iPhoto Flickr Sets Don't Transfer

March 25, 2012

Three weeks ago in order to solve a problem with getting a VPN client to work properly on my laptop I backed up everything on the hard drive, formatted it, and reinstalled Lion. I then spent the next several days reinstalling all the software and settings that I use, and recovering my data from the backup.

When I went to import my pictures to iPhoto I discovered that Lion doesn’t come with iPhoto. My version of iPhoto is ancient – it came with my PowerBook G4 that was purchased over 9 years ago. There may have been an upgrade (or two) since then, I honestly don’t remember. I bought a copy of the latest iPhoto through the App Store and once it was downloaded copied the backed up iPhoto library on top of the newly created (empty) one. When I started iPhoto it happily starting importing all my pictures. After the import was completed I didn’t think anything more about it.

Until two days ago. Then I tried to upload pictures from our current New York City trip to Flickr. I had to authorize the new version of iPhoto to Flickr, which is easy. Instead of having my pictures upload however I was presented with a dialog that said one of my Flickr sets wasn’t found and that the pictures on Flickr would be removed. The dialog only had an “OK” button. No way to cancel. I was tired after a long day and wasn’t thinking. I clicked “OK” and the pictures were in fact removed. The dialog reappeared objecting to another Flickr set. I had to force quit iPhoto to stop it. I also revoked iPhoto’s authorization on my Flickr account page.

I sent an email via Flickr’s feedback page regarding my problem but I have yet to hear back from them. I guess they don’t work weekends.

This morning as part of my pilgrimage to 5th Avenue Apple store I signed up for a Genius Bar appointment and took my laptop and the backup drive with me. I was hoping there would be some way to reinstate the Flickr sets so that I could reconnect iPhoto and Flickr.

There isn’t.

The Flickr sets are in iPhoto but something about the way they are managed no longer lines up with what Flickr expects. In a bit of extremely poor user experience management iPhoto reacts to this misalignment by deleting the photos and all their comments and notes from Flickr. The images are still on my hard drive but the social aspects of Flickr are wiped out.

The genius worked on my problem for 20 or 30 minutes, eventually asking several other geniuses for their opinion. The consensus answer was, “There is no way to reconnect my existing iPhoto Flickr sets with Flickr again”. I can never again connect this version of iPhoto to my Flickr account – unless I want to lose all the comments and all the notes that were added. Between September and December 2010 we had a house built and I took, uploaded and heavily notated almost 1000 pictures. Information that is priceless and irreplaceable.

My love for and support of Apple has diminished somewhat. I do not know if the misalignment between iPhoto and Flickr is due to changes Apple made or changes Flickr made. All I know is that what used to work no longer works.

The only glimmer of hope is a third-party app called Flickery. The genius said it sits between iPhoto and Flickr so maybe – maybe – it would recognize my existing photo sets and keep them. I’ve sent the Flikery guys an email explaining my situation and asking my all important question. Hopefully I’ll hear back soon. In the mean time I’ll have to use Flickr’s photo up load process to get my pictures to the Internet.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.