Flickr recently made some changes to its free account that makes it harder for users to upload collections of images unless they upgrade to a Pro subscription.  If this is cause enough for you to jump ship to another photo service such as Google Photos or Smugmug, then there are a few to choose from. In this feature we’ll show you how to move photos from Flickr and find them a new home.

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How to move photos from Flickr: What has Flickr changed?

Flickr recently announced that its very useful Uploader feature, one that allows you to backup entire photo libraries from Dropbox, iPhoto, local hard drives, and other services, would no longer be available for free accounts. You can still of course upload images to the site, but this will now be achieved manually rather than by the conveniently automated way that Uploader allowed.

Before you go to the hassle of moving all your photos though it’s worth considering the fact that Flickr still continues to offer 1TB of free storage for your images, and any photos you take on your mobile devices will still automatically upload if you have the feature turned on.

The Pro account is hardly a rip-off either, as it offers the Uploader, no-ads, advanced stats regarding who is viewing your photos, plus a twenty percent reduction in the cost of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite, all for around £4 per month.

If you’re already a Lightroom user then you’ll be able to continue using the free account with little noticeable difference, as the Lightroom’s own uploader can move collections on to Flickr without the need for a Pro account.

How to move photos from Flickr: Which services can I move to?

Enthusiast photographers

If you want something more than just a backup for mobile images then the two closest rivals to Flickr in terms of community and tools are Smugmug and 500PX. Of these two only 500PX has a free tier, but this is limited to twenty uploads per week. There’s a strong emphasis on licensing photos through the 500PX Marketplace so you can make money from your creations. Judging by the high quality of examples on display, this is certainly a place populated by those serious about photography.

Upgrading to the 500PX Plus account costs roughly £1.40 per month, although you’ll need to pay the first year upfront. This allows you to have unlimited uploads and advanced statistics, which is a very reasonable deal. The best part is that for the first fourteen days of your account you have access to all the premium features, including unlimited uploads. So if you plan it right you can move your whole library and still have access to it after the trial period ends and you revert back to a free account.

Move your photos from Flickr

Smugmug is very similar in tone, although instead of a free tier you get a 14-day free trial instead. After that you can opt for the Basic package that offers unlimited storage, a dedicated, customisable website, and various sharing options, all for a slightly more costly £28 a year. Both Smugmug and 500PX come in cheaper than the Flickr Pro account, which amounts to around £35 for the year. So it’s worth giving some thought to where you want your aspiring photography career to reside.

Casual photographers

If all you’re after is a place to backup your photos, maybe from your smartphone or if you occasionally take shots when you’re on holiday, then Flickr is still a solid choice. Remember that the free account retains its 1TB of storage, plus the automatic upload feature on your phone or tablet will continue to work.

For those not constantly taking hundreds of shots, the manual uploading of images to Flickr shouldn’t be too much of a chore. Especially if you don’t want to go through the inconvenience of switching platforms. It might even give you the impetus to be more selective of the images you save, thus improving your portfolio along the way.

Of course, if you want to move to a free service then the most obvious platform currently around is Google Photos. This offers the ability to upload libraries, plus if you take pictures with a point and shot or mobile device then you should have unlimited storage. Those who prefer a DSLR or very high quality images will use up the storage allocated to their Google Drive account (which is free to set up and starts at 15GB).

In fact any cloud storage service will provide a place to store your collection, and with some many offering multiple GBs of free storage we recommend using a few different ones so that you have more than one backup of your images. Check out our guide to the best online storage services for more details.

How to move photos from Flickr: Moving to Google Photos

Step 1: Download your Flickr Library

The first thing you’ll need to do is download your images from Flickr. This is reasonably simple: just navigate to the Albums section on your Flickr page, move your mouse over an album and you’ll see an arrow icon appear in the bottom right corner. Click this to download the contents. Repeat these steps until all of your photos are on your hard drive.

Move your photos from Flickr

Step 2: Get the Google Photos Backup application

Go to https://photos.google.com/apps and you’ll see a button that will download the Dekstop Uploader for Google Photos. Click this and when the .exe file has downloaded double click it to install the program.

Move your photos from Flickr

Step 3: Select which photos to backup

Once the program is installed and you’ve entered your Google account details, you’ll be presented with a window asking you to choose your backup sources. The initial settings will automatically include pictures from any attached camera or storage device such as an SD card, the Desktop, and the My Pictures folder. To include specific destinations you just need to click the Add button and navigate to the relevant folder. If you haven’t already unzipped the Flickr albums you downloaded, do so now and then select the folder. 

Move Photos from Flickr

Step 4: Select the image quality

Below the destinations box you’ll see the Photo size section. In here you can choose between High Quality (usually smartphone or point and shoot camera level) or Original (larger files that are generated by DSLR cameras). If you choose High Quality then the storage is free, whereas Original will count against your Google Drive storage.

Move photos from Flickr

Step 5: Back up your photos

Once you’ve got the image settings and destinations sorted out click the Start Backup button at the bottom of the page and your images will begin to make their way to their new Google flavoured home. 

Move photos from Flickr

Step 6: Browsing your pictures

Now whenever you want to upload new images or view your existing library, go to the task bar at the bottom of your screen, click on the up arrow in the right hand corner, then click on the Google Photos icon to see the options available to you. Don't forget you can also head to photos.google.com to see your library in any web browser, and you can install the Google Photos app on your iPhone or Android - it will back up your photos and videos (which makes it a better alternative to iCloud for many iPhone users).

Move your photos from Flickr

That's it you're all done. Your photos have a new home and it's time to go out and take some more. Happy shooting.