Facilitating a friendly breakup between iPhoto and Flickr

In the 6 years I’ve been using Flickr I’ve used a variety of different methods to upload photos: the Uploadr for both PC and Mac, the updated web interface, and most recently, iPhoto. Uploading via iPhoto 11 seemed great at first (and a huge improvement over doing so with iPhoto 9): I could add all my titles, descriptions, tags and (corrected when necessary) location data, hit share, wait for the upload, then I was done.

Then the problems started.

I knew that iPhoto was not just uploading to Flickr, but syncing with it. I understood that if I deleted a photo from iPhoto it would also disappear from Flickr, but this wasn’t going to be a problem because I didn’t intend to delete anything from iPhoto if I liked it enough to put it on Flickr.

What was a problem was that iPhoto was happily syncing files in the other direction – copying images from my first 5 years of Flickr use to my SSD. Duplicating photos I already had stored on my laptop and consuming valuable SSD space. This might have been useful if it was pulling all the titles and descriptions too, but it wasn’t. When I stumbled across the duplicated photos (by viewing the last image in the Photos view and hitting the right arrow key) I checked the info and all I got was a message that said “This photo was downloaded from your Flickr account.” I tested what would happen if I deleted one of the downloaded photos: it got wiped from Flickr too.

The next problem was that one day I noticed all the photos I’d uploaded via iPhoto were now appearing in a random order within their sets on Flickr. Not the order I uploaded them, not chronologically, not any order that made any sense. Since I hadn’t touched the sets in Flickr I could only surmise it was iPhoto doing something weird and tricksy behind the scenes.

These two problems being annoying and out of my control I decided to sever the link between iPhoto and Flickr. The problem with this was I’d read quite a few horror stories about entire Flickr collections being wiped when people tinkered with this connection. But, happily, after quite a lot of research (and a surprising amount of angst) I’ve been able to separate the two without losing anything (apart from the duplicates I wanted to ditch). This is how I did it:


Macintosh HD/Users/[username]/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary
Macintosh HD/Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPhoto.plist *
(If you’re using Lion you’ll need to make the Library folder visible first.)

2. Flickr:

Go to the Sharing & Extending section of your account Flickr account. Scroll down to “Account links” and click “edit”. Find “iPhoto OS X” and click “Remove permission?” next to it. Tick the checkbox and confirm your selection on the next page. Now iPhoto no longer has the power to do anything to your Flickr photos.

3. iPhoto:

Open your iPhoto preferences and choose “Accounts”. A message like this one will likely pop up:

iPhoto is no longer authorized

Hit “Cancel”. Select your Flickr account in the Accounts panel and hit the minus button underneath it. A message like this one should pop up:

Are you sure...

It’s only talking about removing the photos it downloaded from Flickr, it won’t touch images in your normal iPhoto library that you uploaded to Flickr. Leave the checkbox empty and hit “Remove”. The photos downloaded from Flickr will appear in iPhoto’s trash – empty it to get rid of them. (Then empty your OS trash for a permanent delete.)

Now your Flickr collection is safe, the duplicates are gone, and iPhoto and Flickr will have nothing more to do with each other. Hooray!

But, how now to upload anything? I think I’ll most likely be investing in Flickery which allows you to export your edited photos (with all their metadata) from iPhoto and do a one-way upload to Flickr without any of this syncing nonsense. (Uploading is also just a small part of what Flickery does, you can download a free trial via the website to check it out. On top of all this, the developer is super quick to respond to any queries and very helpful. )

* Why back up the preference file? This is where iPhoto’s connection with Flickr is saved. While experimenting with the above steps I restored my original iPhoto library after step 3 because I thought something had gone wrong. (It hadn’t.) This meant that the photos downloaded from Flickr were back but mostly hidden and unable to be deleted, and as far as iPhoto’s preferences were concerned the link with Flickr was already gone so I couldn’t repeat step 3 to push those downloaded files into the trash again. After much hair tearing I hit upon the idea of taking the iPhoto preference file from my external back up and copying it over the one on my laptop. This enabled me to go through step 3 again and delete those little suckers for good (freeing up almost 1GB of SSD space)!

MacBook Air, let me count the ways…

…that make me love you to pieces. :)

(Note: This is my first Apple computer. I was using PCs for at least 19 years before making the switch.)

  • Weight. 1kg vs my previous laptop which was 3kg.
  • Battery life. 3-5 hours of run time vs my previous laptop’s pitiful 10 minutes. (Even when it was new I only got a maximum of 2 hours.) And standby actually conserves battery life, whereas with my old laptop it seemed to consume basically as much power as when it was on.
  • Size. I have the 11″ model so screen size is compromised, but in return I get ultimate portability. The whole thing is about 50-60% smaller than the paper notebook I used to lug around uni.
  • Speed. 8GB of RAM and a solid state drive make a veeery nice combination.
  • Start up. The boot sequence takes only a fraction longer than waking from sleep and both are incredibly fast. It would take a good 10 minutes after turning on my old laptop before I could actually do anything with it.
  • iPhoto 11. Ah I just love it. It’s such an easy way of storing and viewing my photos, has basic but useful editing functions and communicates nicely with flickr.
  • A working wireless adaptor. My previous laptop decided to ignore the fact it had a physical wireless adaptor fairly regularly, requiring a restart to remind it that it was in fact there – no such problem any more.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. Now that I’m used to Mac OS shortcuts they are actually making my life easier. No more 5 key ALT sequences to produce special characters!
  • File search. Fast and very effective without any silly animated characters.
  • Connecting to other computers. It’s easy now! I never really worked out how to network my PC laptop to anything, and I don’t need to work it out with Mac OS because it’s just easy.

Things that I thought would bother me after moving from Windows to Mac OS but actually don’t:

  • Not being able to get to the desktop. I don’t even use the desktop for anything any more because I can access all the apps I need to from the dock or launchpad. If I do want to get to the desktop there’s a nifty gesture to throw all windows to the side, or I can hide everything for a neater look.
  • Not being able to access any window from the taskbar. My command-tabbing and command-tilde-ing are so natural now I don’t need to worry about it.
  • Programs not having a background. I usually hide everything except what I’m working in anyway (unless I want to accesss two different programs at once), and if I don’t want to see windows behind the current program I make it full screen.
  • Using Finder instead of Explorer. In the past I’ve always found Finder a bit fiddly but after a week of using it constantly I think I actually prefer it now. It’s just a matter of what you’re used to.

The only niggles, if anything:

  • Copying a file path and file name. I can’t seem to work out how to do this in one step – I seem to have to copy the path name and then the file name to create a complete link. Never mind, it’s not really essential.
  • Screen resolution. I can’t blame the laptop for this – my short-sightedness is getting progressively worse :'( and I find myself needing to zoom in on most web pages to be able to read them comfortably. At least I can zoom in, which is helpful – I just don’t like the fact that I need to. :P (Feels like it’s almost time for reading glasses, the thought of which I’ve always dreaded. I already have to wear one pair of glasses, I don’t want to have to wear two – or bifocals…)
  • Word processing. I don’t do a lot of word processing but I’m used to the control I have with Microsoft Office and I don’t think I’ll get that with Open Office. Then again, perhaps it won’t be too bad.
  • e-tax. The software used for completing an Australian tax return is still not available for Mac OS.