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I used to be able to create a virtual copy, then somehow Synch was on but I don't want to synch (ever) so I "paused" it and now it doesn't allow me to create a virtual copy
Having sync on or off doesn't have anything to do with the ability to create virtual copies. I have sync enabled, and I create virtual copies frequently. Something else is happening. You might want to consider resetting your preferences.
OK. I'm all for it, how do I re-set my preferences?
Setting Lightroom Classic preferences
Although resetting the LR Classic preferences may help I doubt it will in this case.
To my knowledge the actual Preferecnes has nothing to do with creating a Virtual Copy of a image file that has been imported to the LR catalog.
Most likely you are trying to create a VC for an image that is missing. That is why I asked for a screen shot of the Library module window of LR.
Please show us a screen shot of the image you are trying to make a virtual copy of.