Flickr is a popular photo blogging service used by professional and amateur photographers. Flickr helps you archive your photos in the cloud and share them publicly with others. What happens if Flickr is the only place where you can find your photos?

I hadn't thought much of that contingency. I have been a Flickr user since the Yahoo Days - 2014. I recently took stock of all the photos I had uploaded to Flickr and realized something disturbing: I didn't have any of these images on my PC. It's been 5 years and probably 3 computers since then, so it didn't surprise me that some photos had slipped through.

I decided to prevent better than to be cured. I wanted to back up my entire Flickr library to make sure I had everything. I want to pass on here what I have learned.

Flickr’s Camera Roll and Album Download-options

Most Flickr workflows - and most of their supported apps - focus on getting images on Flickr, niet van Flickr. That does not mean that you cannot download images from Flickr, but it is not easy.

You can download photos directly from Flickr using their camera roll view, which organizes all your photos on the date they were taken. This is the Flickr file management interface, which allows you to select photos for any use you want. Once you have selected the desired photos using the check boxes, Flickr creates a zip file that you can download. You are limited to 500 photos at a time, so this can take several repetitions if you have many photos.

Camera Roll
Camera Roll
Selected photos with download option

You can also download Flickr albums. Just like the film roll limit, you are limited to the number of photos you can download. In the case of albums, the limit is 5000 files from albums at a time.

Flickr download album selection dialog:

Album Selectie

Guidelines from the Flickr help page:


Third-party apps

Some third-party app makers have used the Flickr API to create various import and export services and apps.

Bulkr is such an app. With the free downloadable app you can download images from your Flickr library with the push of a button. It depends on Adobe Flash and requires Adobe AIR. Some features are not available unless you pay for the "Pro" version ($ 29).


Flickr downloadr is another free app that lets you download your Flickr library. It also works on Mac, Windows and Linux systems. No license fees to download additional content - this is released as open source.

Flickr downloader photo browser

I have tried both of them in my library of more than 3500 images. In both cases, I just set up the apps and had them run - it took a while, a few hours to get everything. So if you are working with a large archive of Flickr images, I recommend that you free up some time when you can make your computer work.

What to do with your Flickr images

You have downloaded the images to your local hard drive. What now? Catalog what you have. Both Macs and PCs contain such software. The apps for each platform are both called "Photos." They have the advantage that they are free, built-in and well supported using existing tools and workflows.

If the Photos apps that came with your computer are not suitable for you, there are other commercial app options. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is one of the more popular options that work with both Macs and Windows PCs. It is included with the Creative Cloud Photography subscription of € 9.99 per month (bundled with Photoshop) or you can purchase it separately for € 149.

Archive your backup

Now that you have downloaded all your Flickr images, you must ensure that they are safe by backing them up. Backup them locally using Time Machine (on the Mac), Windows Backup or whatever your preference.

Even though you've received the images from the cloud by downloading them from Flickr, it's a good idea to save a backup copy offsite in case. That is in line with the guidelines of the 3-2-1 backup strategy - a solid way to ensure that nothing bad can happen to your data. A 3-2-1 strategy means that you have at least 3 full copies of your data, 2 of which are local, but on different media (read: devices) and at least 1 on another copy.

Backup programs are great options, of course, for backing up and archiving your media, but the most important thing is to ensure that your photos are safe and healthy. If something happens to your computer or your local backup, you still have a safe copy of those precious memories.

Alfred Grupstra

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