PL 3 updating sidecar files before you have a chance to stop it

I just downloaded the PL 3 trail to make sure I wanted to upgrade. I installed it and then started it. When it started it opened the last folder I was working on in PL 2 and once it was finished reading all the files I noticed all of my images now had two images - one with M in the lower right corner and one with 1 in the lower right corner. If I’m understanding it correctly it created a virtual copy for every single image in my folder, all 2744 of them, without giving me a chance to say NO. How do I quickly return to the correct state, i.e., only one copy for each image and all the adjustments made to that entry? Also, if I choose to purchase the upgrade how to I prevent it from creating a virtual copy for each and every image on my disk?

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i think you can:
1 shut down V3
2 create a subfolder inside the image folder, put all sidecar files in there.
(no sidecars are in the image folder anymore.)
3 then open V2 and use File-> sidecars -> export to generate new V2 sidecars.

(this only works when your V2 database isn’t corrupted by v3 sidecars.)

Tip for others: before updating backup/copy sidecars in a subfolder named " Sidecars V2" so they remain untouched.


Tip for DxO: put sidecars in a version-specific subfolder so that users don’t have to do this sort of thing.

Running different major versions of Capture One and Exposure X5 (for two) in parallel is completely painless.

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DPL2 and DPL 3 each have their own database. DPL 3 will not write into the DPL2 database, at least I have never encountered such a thing.

Sidecars are a different story though, they are usually not backwards compatible between major releases. Things like you described can happen, which is fairly annoying in many cases. If you do as Peter proposes above, you might want to

  1. point DPL 3 to a folder that does NOT contain images
  2. change settings of DPL 3 to NOT automatically import and export sidecars
  3. quit DPL 3
  4. open DPL 2 as mentioned and export sidecars again, change settings as in step 2.
  5. quit DPL2
  6. open DPL 3 and point it to the folder the images of which you want to customize
  7. import sidecars

Note: I always set DPL (any version) to NOT import and export sidecars. I then have a) control over the sidecars and b) a separation between the versions because the databases “don’t mix”. Please remember that “going uphill” is a one way street. If you want to recreate in DPL 2 effects that you created in DPL 3, you’ll have to redo them manually - if it is possible (e.g. the HSL tool has changed considerably, recreating DPL 3 effects in DPL 2 will be very difficult or impossible).

The way I use DPL, I use sidecars only to transport settings to newer versions of DPL. According to one of the posts in this forum, some informations are only in the database (e.g. keywords are not in sidecars), which means that some things are lost in translation.

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Does this mean that I need to keep the V2 dops then forever? I guess I can delete them if everything works fine or?

Sigi - - When you’re happy to proceed with PL3 you can allow it to read your PL2-created sidecars and it will convert them to PL3 format … at which stage, tho, PL2 will no longer be able to read these files.

Until then, tho, you will need to follow a process as per OXiDant & Platypus’ suggestions above.

Regards, John M

Hello @rpoole,

1 - Are you a Mac or Win user?
2 - Did you have your PL2 opened when you started PL3?

Svetlana G.

Win, PL2 was not open when I started PL3. As I looked through more images in this folder I found that it not only created one virtual copy for files, for some it created 2 virtual copies and for just a few it created 3 virtual copies. In all cases the first was the Master (with the M indicator). From what I’ve read showing the original image with the M and one virtual copy with a 1 with all the adjustments is the new normal. I could not find a way to tell it to hide the M image when there is an adjustment so now I have a lot more images to scroll through to find what I’m looking for. I hope there is a way to hide the M images or turn this behavior off since it is quite annoying and time consuming.

I cleaned up by:

  1. Open PL3 and navigate to the folder that was at issue
  2. Select and Remove all images in the folder
  3. Turn off auto update of sidecar files
  4. Restore the folder contents from a backup
  5. Open PL2 and navigate to the folder that was at issue
  6. Select and Remove all images in the folder
  7. Restore the folder contents from backup
  8. Open PL2 and navigate to the folder that was at issue and everything will be back in the correct state.

From now on I won’t open a folder with a new version…I’ll copy it somewhere else and work on the copy while evaluating a new version.

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Spot on ! :+1:

Good morning @rpoole,

If you just installed PL3 and opened a folder with PL2 sidecars the virtual copies should not be created - this behavior is not correct.
If you can reproduce this behavior 100%, can you, please, clean your logs %UserProfile%\Documents\DxO PhotoLab 3 logs and then reproduce the issue? Then provide us with the log created and detailed steps.

Thank you,
Svetlana G.

Interestingly, I was just informed by DxO support that we’re no longer licensed to run a previous version of Photolab after an upgrade. Not very clear in the EULA IMO, and it does work in practice, but there’s no guarantee that old license keys will continue to function apparently.

I certainly want to be able to run an old version if I run into something unexpected in the new one and want to compare, but for that I was told I should purchase a new version instead of an upgrade.

I think this is somewhat theoretical because PL2 continues to run even if the license was upgraded to PL3. But still, I can understand that position, because theoretically you could give away the old license key and run more copies of PL than you are actually allowed to. Therefore I can understand that they retain the right to revoke upgrade license keys.

According to my user account with DxO, versions that I upgraded, changed:

  1. the image switches to the new product’s
  2. the license key is replaced by a new one

Nevertheless, I can still run DPL2 with the keys I entered long time ago. This might change which complies with current practices I encounter elsewhere.

One question remains: Will it be possible to get a key for a previous version to enable comparisons?

Yes, it continues to run (for now) as long as you stay on the same computer, but if you need/want to move for another computer for any reason and don’t have an available activation then you’re out of luck since DxO won’t reset the activation counter for an unlicensed version. (I asked. I’m no longer licensed was the answer.)

All DxO has to do to prevent me from running more too many copies of the software is count activations. If an upgrade is replacing the old version then it makes little sense for them to provide a new license key the way they currently do, which does give the impression of a new license having been purchased.

Comparison, and being able to open an image in the version I edited it in if there’s a problem in the new one, is the only reason I want to be able to run an old version, and not allowing this after an upgrade (in a more formal way than it happens to work now) is too restrictive IMO.

Capture One and Exposure (for two) don’t seem to have a problem with this. They don’t even mention upgrade in their license that I can see: it’s just a new license for the new version, not a replacement for the old one. (In the case of Exposure, they list both X4 and X5 as licensed products after my recent upgrade.) They also have more robust activation management though, that allows you to activate and deactivate from within the software, instead of having to contact DxO support to reset an activation counter manually. The software itself also deals with running multiple versions since sidecar files are written to version-specific directories, so that different versions can’t step on one another as with Photolab.

Hello guys,

Even if you activate PL3 your PL2 is running on your PC with its personal activation key (which is actually displayed in your personal account at So the comparison can be done with no problem.

Svetlana G.

Can you carify if a new behavior for new computer.
Can we activate a old version on a new computer ?

I can’t say about the PL2 to PL3 upgrade since I haven’t purchased it, but PL1 is no longer listed under my account, and the answer support has given me is that it’s because I’m no longer licensed: I lost my PL1 license when I upgrade to PL2. True or not?

If true, why is the PL2 to PL3 upgrade any different?


  • So well, I told about 2 runing versions installed side by side on your PC - it does not matter from which version you upgraded PL1/2… these versions will work on your PC along with PL3 and the keys you see in the “About…” pop-up will differ (I mean for PL1 and PL3 for instance).

Second, when you do an upgrade the product in your account is replaced by a new one with the latest key and this is expected.

If I’m not mistaken if you didn’t use your license over the max limit of activations it’s still possible to activate it on the other machine.

Svetlana G.


That it continues to run on the machine the upgrade is performed on isn’t an issue. That’s clearly true, today at least.

Yes, and this is because I’m no longer licensed to run PL1 after the upgrade, correct?

This is where we get to the fine print. What you say looks to be true today: as long as you have available activations on your old license you will be able to activate on a new computer. The problem is when you don’t have available activations and need to contact support to reset the activation counter. Then support says that they can’t help since you no longer have a license for the old version. There’s also no guarantee that DxO will continue to allow you to even run your old version since you’re simply not licensed to run it after the upgrade. This is a big difference compared to upgrades in which you’re given a new license without losing your old one.

Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the DxO license, except that I think it’s overly restrictive, and I don’t think the interpretation is abundantly clear from the EULA.