While exporting photos (and metadata) from Lightroom to Flickr is relatively simple, importing your own photos and metadata from Flickr to Lightroom doesn't seem to be as straightforward.

I have a lot of previously uploaded (and tagged) photos on Flickr and I'd like to add them to my Lightroom catalogue with the associated tags (and sets if possible).

In a perfect world, the solution would also allow for synching of the photos as new tags were added either on Flickr or on Lightroom, but this feature is not critical. I don't mind doing a one time import and maintaining things manually from there.


3 Answers 3


I'm pretty sure that Jeffrey Friedl's updated flickr plug-in for lightroom 3 does most (or all) of what you want, but I haven't really experimented with it yet. It's something I want, also, but there's enough complexity here I'm taking my time...


  • \$\begingroup\$ That is stellar; I hadn't yet seen his update. I've always liked his plugin, this really kicks it up a notch in a few ways. \$\endgroup\$
    – ex-ms
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 6:36


I can't vouch for it personally, it's just the best-seeming result for a search for "download" on the Flickr App Garden. It seems to hit all the right points:

  • adds tags to EXIF
  • folders for sets
  • respects privacy settings (which you didn't ask for, but is worth mentioning)

This seems like enough to do a one-time import to Lightroom, and them use Lightroom as your primary sorting/tagging system going forward.

I'm not aware of any two-way syncing to Lightroom, and I'm not entirely sure it's possible. I haven't looked at the Lightroom API in a while, but I don't believe there's any possibility to automate additions or changes to the library.

  • \$\begingroup\$ NB: I'm leaving this up as a possible solution that might work for some, but personally I would go with @chuqui's answer now that I'm aware of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – ex-ms
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 6:39

I've done this extensively and successfully, so let me advise two tools, especially if you are using Lightroom 2. Note that I haven't used the 'Publish to Flickr' service now available in Lightroom 3, I'm pretty sure it's worth investigating first.


URL: http://flickrmetadatasynchr.codeplex.com/

This worked flawlessly for me. It allows you to synchronize metadata added to images stored on Flickr with the original versions of those images stored locally on your hard drive. If you don't have the original version on your hard drive, the application can download the missing pictures for you. The app can sync the metadata two-way on a picture-by-picture and metadata field-by-field basis.

Here is what you need to keep in mind though: do not use LR at the same time. Exit the app before syncing. Once you have synced your metadata/tags, you need to let LR know it should update its own keywords database with the new tags you imported withFlickrMetadataSynchr, otherwise they won't show up. You do not need to re-import your JPG files if you have them already in LR: just select the files then use "Metadata > Read Metadata from File(s)". WARNING: this will replace the metadata that was in your LR catalog for said files, so make sure you write any metadata back first.

Let me clarify this last warning: say you imported JPG files in LR, then added some keywords. These keywords are stored in the catalog, not in the JPG's EXIF section. Before syncing with FlickrMetadataSynchr, select your files and use "Metadata > Save Metadata to File(s)" to write the keywords back as tags. Exit LR, then use FlickrMetadataSynchr to merge the tags from Flickr with yours. Now use "Metadata > Read Metadata from File(s)", and you should have all your tags as keywords, both the ones you added in LR, and the ones you imported from Flickr.

In any case, I strongly suggest your run FlickrMetadataSynchr in "Simulate updating Metadata" mode first, to evaluate what is going to happen.

A second tool I've used extensively works the other way around.


URL: http://flickrsync.freehostia.com/index.htm

This app displays your local folders and your flickr sets and can establish synchronization rules between them. You can manage all your photos locally and FlickrSync will keep them updated in flickr. For about 6 months I didn't have a clue about color management and was uploading my Flickr photos in AdobeRGB space. A big no no. I converted all my JPG photos back to sRGB and used FlickrSync to replace the old files with the new versions. This is definitely a case where you do not want to invalidate the old photo page, lose your tag or any of the links going to that photo. That tool did the job, updating the existing photo on Flickr with my new sRGB file.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would give the LR3 Flickr services a whirl. They are pretty nice, and support metadata sync. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 5:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.