flickr-rsync Documentation


flickr-rsync is a python script to manage synchronising a local directory of photos with Flickr based on an rsync interaction pattern. It also allows listing files / folders in a consistent way from the local file system or flickr in a diff-friendly mannner.


Run the following to install flickr-rsync globally (or append --user to install for just the current user)

$ python install

Authenticating with Flickr

Two keys are provided by Flickr, an api key and a secret. To make your application aware of these keys there are two methods:

  • provide --api-key and --api-secret arguments to the command line
  • create a config file in $HOME/.flickr-rsync.ini with the following entries
API_KEY = xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
API_SECRET = yyyyyyyyyyyyyy

where x’s and y’s are replaced by the values provided by Flickr.

Listing files

The --list-only flag will print a list of files in the source storage provider, this can either be Flickr by specifying the src as Flickr or a local file system path. Use --sort-files to sort the files alphabetically. This feature is useful for manually creating a diff between your local files and Flickr files.

e.g. List all files in Flickr photo sets

$ flickr-rsync flickr --list-only

Or List all files in a local folder

$ flickr-rsync ~/Pictures --list-only

Tree view vs. csv view

You can change the output from a tree view to a comma separated values view by using --list-format=tree or --list-format=csv. By default the tree view is used.

e.g. Print in tree format

$ flickr-rsync flickr --list-only --list-format=tree

├─── 2017-04-24 Family Holiday
│   ├─── IMG_2546.jpg [70ebf9]
│   ├─── IMG_2547.jpg [3d3046]
│   ├─── IMG_2548.jpg [2f2385]
│   └─── IMG_2549.jpg [d8e946]
└─── 2017-04-16 Easter Camping
    ├─── IMG_2515.jpg [aabe74]
    ├─── IMG_2516.jpg [0eb4f2]
    └─── IMG_2517.jpg [4fe908]

Or csv format

$ flickr-rsync flickr --list-only --list-format=csv

Folder, Filename, Checksum
2017-04-24 Family Holiday, IMG_2546.jpg, 70ebf9be4d8301e94c65582977332754
2017-04-24 Family Holiday, IMG_2547.jpg, 3d3046b37ba338793a762ab7bd83e85c
2017-04-24 Family Holiday, IMG_2548.jpg, 2f23853abeb742551043a3514ba4315b
2017-04-24 Family Holiday, IMG_2549.jpg, d8e946e73700b9c2890d3681c3c0fa0b
2017-04-16 Easter Camping, IMG_2515.jpg, aabe74b06c3a53e801893347eb6bd7f5
2017-04-16 Easter Camping, IMG_2516.jpg, 0eb4f2519f6562ff66069618637a7b10
2017-04-16 Easter Camping, IMG_2517.jpg, 4fe9085b9f320a67988f84e85338a3ff

Syncing files

e.g. To copy all files from Flickr to a local folder

$ flickr-rsync flickr ~/Pictures/flickr

Or to copy all files from a local folder up to Flickr

$ flickr-rsync ~/Pictures/flickr flickr

You can even copy from a local folder to another local folder

$ flickr-rsync ~/Pictures/from ~/Pictures/to

Files are matched by folder names and file names. E.g. if you have a Flickr photoset called 2017-04-16 Easter Camping and a file called IMG_2517.jpg, and you are trying to copy from a folder with 2017-04-16 Easter Camping\IMG_2517.jpg it will assume this file is the same and will not try to copy it.

Will never delete!

flickr-rsync will never delete any files, either from Flickr or your local system, it is append only. It will not overwrite any files either, if a file with the same name exists in the same photoset / folder, it will be skipped.


Filtering is done using regular expressions. The following four options control filtering the files:

  • --include= specifies a pattern that file paths must match to be included in the operation
  • --include-dir= specifies a pattern that folder names must match to be included in the operation
  • --exclude= specifies a pattern that file paths must NOT match to be included in the operation
  • --exclude-dir= specifies a pattern that folder names must NOT match to be included in the operation

Note that filtering by folders is more performant than by file paths, prefer folder name filtering where possible.

Also note that exclude filters take preference and will override include filters.

Root files

Note that filtering does not apply to root files, root files (files in the target folder if local file system, or files not in a photoset on Flickr) are excluded by default. To include them, use --root-files.


All options can be provided by either editing the config file flickr-rsync.ini or using the command line interface.

usage: flickr-rsync [-h] [-l] [--list-format {tree,csv}] [--list-sort]
                    [--include REGEX] [--include-dir REGEX] [--exclude REGEX]
                    [--exclude-dir REGEX] [--root-files] [-n]
                    [--throttling SEC] [--retry NUM] [--api-key API_KEY]
                    [--api-secret API_SECRET] [--tags "TAG1 TAG2"] [-v]
                    [src] [dest]

A python script to manage synchronising a local directory of photos to flickr

positional arguments:
  src                   the source directory to copy or list files from, or
                        FLICKR to specify flickr
  dest                  the destination directory to copy files to, or FLICKR
                        to specify flickr

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -l, --list-only       list the files in --src instead of copying them
  --list-format {tree,csv}
                        output format for --list-only, TREE for a tree based
                        output or CSV
  --list-sort           sort alphabetically when --list-only, note that this
                        forces buffering of remote sources so will be slower
  -c, --checksum        calculate file checksums for local files. Print
                        checksum when listing, use checksum for comparison
                        when syncing
  --include REGEX       include only files matching REGEX. Defaults to
                        media file extensions only
  --include-dir REGEX   include only directories matching REGEX
  --exclude REGEX       exclude any files matching REGEX, note this takes
                        precedent over --include
  --exclude-dir REGEX   exclude any directories matching REGEX, note this
                        takes precedent over --include-dir
  --root-files          includes roots files (not in a directory or a
                        photoset) in the list or copy 
  -n, --dry-run         in sync mode, don't actually copy anything, just
                        simulate the process and output
  --throttling SEC      the delay in seconds (may be decimal) before each
                        network call
  --retry NUM           the number of times to retry a network call before
  --api-key API_KEY     flickr API key
  --api-secret API_SECRET
                        flickr API secret
  --tags "TAG1 TAG2"    space seperated list of tags to apply to uploaded
                        files on flickr
  -v, --verbose         increase verbosity
  --version             show program's version number and exit

Config and token file discovery

The config file flickr-rsync.ini and Flickr token file flickr-rsync.token are searched for in the following locations in order:

  • <current working dir>/flickr-rsync.ini
  • <current working dir>/.flickr-rsync.ini
  • <users home dir>/flickr-rsync.ini
  • <users home dir>/.flickr-rsync.ini
  • <executable dir>/flickr-rsync.ini
  • <executable dir>/.flickr-rsync.ini