Act Now Before Your Flickr Account Is Transferred

Flickr has been acquired by SmugMug, and the official date for the switchover is looming. Here is why now might be the time to back up everything, reach out to all your followers, and maybe think about deleting your account forever.

This has nothing to do with SmugMug itself, but more to do with the uncertainty that comes when any company is bought by another. It's very unlikely that the terms and conditions, privacy policies, security measures, and planned trajectory will match up identically with the original company you first signed up with. In the case of SmugMug, I'm sure once they take over, those policies will be better than any of the more recent owners that Flickr has had. I do, however, think that in light of recent data scandals from the likes of Facebook, we all have become a little more cautious about the amount of data we give away to these big companies as we've also grown more skeptical about the true intentions of any business move.

It's for these reasons (and because I hardly use Flickr these days) I have decided to back up all my pictures from the site and delete my account permanently before the deadline of May 25, 2018. This is the moment when Flickr accounts and their data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug's terms and privacy policies instead. I actually think that SmugMug may be grateful for users such as myself who have no intention of ever using their services, as it might just help save them some space on their servers. One report from a few years back had Flickr down as having shared more than 10 billion images on the site, which means SmugMug is going to be taking over quite a bit of data.

Even if you are intending to continue with Flickr, now would still be a good time to consider backing everything up from the site while it's still fairly easy to do. All places online are susceptible to data loss, file corruption, and security breaches; and although I'm sure SmugMug has no plans to delete your account any time soon, why not take this moment to make sure you have copies of everything that you have on there.

Downloading All Your Work From Flickr

If you try to download your images according to the several guides I read before writing this article, you'll still be there trying to download everything this time next year. Instead of navigating to the camera roll and painfully clicking on each and every month to download images from those months, I have found a much easier way.

Click on "You" in the menu bar and then select "Organize," where you will be taken to the "Batch Organize" tab.

Make sure "All Your Content" is selected from the drop-down menu in the bottom left-hand corner and then, just below that, you will see a text button which says, "Select All". After pressing this, you should see all the thumbnails at the bottom of the screen become highlighted pink.

Next, click on "Add to album" and select "New album" from the drop-down menu in the center of the screen.

Give your album a name and hit "Save."

Once you have everything in an album, it's just a matter of navigating to the particular album page by clicking on "You" and then down to "Albums."

Here, in the middle of the page, you will see a download button which you should click on.

Flickr will then ask you if you would like them to zip everything up and send you a download link via their built-in messaging system, FlickrMail. I found that my download link came almost instantly, although I'm guessing this may vary depending on the size of your file and the number of requests the site is currently dealing with.

Deleting Your Flickr Account

Before you delete your account, it might be worth making one final post on the site telling anyone who follows you that you are deleting your account in the next few days. If you leave a list of alternative ways for people to stay in touch with you in the description, you'll hopefully find that some of them will come find you on those other channels.

Once you have decided it's time to call it quits on Flickr and are happy everything is backed up, it will only take a minute to close your account for good. Click on your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of any Flickr page and press on "Settings."

The next page which loads is the Account Settings page where you will see in the Account section the option to "delete your Flickr account."

Flickr makes it very clear that what you are about to do is final and irreversible. If you are happy to delete your account at this stage, all you need to do is press the "Ok - Next" button at the bottom of the screen, where you will be asked to enter your password to complete the process. If you have followed these steps correctly, you will now no longer have a Flickr account.

I will actually be sad to see my Flickr account go after having one for the last 12 years, but for me, the time to close my account is well overdue. I'm sure it will feel quite liberating to have one less social media platform to worry about. While some SEO experts may think I am throwing away good backlinks by permanently removing my profile off the site, I personally would rather have images from more up-to-date and relevant sources showing up at the top of image search results and website listings. Only time will tell if my fairly decent SEO suffers as a result.

I will close in a similarly cautious vein to how I began by saying that I struggle to see how any company can purchase another company (for what must have been a sizable amount) without planning to make money from it at some point. While those financial intentions are more than acceptable, I'd rather not stick around continuing to not use the platform to maybe one day receive an email informing me of some new mandatory price plan rolling in. I'd also rather not hear in a few years' time about another possible sale of Flickr to some new owners whose intentions are less than favorable. Like many other people, I'm trying to declutter my digital life; and for that reason, now feels like a good time for me to call it a day. Thanks for all the memories Flickr. It's been a blast.

What do you make of SmugMug buying Flickr? Do you think I am doing the right thing by deciding to delete my account? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Lead image by Moose Photos via Pexels.

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Previous comments
John Abbey's picture

Nope. Has nothing to do with size. It's 3.2 GB by the way. Say you have an album that contains x numbers ( though under 5000 thats the limit as stated by flickr ) of photos but the whole album is say 3.6 GB. It will even split the downloaded album into two zip files. But I cant unzip/ open the freakin folders. Its not a name thing either nor whether album contains video or not. tried it all....bummer

Paul Parker's picture

Really sorry to hear that John and thanks for getting back to me.

I'm clutching at straws here but have you tried on a different computer? Mac or Pc?

Mine was on a Mac. Have you tried maybe just zipping up 5 unimportant images and getting someone else to download the Zip?

Paul Parker's picture looks like it is 4 GB

Daniel Medley's picture

Sky falling much?

One thing that an amazing number of people fail to realize is that Flickr and SmugMug are two completely different things. Flickr is mostly a sharing/community site. While SmugMug is more a gallery site; mainly used for portfolio display.

As far as what Flickr is, there is not really much else out there. It's a grand building that has been allowed to fall into disrepair. If people actually look at this from a rational point of view, it would make zero business sense for SmugMug to purchase Flickr only to roll it into its current business model. Zero sense. However, if one puts on their thinking cap it's obvious to see that the grand building that is Flickr has a ton of potential to be invested in and built up to not only its former glory but something more. It's a perfect candidate as an entity to be ran in TANDEM with SmugMug; two separate pieces fitting quite nicely together.

I belong to a couple of fairly active groups on Flickr that are quite enjoyable and are amazingly useful. There is no other sharing site that even comes close to the community experience of Flickr. If you absolutely don't use Flickr at all, yeah, you may have nothing to gain or lose from jumping ship. However, for most people a wait and see approach is more reasonable. as there is a lot to potentially gain and pretty much zero to lose.

Paul Parker's picture

I truly hope you get your vision of Flickr and I wish no ill harm to either company. If Smugmug does invest in Flickr as you say (and invests heavily) to resuscitate it, you should be prepared that Smugmug will want to recoup their investment and more.

I agree with you that a wait and see approach is probably the best thing to do. Doesn't stop you acting now to back everything up on there...

Ryan Mense's picture

I took action by uploading some more photos.

Paul Parker's picture

haha, you madman, just think of the servers will you!

Timothy Turner's picture

With all the controversy about facebook, since facebook has recently aquired instagram, maybe we should delete instagram and not flickr.

Paul Parker's picture

It's a valid point Timothy, I think we are all more cautious about who has our data these days and that can only be a good thing. I plan on continuing to declutter my digital life...

Timothy Turner's picture

Thanks for the reply, however I would not delete my Instagram account, the quality of the photography from many members is amazing, and I also find many articles on Fstoppers to be useful as well.

Oluwaseun Asade's picture

This article makes no sense, why delete your flickr account, they've already posted on Flickr the transtion will be seemless, why this woe is me write up ? You didn't like flickr, good , why the woe is me article ?

Paul Parker's picture

Hi Oluwaseun, the transition may be seamless, but your details are still being passed onto yet another company. People who are fed up with their data being handed around might prefer to delete their account before the change. Hence the article.

I do actually like Flickr. It's just time for me to leave. I explain why above.

David Tothill's picture

I thought this article was brilliant ! I have loved Flickr and will probably also like what SmugMug do with it, but hey, sitting on my arse doing nothing didn't feel right, so I followed the clear instructions and yeah. I'm ready to walk out the door if it all turns sour.

Paul Parker's picture

Thanks David, and great to hear you are prepared. I really hope Flickr gets back on its feet and I genuinely believe SmugMug are the people to do it. That said, sometimes business and profits can get in the way of good intentions. Nothing wrong with taking a few precautions now. It's a win-win!

Matthias Dengler's picture

Thanks a lot for the walkthrough for the backup.
That was really useful and easy :)
Other than that, I will stay with flickr, as this platform is the only that constantly interacts with me.
I landed already several interviews and publications through flickr. For me, it's by far the best photo community. I don't think, Smugmug will now change everything about it. Instagram is by far worse! I haven't made any business through that app.

Darrin Price's picture

I come to fstoppers as a resource of useful and impartial information and articles. This is neither. I am more likely to delete my fstoppers account after reading this than anything else.

Suki Zoe's picture

Flickr locked me out of my account 8 years ago, after losing/deleting thousands of my images. I have had zero customer service in all that time - other than to ask me for more money - yes, I had a paid account.
I've been with Smugmug for years - their customer service has been consistently exceptional.

Ian Aberle's picture

One thing you missed is there is a limit to the number of images that can be downloaded at once. Only up to 500 photos are allowed - at least from the Camera Roll. I'm now trying your way, but I have over 4000 and it is taking some time for them to even be saved to a single album.

You also mentioned SEO. I think this is one of the best reasons to keep those photos on Flickr. For years, Flickr has been one of the best sites for publicly sharing images and SEO has been a large part of that. Plus, the collection of creative commons images is unmatched with any other photo sharing site.

Christopher Jeffries's picture

Paul Adshead Thanks for the article - good tips! You deserve an award for how you've handled the detractors; great job at keeping it civil.

Paul Parker's picture

Thanks Christopher, I appreciate the kind words. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I'm sure many wouldn't speak in person the way they do online...

NY Photographers's picture

There is a much better alternative to flickr - it is called PhotoALBM. I know about it because I'm a founder and CEO of this company. I started building it as a flickr alternative 2 years ago when I realized that Yahoo started firing Flickr developers. In tech world it means that nothing good is going to happen to the service. I was right.

The new CEO in his opening statement to the entire community, made it very clear that he has no idea what to do with the service. Here is what he said to 100 million people in 63 countries who were eager to hear about the future:

"I don't know what the future holds. This is a new model for me…" Then, MacAskill (the new CEO) added, "It sounds silly for the CEO not to totally know what he's going to do, but we haven't built SmugMug on a master plan either."

What can I say, he's ain't Steve Jobs. This guy spent 16 years working with photographers and he still has no clue what they need... Does it sound normal to you? What are the chances that this "Leader" will get flickr out of the gutter?

So, if you want to try our alternative, please follow this link to read my open letter to the flickr community:

Dan Marchant's picture

Makes no sense to delete your account because something might happen... even if you don't use it. The new management may be great and you decide to come back. Better to wait and see and make a decision when you actually have the facts.

Meri Walker's picture

Paul, I so appreciate your careful instructions about how to download albums from Flickr. I've made the albums I need but I never can get them downloaded. The albums are broken into parts 1,2,3,4 and only the first part downloads. The other parts get endless "failed-network errors" and when I went into the Flickr forums, it appears this is not happening just to me but to lots of other folks. Do you know how to get larger albums to download - or how to contact someone AT Flickr who can give directions? I can't find a way to contact a live human being and all I find in the forums is unanswered messages from folks who seem to be having the same trouble as I.

Paul Parker's picture

Really sorry to hear that Meri, I think maybe reaching out to SmugMug's team would be a good idea.

All the best

John Dynia's picture

I think you have done the right thing for you. Flickr was never more than a "parking lot" for me. I never saw any social media aspect to it. While I haven't closed my account I have downloaded all my images and I haven't added any since the announcement. What concerns me about the acquisition is Smug mug's statement that they have no idea what they will do in the future, just that nothing will change for the moment. A company that acquires another without a plan is just so illogical to me that I cannot believe that their statement is true. What is the most valuable asset that Flickr had? Data, the only important asset in the online community. Could they do away with the free accounts? Sure they could but that is of small value compared to all the data on millions of people that they hold and looking at their user agreement, own.

Paul Parker's picture

Thanks for your comment John, we are definitely on the same page when it comes to this topic. Great to hear you have downloaded everything important already.

Let's see what comes of Flickr in the coming months...

Jasmine Windom's picture

So what do you think about the news Flickr put out today about the limits on the free accounts to 1000 pics and the PRO accounts being charged double to $49.99?

Paul Parker's picture

Great question Jasmine, I think the 1000 pic limit will help clean up the site but the fact they are gonna delete any pictures over this limit for free accounts is criminal IMO. I'm also not surprised they doubled the cost. What do you think about it all??

frank alan kirkbright's picture

I just tried this and when I selected all i got a message saying there was a problem getting data from the server. Any ideas ?

Paul Parker's picture

I think maybe reaching out to SmugMug's team would be a good idea.

All the best