It’s easy to end up with duplicate photos in your catalog that need cleaning up. These may be real files on the hard drive or virtual copies. Either way, some will have edits you don’t want to lose. For example, you may have edited one copy of the photo in the Develop module, and applied keywords to another copy. How can you copy metadata or edits between photos and consolidate this information into a single copy of each photo?
Copying Metadata and Settings
It gets a little more complicated when your edits are split over multiple copies of the photo, for example, when one copy has the Develop edits and another has the keywords, Title and star rating. The thought process might go something like this:
In this case, you’ll want to copy the metadata or edits onto the copy of the photo you’re planning to keep, so let’s learn how…
If you’re simply copying a single Title, Caption, collection of keywords or other metadata, then you can select the Title in the Metadata panel, or perhaps the keywords in the Keywording panel, copy them to the clipboard, select the photo you’re keeping, and paste the metadata into the same field.
If you need to transfer multiple metadata fields, for example, both the Title and the keywords, then you can use the Sync Metadata controls to copy and paste them in one go, rather than one field at a time. The Sync Settings control allows you to do the same for Develop settings.
- Go to Grid view.
- Select the Source photo (the one that has the metadata or Develop edits you want to transfer).
- Hold down the Ctrl key (Windows) / Cmd key (Mac) and click on the thumbnail of the Target photo (the copy of the photo you’re going to keep).
- At this point, the Source photo’s border should be lighter gray than the Target photo, like this:
- Select the Sync Settings (Develop settings) or Sync Metadata (text metadata incl. keywords).
- If you’re syncing metadata, click the Check Filled button or just check specific fields you want to transfer. This can include star ratings, flag status, Title, Caption, copyright information, GPS location, keywords, and more. Click Synchronize to copy the metadata from the Source photo to the Target photo.
- If you’re syncing Develop settings, click the Check All button to include all of the photo’s edits. Click Synchronize to copy the Develop settings from the Source photo to the Target photo.
- Once you’re happy that the Target photo has all of the edits you want to keep, you can delete the duplicates.
There are a few things to watch out for:
- If you’ve used face recognition, there’s no way to copy or sync face regions, so select the copy of the photo that has the named faces as the Target photo that you’ll keep.
- Sync Settings only retains the current Develop settings, not the list of History states, so if these are important to you, make the version of the photo that has the Develop History the Target photo that you’ll keep.
- If the copy of the photo you want to keep is currently marked as missing, copy the metadata and settings onto a copy of the photo that still has access to the original.
There’s also a very handy plug-in that enables syncing from Virtual Copies to the master photo. It’s the Syncomatic plug-in from John Beardsworth. It can sync flags, star ratings labels and keywords and most Develop settings, but the crop is not copied.
It’s a time consuming job, as you must go through each set of photos in turn, but it’s not complicated and you end up with a lovely clean catalog at the end!
For more information on Lightroom Classic, see Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQ.
See also related post How do I clean up duplicate photos?
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