I shoot in JPEG (not a pro yet) and want to publish my photos in my pro account in flickr, is there a way to tell Lightroom 3 to upload my original untouched JPEGs?

In the Flickr Publish Service settings I've unchecked all modifying setings: the "Resize to Fit", "Sharpen For" and "Watermark" options, but I think the problem is the "File Settings->Quality" options which is at 75% and I can't disable it. My photos get uploaded and when I redownload the "original" file it is like 70% smaller than my true original and the quality is severely affected. I've also tried to set Quality to 0% and 100% (thinking they could be "special" values) with similar effects (at 100% the quality is fine for my untrained eye, but file size is bigger than my original, although I could live with it).

My rationale is that JPEG is a lossy compression format and having Lightroom to recompress them is a doubly lossy process (unless I set Quality to 100%, I guess).

But it would be better to simply tell Lightroom to upload the original file.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great first question! Welcome to the community. It is actually bigger than just Flckr, I am not sure LR can publish original untouched files to anywhere. I shoot JPEG (actually a pro) and agree that having quality mucked around unnecessarily is silly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jul 15, 2011 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Flickr is going to re-compress your images anyways, so it's kind of moot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fake Name
    Jul 15, 2011 at 8:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fake Name, I use flickr to share AND backup my photos. Having a pro account allows me to get the original image (untouched by flickr) whenever I want \$\endgroup\$
    – rogeliodh
    Jul 15, 2011 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Itai, do Jeffrey Friedl's plugins have the same behaviour? \$\endgroup\$
    – rogeliodh
    Jul 15, 2011 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rogelio - No idea, sorry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jul 17, 2011 at 0:18

3 Answers 3


Alright, so the answer is yes, I finally found out tonight. However, it involves editing your Catalog manually, I'll show how below. The other solution is to use Jeffrey's plugin. Read on.

I had forgotten about that problem until today. I was using Jeffrey Friedl's "Export to Flickr" plugin in Lightroom 3, then reverted back to Lightroom's default Flickr Publishing Service somewhere in the summer of 2010 it seems. A goddamn mistake, to say the least, as I'm realizing almost 2 years later that all my JPEGs have been aggressively recompressed on the fly before being uploaded to Flickr from LR (using 60% compression ratio, ugh). I guess there was a good reason I had been using Jeffrey's plugin, after all.

Why LR is always recompressing is mind boggling, considering the Publishing Service API does support setting File Settings -> Image Format to Original as opposed to JPEG. However, as you probably noticed, the Image Format menu is disabled in the default Flickr Publishing Service, I have no clue why. That option is available in Jeffrey's plugin, and sure enough, once you set it to Original you will notice LR will not create a recompressed copy of your JPEG anymore, it will just upload the original. So that's your SAFE solution, and it's pretty much free.

Now if you want to keep using LR's default Flickr publishing service, here is how. It involves editing your Catalog file, finding the Flickr service settings, and adding the missing Image Format = Original option back. Easy enough actually but do it at your own risk.

  1. First thing first, locate your catalog file (Lightroom 4 Catalog.lrcat on Windows) and do make a backup copy before editing anything.
  2. Make sure Lightroom is closed. Your catalog is a SQLite database, open it with any SQLite editor, I used SQLiteSpy, which is free. Go to File -> Open Database, switch the File Type to Any File (*.*) and select your catalog file. You will notice a long list of tables (about 67 in my catalog). Double-click on a table name to display its contents in the right panel.
  3. The AgLibraryPublishedCollection table contains the list of publishing services. There is a column name where you should be able to spot the name of your default Flickr service. There is also a column genealogy, write down that value for your Flickr service. Mine was, for example:

    name: Flickr (sebastien.b)
    genealogy: /71357400
  4. Now look at the AgLibraryPublishedCollectionContent table and find the rows which collection column value ends with the genealogy value above. I had 3 such rows. Each row has a content column. One of the row contains all your default Flickr publishing service settings in one big serialized string. For example:

    id_local: 1357404
    collection: 1357400
    content: s = {
      ["com.adobe.lightroom.export.flickr_addToPhotoset"] = false,
      ["com.adobe.lightroom.export.flickr_fullname"] = "Sébastien B.",
      exportServiceProviderTitle = "Flickr",
      export_videoFileHandling = "include",
      extensionCase = "lowercase",
      jpeg_limitSize = 100,
      jpeg_quality = 0.6,
      jpeg_useLimitSize = false,
  5. I only displayed a few settings above, the list is much longer. Note the JPEG settings above (0.6 = 60%), this should look familiar. Now if you were to peek at the settings for Jeffrey's publishing service on the other hand, you would have found this extra key in content:

    id_local: 2219231
    collection: 2219228
    content: s = {
      extensionCase = "lowercase",
      format = "ORIGINAL",
  6. Again, I only displayed a few settings above. My point is, format is the missing key from the default Flickr publishing service. So go back to the row that had your default Flickr settings, and edit the content cell (I think you need to double-click on the cell, see screenshot). Add format = "ORIGINAL", to the list of settings, don't forget the comma. You can put it at the end, or after the extensionCase setting, it doesn't matter. Close the cell, close SQLiteSpy.
  7. Launch Lightroom. Go to your Flickr publishing service. You will not see any difference, the Image Format menu will still be disabled, and the JPEG option will still appear to be selected. However, it works, your original file will be used. Publish a photo, then go to Flickr, download the original size, and it should match the size on disk (minus a few bytes depending on the metadata you are exporting). If you want to be sure, set the Quality setting to 5; if your original is not used, it will be so aggressively compressed you should notice immediately. However, you need to change that setting before that hack, which leads me to...
  8. Do not edit your Flickr service settings anymore! That's the only issue with that solution, as soon as you edit your settings from Lightroom, it will overwrite the content key we just edited and remove the format setting we added. If you need to make a change, then just re-add format using SQLiteSpy.

There you go.

enter image description here


Don't believe you can tell LR to do that.

Regardless of whether you import raw or JPEG into LR, LR will always export derivatives of your originals, never the originals themselves.

While LR is good at managing libraries of images, my take is that LR assumes you want to make modifications to jpegs that you've imported, otherwise why import them. This assumption doesn't really apply to raw images, since you'll always be exporting a final result that is in a different file format from the original.

  • \$\begingroup\$ LR can export the original "negatives", though I don't believe it can do so to Flickr. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2011 at 17:31

This isn't possible: as others have said, Lightroom will only export copies that include any editing changes you've made in Lightroom. (Even if you haven't made any edits it will still create a copy.)

Of course, you can always use the Flickr Uploadr or the upload page to get your originals to Flickr. The only reason I can see for using Lightroom but wanting to upload original JPEGs is:

  • You want to use Lightroom to catalog, tag and organise your pictures
  • You'd like Lightroom to also "know" which photos are on Flickr (e.g. so you can filter a folder or collection to show only those pictures you've uploaded).

The good news is you can still achieve this, using Jeffrey Friedl's excellent Export to Flickr plug-in. The required workflow is very simple:

  • Upload your original JPEG using the Flickr Uploadr or the upload page
  • In Lightroom, go to File > Plug-in Extras > Flickr Extras... and click Associate Images Automatically.

This compares the capture date and time of the selected photos (or folder) in Lightroom with your Flickr photostream, and marks any matching items as uploaded.

  • \$\begingroup\$ my take: he wants to have LR add metadata, then upload to Flickr, but doesn't realise that adding metadata already creates a derivative. \$\endgroup\$
    – jwenting
    Jul 19, 2011 at 5:11

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