Help / FAQ / The Map

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In order to not break the Internet and the various links posted to our Help Forum, we will keep these pages at their current location for archival purposes.

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A Map? On Flickr? Is that a question?

Not quite, but, it's OK. Yes! We've added a fabulous map of the world to Flickr. You can geotag your photos (in Organizr and through the map, on your photo page under the More menu) to show us where you took them, or you can just browse around the world and see where other people have been and what they saw.

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What does "geotagged" mean?

Geotagging is the art of adding location information to things like a photo. You can geotag your photos using Organizr, or directly from your individual photo pages.

As an aside, we're proud to say it's a word popularized by a Flickr alum, Dan Catt, who created a cool site called and seeded the geotagging community around the Web.

There are a few geotag-related groups on Flickr too, like GeoTagging Flickr, that you might be interested in. See what people are doing with all this location information.

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How do I add my photos to a map?

It's easy! To geotag a photo on your photo page, simply go to the More menu and select “Add to your map”.

To work with more than one image you can open Organizr and find the photo(s) you want to place on the map using Findr. Click the Map tab. Then, go to a location where you took your photo(s) by using either the "Find Location" box in the top right of the tab or the pan/zoom tools to browse to the location. When you've found the location, drag the photo(s) from Findr and drop it on the map. Easy!

You might like to start by watching our screencast of Geotags & You: How to add your photos to the map using Organizr.

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What's around the corner?

To explore the area around a geotagged photo, just click the map on the right of the photo page and then "See nearby photos and videos."

On the nearby page (see it says "/nearby" up in the URL now ;) the radius of nearby photos and videos shown is determined by the level of zoom a photo was geotagged at, so it is different for different photos. Closer zoom shows a smaller area but more detail, and vice versa. "Show filters" lets you change who's photos you see and the timeframe represented.

Have fun exploring!

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How do I change the location name?

It’s easy, just click on the location name on your photo page. Select "edit location" and pick a better name. When you choose a name we start by showing the most specific information we have (neighborhoods where available). If you don't see a good match click "See more names..." to look for a better fit.

"See more names..." will show larger geographic areas each time it is clicked. (i.e. neighborhoods > cities > counties > states). If you would like to see a more specific list of locations, you may need to remove the geotag data, then zoom in and re-add it. Then, when you submit the location, a more specific location should appear.

The corrections you make on the map help us define default locations and make the Flickr map smarter. Thanks! :)

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Why am I having trouble seeing my photos on the global map?

The global map (that you access from the Explore menu) shows a lot of photos. Since we can only show about 250 photos at a time, you need to page through the results by clicking the little widget in the top left of the map. The photos on the map are sorted by either the most recent upload or the most interesting photos, so just like it's tricky to catch your photos in the most recent uploads, it's tricky to see your photos on the global map sometimes.

The best way to look at your photos is to go straight to your personal map. Click the "Map" link under the More menu on your main photos page.

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How can I import geotagged photos?

If you've assigned geo data to your photos using tags, and wish to use that data to effortlessly place those photos on your map, you may do so at the Import geotagged photos page.

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Can I save places on the map I use a lot?

Yep. We realized it's fairly common that people normally take photos in and around a few distinct areas, so we thought it would be handy to be able to load those places quickly on to the map in Organizr.

So, when you've opened up your map in Organizr, and you've found one of your favorite photo-taking places, click on the "Saved views" link in the top right. Then, you can add a label for the spot you're saving. Next time you want to geotag photos you've taken there, just click on the "Saved views" link. (You can add up to 16 different views.)

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Can anybody see where my geotagged photos were taken? Is the location private?

You can keep where you took your photos private, if you want, or assign permission to any level you're comfortable with. You can set a default privacy level for any photos you add to the map, and you can change the location privacy per photo as well. To change the settings on a photo, double-click it in Organizr. Click the Location tab. That's where the privacy setting is, as well as the latitude and longitude of your photo's location. (You can edit that too, if you have that information.)

Remember that the photo's overall privacy setting overrides geo privacy. For example, if you make a photo available to friends only, only your friends can see the photo in the first place. You can add a secondary level of privacy for where the photo was taken, say, "Only You" can see it, but saying anyone can see where it was taken is kinda moot, because only your friends can see the photo in the first place. Get it?

Also, private photos which are placed on the map will not have location information show when accessed on a Guest Pass, even if your default privacy is set to show location to anyone.

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What are the Flickr shapefiles?

The Flickr shapefiles are a visualization of the shape of the places where people have geotagged their photos on Flickr.

For every geotagged photo we store up to six Where On Earth (WOE) IDs. These are unique numeric identifiers that correspond to the hierarchy of places where a photo was taken: the neighbourhood, the town, the county, and so on up to the continent. (This process is usually referred to as "reverse-geocoding".)

Over time this got us wondering: If we plotted all the geotagged photos associated with a particular WOE ID, would we have enough data to generate a mostly accurate contour of that place? Not a perfect representation, perhaps, but something more fine-grained than a bounding box. It turns out we can.

The shapefiles are available either as a single data dump or, via the API.

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How do the shapefiles work?

The shapefiles are generated using a mathematical technique called "Alpha shapes". Tran Kai Frank Da and Mariette Yvinec, authors of a computer programming library for generating Alpha shapes describe them like this:

"Imagine a huge mass of ice-cream making up the space ... and containing the points as "hard" chocolate pieces. Using one of those sphere-formed ice-cream spoons we carve out all parts of the ice-cream block we can reach without bumping into chocolate pieces, thereby even carving out holes in the inside (eg. parts not reachable by simply moving the spoon from the outside). We will eventually end up with a (not necessarily convex) object bounded by caps, arcs and points. If we now straighten all "round" faces to triangles and line segments, we have an intuitive description of what is called the alpha shape..."

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What about privacy? Will someone be able to see where my house is?

No. The contours of the Flickr shapefiles are an aggregate of all the geotagged photos for a place. The geometries are designed to follow the shape all the points as closely as possible but the nature of the Alpha shapes also means that some points are ignored altogether.

Additionally, even if a person has geotagged a photo at the very edge of a shapefile all that would tell someone is that a photo was taken there. If you searched for photos taken at that exact point all the existing privacy restrictions (who can see my photos? who can the location my photo was taken at?) would be enforced.

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Where can I find out more about the shapefiles?

There are a series of English language blog posts that cover the motivations and technical details behind the shapefiles project:

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What's a geofence?

Geofences let you set your default geo privacy to Anyone, contacts only, etc. but still restrict it to 'Family Only' for home, or 'Friends only' for work, your favorite park, or any other area you want to be more private. So when you are out taking pictures on your camera phone you can have Flickr show the location but automatically hide it when you upload from home!

You can manage geofences on your geo privacy page.

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How do I use geofences?

From your Geo Preferences page make sure you have your default privacy set. Then start creating a geofence by searching for a location. Tip: It's easiest to start by entering a full address.

(1) Center the dot over the location, (2) set the size of the fence, (3) set who can see it, and (4) give it a name. After you create the fence we will give you the option to (5) set the geoprivacy for all the photos already in that fence to your new preference.

To create or edit a geofence just set the name, location, and radius to let us know what area it should cover. You can set the location by searching for an address or zooming in on the map. After you create or edit the geofence, we give you the option to change all of the photos already in that fence.

Good things to know about geofences

* Geofences are areas on the map which you want to be more private than your default. So if you have the overall default to 'Private' you won't have a need for geofences.

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Or, return to the Help forum.