Flickr exports, fixup tool plan

Ahead of the Great Deletion, Flickr has a decent export tool built in to the user settings page. You click the export button, wait a day or two for an email, and then get some ZIP files to download.

I posted a little summary of what’s in the exports on Metafilter. Long story short, I think it’s pretty much all the data and metadata Flickr has. Here’s an expanded version of it:


  • 4 zip files are my photos
  • Photos are in JPG format with EXIF tags. I’m not positive but I believe these are the original bits I uploaded from my camera, or something similar. There is a lot of EXIF data intact.
  • Filenames are the title of the photo (downcased) plus the photo’s Flickr ID
  • File timestamps are bogus dates in 2013/2014


  •  1 zip file with a bunch of JSON files
  • Most of the JSON files are one file per photo that includes Flickr metadata. Photo title, description, time, tags, geotags, comments on the photo, etc.
  • Several other JSON files with things like all the comments I’ve made, JSON data for my photo albums (a collection of photos), etc

Edit: a caveat on the geo top level field. This seems to be set even if the photo was never properly geotagged via the Flickr map tool or with EXIF tags. It looks like it’s set to the location of the computer that uploaded the photo?!

Conversion tool plan

I’m not aware of any tools that do much with this Flickr metadata, but I haven’t looked hard. I’ve considered writing my own minimal one with an eye towards extracting all the most important metadata from the JSON and stuffing it in EXIF tags. Ideally the resulting JPG files would then look reasonable when imported into Google Photos and/or Lightroom. Some specifics:

  • Set the JPG filename from the JSON photo title more nicely than Flickr did
  • Set the JPG file timestamp to the creation date in the EXIF data. If there is no EXIF timestamp, then take something from the Flickr JSON.
  • Insert Flickr’s JSON geotags from the photo into an EXIF geotag (if one doesn’t exist). I geocoded a bunch of photos by hand in Flickr, I’d really like to preserve that data
  • Insert Flickr’s JSON name and description tags into the EXIF in appropriate textual fields.
  • Insert Flickr’s tags into the EXIF; is there an appropriate field?
  • Capture Flickr comments from the JSON into the EXIF?
  • Flickr JSON has a “people” tag but I don’t think I’ve ever used it.


A year later I never got around to doing this “right”. Instead I just took the _o original files from the Flickr export and renamed them a bit, turning the dash and underscores into spaces. Then uploaded. Google Photos seems to have done an OK job fishing dates, geotags, and some sort of descriptions out of whatever EXIF data Flickr had given me. I’m sure I lost any Flickr-specific data, like hand geocoded Flickr photos, comments, etc. Also there’s some problem with “photos already in Google Photos”, I’m not sure if it picked up any extra metadata. But mostly I got my pictures online.