How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro

Important keyboard shortcuts for flickr. (Note: for a PC cmd=ctl)

cmd-click (to load a page in a tab in the background)
cmd-w (to close a window)
f (to fave a photo)
c (to comment on a photo)
cmd-option-arrow key (to move between open tabbed windows)

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that how you browse photosharing sites matters quite a bit. Not just where you go to find great photos to see and interact with, but specifically *how* you navigate the site with maximum efficiency.

My two favorite photosharing sites at present are 500px and Flickr. In this post I’ll try to explain how I browse photos on on Flickr to find and uncover great photographs and also how to navigate the site. You can see the companion article How to Browse 500px Like a Pro here.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro

The first place I go to browse photos on Flickr is in my contacts/friends most recent photos. Here you can toggle between friends/contacts (I keep people I actually know or whose work I super admire in my closer circle of friends and I pretty much add anybody who adds me as a contact back in the contacts grouping).

This should probably be your starting page on Flickr for looking for new flickr photos.

One of the most important ways to increase efficiency when browsing photosharing sites is to avoid wasting time while pages load. So typically what I do first after loading this page is cmd-click on each of the paging icons at the bottom of the page — this loads me the most recent 7 pages of my friends/contacts photos in new background tabs.

Next I go through each of these thumbnail pages and cmd click every thumbnail that I want to see larger. What this does is opens up many, many tabs in my browser of choice Chrome (doing the page loading while I’m doing something else). Once I finish with a page I cmd-w the page to close the page and it automatically starts taking me to the photo pages that I’ve opened.

On a photo page I can see the photo larger and have more choices of things I can do. If I want to fave a photo, rather than use the mouse, I’ll simply press the F key. This is much faster. If I want to comment on the photo, I’ll simply press the C key. This will automatically jump my browser right into the comment field where I can start typing a comment.

Because I have Dan Pupius FittrFlickr installed, I can also easily see (very unobtrusively) the major EXIF data for a photo right beneath the photo. I also have links to different sizes (including large and original if available) that I can cmd click to load an even larger version of the photo in the background if I need a closer look.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro 4

After going to my contacts photo uploads page, next I’ll go to my recent activity page. This is where reciprocation on flickr takes place. Looking at the most recent activity on my photos I see who has been interacting with them – who has been active on the site recently with my work. From here I start cmd clicking on their names. This loads up their photostreams where I can see their first page of photos. From here I’ll cmd-click the photos that I want to see larger and possibly interact with.

How to Brows Flickr LIke a Pro 2

The next place I go to find great photos is to The Hot Box. The Hot Box is a group that I’m active on in Flickr where great photos are voted into a pool of winners. Here, again, I’ll cmd-click the photos that i might be interested in and then interact with them.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro 3

After this I might go favorite diving. Here I will look for some of the people on Flickr whose taste I admire the most, and go through their favorites and cmd-click anything that looks interesting. This is such a superior way to find new contacts and photographs vs. Flickr’s crappy Explore section which not only blacklists photographers but is full of mediocre photos by strangers with the worst signatures, watermarks and borders humanly possible.

By using the techniques described above, I can find some really amazing photos by some really amazing photographers on Flickr. By relying heavily on the cmd-click function, I can more rapidly and efficiently navigate the site, allowing load time to take place in background tabs, leaving as much time as possible for me to actually spend appreciating and interacting with a photograph.


As a bonus tip, one other thing that I’m starting to do on both Flickr and 500px is curate photographs with Pinterest. I’ve just started doing this, but if I especially like a photograph on flickr or 500px (or anywhere on the web really) I’ll pin it to a gallery on Pinterest. Here is a gallery I’ve started called “So This is America” which includes interesting and compelling photographs of America and here is another gallery that I’ve started of some of my favorite photographs by one of my greatest inspirations, American photographer William Eggleston. Pinterest is really what Flickr’s own galleries should have looked like if they hadn’t of done it so half-ass and with so many restrictions and limitations.

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  1. So, I pretty certain you can’t use cmd-F for faving (as that’s find) or cmd-C for comment box (as that’s copy), but you can just use F and C. You probably know that but got caught up with copy/pasting or something.

    However, there’s also these commands:
    j/k : next/previous in photostream/sets/groups. (a la gmail)
    ,/. : pages left/right in photostream/sets/groups sidebar
    [/] (brackets) : changes focus between photostream/sets/groups

    g : add a photo to a group (or admin invite someone else’s photo)
    l : lightbox
    e : add to set
    t : add tag
    s : search (broken)

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    haha, yes Michael, thanks for the correction on that. Just corrected that. And thanks for the additional keyboard commands. 🙂

  3. I browse flickr (and 500px) very similarly, however one shortcut that I’ve found is that if you have a 3-button mouse, or a mouse with a wheel in the middle, you can middle click (or wheel click) a link to have it open in a new tab.

  4. Hub says:

    Chris, this middle click thing is actually the browser, not Flickr. I know Firefox does it.

  5. @Hub- Yes, I know. I don’t think what I said implied that it was flickr. 😉

  6. Maureen says:

    well. this is quite simply life changing.
    I love seeing my contacts photos, that’s why they are my contacts,
    but feel there’s just not enough time to get through them all.
    this will certainly streamline the process.
    thanks for sharing the tips

  7. Steve Crane says:

    Further to the middle click instead of Cmd/Ctrl-click, on two-button mice with no wheel this can be achieved by chording, the term for simultaneously clicking both buttons. I use it on my laptop’s trackpad.