Newbie's guide to Flickr

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

If you want to start using Flickr to share your photos but don't know where to start, our guide for newbies will get you on your way so you can spend more time snapping than tagging.

Flickr is a popular photo sharing and hosting service with advanced and powerful features. It supports an active and engaged community where people share and explore each other's photos. You can share and host hundreds of your own pictures on Flickr without paying a cent. There's also a pro service that gets you unlimited storage and sharing for US$24.95 (which is about AU$2.30 a month).

Flickr was created by a small Canadian development team in 2002 before being acquired by Yahoo a year later. Many other photo sites are easier to use, but none offer Flickr's interesting features or its cohesive community of enthusiasts.

Most users will start out with a free Flickr account, that gives you 100MB of photo uploads and two videos per month.

Adding photos

Flickr has a number of methods for uploading your images from your camera or computer. There's a dedicated uploader app you can install on your PC or Mac (there's also a Linux version). When it's installed on a PC, you can right-click on any photo and send it straight to Flickr. You can also install software that lets you publish from any folder in Windows XP, without the need to use the uploading program. If you're using a Mac, there's also a plug-in for iPhoto.

If you're not keen on downloading software Flickr lets you upload individual photos from the web interface.

Flickr upload

The web interface lets you upload photos and videos and choose privacy settings, and shows you the remaining upload space on free accounts. (Screenshot by CBSi)

Flickr terminology

There's a lot of Flickr-specific terminology on the site. Here's a quick run-down on what it all means.

Add tags to easily search and sort through photos.
(Credit: CBSi)

  • Sets: the Flickr alternative to photo albums. Sets allow you to pull related photos into the one place.
  • Tags: short descriptions used to label photos. Once images have been tagged, you can search and sort through them later. People often tag pictures with names, locations, event descriptions, and themes. If you have a multi-word tag like "dog with goggles" put quotations around it, otherwise it will get split into two different tags. You can also tag other Flickr users in images, which will then show up on their profile pages.
  • Photostream: the Flickr-specific term for all your images. Every user has a Flickr photostream; depending on whether you are a free or pro member it allows you to display your images in different ways and sizes on the first page.
  • Organizr: a tool on the Flickr site that lets you organise photos in batches, add images to sets and send photos to groups for sharing.
  • Notes let you add captions for specific areas of a photo. Users won't see a note until they mouse over it.
    (Credit: CBSi)

  • Notes: got a funny anecdote or story behind the photo on display? The easiest way to draw attention to it is with a note. On any of your pictures click the action tab above the photo and choose "Add a note". This pops up a rectangle you can move around the picture and adjust in size. Just like a Post-It note, you can write a quick message for others to read. Once you're done, click "Save". The cool thing about notes is that they don't get in the way if viewers don't want them. To see them, users can just move their cursor over a picture to pull them up. You can have several different notes on the same picture, and other users can add notes to your pictures.
  • Galleries: ever fancied being a curator? Well, with Flickr's Galleries tool, you too can feel like an artistic director of a modern art museum. Galleries allow you to choose up to 18 photos from other users and group them together. There's no room for narcissism here though; Flickr doesn't allow you to add your own images to galleries.
  • Geotag lets you place your images on a map based on where the photo was taken. (Credit: CBSi)

  • Geotag: allows you to plot your images on a map and tag them with location information. To geotag any photo just click the image next to your photo, which will pull up a new interface with a large map. Alternatively, if your images have already been geotagged by your camera or through your image processing software, Flickr will automatically read this data and plot them on a map. Make sure you set Flickr to import EXIF location data on your privacy page. After doing this to several of your photos from different parts of the world, check out Mappr, which will give you a visual representation of where your photos were taken on a large map.

Flickr actions

The actions pane above every photo on Flickr allows you to perform lots of different operations, which include tag people, add notes and view information about the image. (Screenshot by CBSi)



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