • so @connersz you vote down because LR doesn't do what you want? LR does not provide sequential naming for copies
    – cmason
    May 21, 2015 at 23:56
  • I'm going to mark the answer back up but I was really looking for a more substantial answer to my problem, even if it means doing something differently. I can't imaging I'm the first person to do this; Imagine you were a school using LR to send contacts to parents that included virtual copies, lets say you create the contacts outside LR from the files exported and use LR to print them. If the parent orders one of the virtual copies it will have a totally different name in the contact than in LR and after the first virtual copy, every photo will have the wrong name.
    – connersz
    May 22, 2015 at 8:59
  • Understand @connersz, but 'outside LR' only exists if you Export, in which case each Virtual Copy can be assigned a sequential name as you requested. HOWEVER, that name won't be assigned to the Virtual Copy in LR, you need to import the created JPG to track that image.
    – cmason
    May 22, 2015 at 13:18

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