Update Feb. 5: Flickr has extended its 1,000-photo limit to March 12. Users with free accounts have until then to download their files before they're deleted.
Have you saved all of your photos to Flickr? Unless you want to pay for a subscription, you’ll want to download them off the service, or risk losing them forever.
After SmugMug purchased Flickr, it announced some changes to the site’s generous storage options. Until now, users could post up to 1TB of photos on Flickr for free. Flickr also offered ad-free pro accounts for $25 per year, a popular low-cost storage option for pros and prolific shooters.
As of March 12, 2019, SmugMug will limit the number of free photos to 1,000 and double the price of Flickr pro accounts to $50 per year, but add a few perks like analytics, discounts on photo books, and other incentives. Current Flickr users get a 15 percent discount for the first year if they sign up for a pro account by January 8, 2019.
If you take no action by March 12, SmugMug will delete your photo collection after the first 1000 images and videos — permanently. Even if you decide to pay up later, deleted images and videos will not be restored.
If you currently have over 1,000 images on Flickr, your choices are to pay for a pro version, stick with Flickr for free and pare down your photo collection to 1,000 of your favorite photos and videos, opt out of Flickr completely, and/or close down your Flickr account.
How to download your photos from Flickr
If you have more than 1,000 images and you want to maintain a free account, there are several ways to approach the task of getting rid of excess images. Before you download images, review your collection to individually remove any images and videos you don’t want to save — duplicates, blurry or badly exposed shots, screen shots, and any memory you don’t want to keep. If you have thousands of photos archived on Flickr, the fewer you have to download the better.
Download images from the Camera Roll
- Log into Flickr using your Yahoo account.
- Go to the Camera Roll (You > Camera Roll).
- Click Select all.
- Click Download in the pop-up screen.
- The photo set downloads at full resolution as a Zip file.
- Expand the Zip file and label the folder with subject and date for saving to a backup hard drive or photo album of your choice.
You can download as many sets as you want simultaneously, but too many images at once may cause the process to stall. If you have extremely large sets with thousands of photos, you may need to organize them into smaller albums to ensure a smooth download.
Download selected albums of images
This download method maintains the photo’s database number and photo name, if you named it, and saves EXIF metadata. This method does not save comments, favorites, notes, and tags. Individual photos get only a Flickr database ID.
- Go to You > Albums and hover over any album you want to download until you see a download icon.
- Click to create a Zip file.
- Download the Zip file when it’s done.
Download all Flickr photos and data
Flickr has a new way for you to remove all your photos in one shot. If you have a sizable collection, it could take several days, but the advantage is that not only does it download in full resolution, but also includes JSON (https://json.org) text files that record contacts, tags, likes, and comments in addition to the EXIF data that Flickr always included in a download file. Just go to Settings >Your Flickr Data >Request Flickr Data.
When Flickr is done gathering your files, it will send an email letting you know your Zip files are ready for download. It took two days to process 15,000 or so images and videos in 30 Zip files from my Flickr account.
The downloaded files include all your lists, groups, and comments and a specific JSON file for each photo or video. It’s not a perfect setup, but at least you can access all your sitewide information, which is good for people who took time to name and comment on photos or who joined groups over the years.
Use a third-party app to download your photos
Flickr’s updated download utility is so flexible and complete that it supersedes older third-party Flickr download apps — like Bulkr (http://getbulkr.com), a free Adobe Air-based app that hooks directly into your Flickr account, or the free Flickr Downloader (https://flickrdownloadr.com), which provides a good deal of that functionality, including limited JSON text files. Bulkr’s free version is no better than downloading directly from Flickr, plus you have to pay Bulkr a premium for original resolution and to access tags, titles and descriptions.
Upload your photos to another storage service
Flickr isn't the only place where you can park your photos online. Here are several other photo storage and sharing sites, each with their own features. Here's what you get with the free version of each.
500px: lets you upload up to seven photos per week and store up to 2,000 in total.
Facebook: Unlimited uploads, but it compresses images.
Photobucket: 2GB of storage, but with lots of ads.
Canon Irista: 15GB of storage
Apple iCloud: 5GB of storage
Google Photos: Unlimited space and uploads, but photos can be stored at a maximum resolution of 16MP and video at 1080p.
Dropbox: 2GB of storage.
How to delete your Flickr account
After you’ve removed all your photos from Flickr, you can close your Flickr account if you want. You do not have to close your account, nor do you have to close your Yahoo account if you leave Flickr, though many people maintained a Yahoo account over the years only because it was linked to their Flickr account. If you delete your Yahoo account, your Flickr account automatically goes with it — an easy way to close out Flickr. SmugMug is developing a new login procedure which it promises will be ready by early 2019, so if you were keeping Yahoo around on account of Flickr, that soon will no longer be necessary.
- Log in
- Click your avatar and click Settings.
- Click the Delete Your Flickr Account button.
- Review the information, and then click OK-Next.
- Type in your password.
- Check Yes, I Fully Understand.
- Click Delete My Account.
Or pay for a Flickr Pro account
For $50 per year, Flickr offers a number of features in addition to allowing you to store and view as many photos and videos as you want, ad-free. Advanced stats let you see the popularity of your photos, how many views they got at any given time, and which ones are trending. A pro account also includes an uploader for both desktop and mobile, which lets you automatically upload new photos from your smartphone, hard drive, Dropbox, Photos app and other sources. New users can join SmugMug at a one-year 50 percent discount.
Pro subscribers also get assorted perks and discounts, including 15 percent off the price of an Adobe Creative Cloud account, $35 off four photo book purchases from Blurb per year for orders of $70, and a free photo “chat book” every year. Pro members can use the service to promote their photography business, including linking directly to a shopping cart, checkout page, or pricing pages on various sites, or by listing prices for images in Flickr photo descriptions.