Why the Flickr Mac Uploader needs to stop auto-creating albums

Recently, Flickr introduced a Mac Uploader application, promoting the idea that with 1TB of free storage, Mac users could now store a copy of all their photos at Flickr, conveniently and automatically. In the interest of redundancy, I installed the Mac Uploader, and pointed it to the “Photos Library.photoslibrary” package file that’s managed by Photos.app.

Soon afterwards, I discovered a potential show-stopper in my use of the Flickr Mac Uploader—it auto-creates a Flickr album for every sub-folder it finds within the local folders it monitors. So today, in this tweet, I mentioned that if Flickr do not change this behavior, I’ll have to stop using the Uploader.

The folks manning the lines at @FlickrHelp responded in a way that would suggest that they do not understand the distinction between how people locally manage their photos, and how people want to use Flickr.

Flickr needs to understand the following:

  1. People commonly store their photos locally in a folder hierarchy. That folder hierarchy contains all their photos.
  2. People commonly use Flickr as a place to create a curated set of albums. These curated albums represent a subset of the person’s photos.

FlickHelp’s response would suggest that their expectation is that all my photos are stored locally in one big, flat folder.

In my case, within Photos.app on my Mac, I organize my photos into albums like, “2015-06 Trip to Granada”. At the filesystem level (inside the package file), Photos.app then stores the Master files in a sub-folder with the same name.

Historically, after organizing my new photos in contextually logical albums in Photos.app, I’ve always then selected a curated sub-set of these photos—generally no more than 30—and uploaded just those into a new album at Flickr, for personal enjoyment and sharing.

So whereas my local photo storage contained all my photos, Flickr has always been the place for just the best.

But the problem now is that the Flickr Mac Uploader sees all these sub-folders created by Photos.app in its local storage, and then auto-creates albums at Flickr, completely breaking the fundamental purpose for which I’ve always used Flickr. Now, my Flickr albums now containing all my photos, instead of just the best!

Hopefully this now explains the situation, and hopefully this makes its way in front of whoever at Flickr has the authority to make a change, and remove the behavior in the Mac Uploader of auto-creating albums, or at least provides a preference to disable that behavior.


Update — Having read my article, the folks @FlickrHelp replied with a suggestion that I point the Flickr Uploader to a folder called, “Best”:

I get that they are trying to be friendly and helpful, but after reading this, I’m now almost certain that the people behind @FlickrHelp neither manage their own photos, nor use the Flickr service. In a nutshell, here’s what he (or she) is suggesting:

  1. I create a local folder called, “Best”, and point the Flickr Uploader to it.
  2. Within that folder “Best”, I create sub-folders for the albums I want in Flickr.
  3. From within Photos.app, I export the photos I want in Flickr to those album sub-folders in my “Best” folder.
  4. Flickr Uploader then uploads those photos, creating my desired albums.

And here are the two obvious issues that anyone familiar with photo management and/or Flickr would immediate understand:

  1. This suggestion kills Flickr’s own promoted benefit, of putting all your photos in the service.
  2. If I only want a subset of my photos in Flickr, using the on-demand Flickr uploader that’s built into apps like Photos.app would be infinitely more convenient than the process described above!

11 thoughts on “Why the Flickr Mac Uploader needs to stop auto-creating albums”

  1. I have a similar problem, because I keep my photos organized in year/month/day, so the Flickr Uploadr creates a new album for each day, called e.g. “13 (21)” for the 21st uploaded day 13 of any month! I now have hundreds of meaningless albums and am looking for an an easy way to remove them.

      1. Yes, but that would create the same number of albums that for me are completely uninteresting.

        Instead I created a simple python script for removing all albums named like that, which I can run whenever I want to.

    1. So far, I’ve heard nothing. In fact, I’ve simply disabled it and will no longer use Flickr as a backup for ALL my photos, and will just continue to publish curated sets there. (For full backups, I’m now using Google Photos.)

  2. you are |right| ! they are dumbass. I’m sure it’s very easy to develop the support for that. However, even before using Flickr, I tag my folders as YYYY_MM_DD_subject so it’s much better, but still annoying.

      1. I ask since that was my experience trying the program this week. I’ve seen some other users have the same problem based on their comments on Flickr.

  3. You stated it nicely, Matt, and I agree – Flickr doesn’t get it. I have a system for all my photos and now Flickr is requiring me to completely undo it! I have over 200,5000 images in my complete collection of which only 18,000 are on Flickr. Yes, I could create a separate BEST mater folder but that would be a major duplication of effort and totally unnecessary. This would dramatically increase my hard drive storage requirements or require that I remove my ‘best’ images out of the master storage folder and place them in a separate ‘best’ master. Since I maintain my master collection by date of capture, this would add a level of complexity I neither want nor need. – Ken Osborn, [email protected]

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