Free tricks.

If you have ever downloaded a flickr photo or come across in blogs a link to the image URL, it will be something cryptic like:


You have no idea who it belongs to, or where it lives in flickr. But there is a trick you can do to back out this info.

If you look at the filename, it has 2 “_” characters, these actually separate what are more or less data fields.

19172144641 is a unique id for the photo in flickr, it is the key identifier. This is actually the one you want. I read it is actually the sequential number for all flickr photos, so this one is the 19,172,144,641th on in flickr. Woah,

71660f5fdb is a “hash” some sort of munbo jumbo code used if you make your photos private,

z is a code for the file size (z=640px wide)

But again, the key one is 19172144641. And here is where the magic comes in – I learned this from a 2008 blog post by Bram Van Damme. Of course we all know blogs are pretty useless, right?

Take that number, and slap it on the enf of this URL or for this photo,

Pretty crazy, eh? If I really wanted to be helpful, I guess I could take a web tool that does it. But it’s kind of fun to drive the web with a clutch and a stick shift.

I used to rename all the flickr photos I downloaded for projects to be more descriptive, but now that I know thus secret judo move, I always keep the original file name, since I know I can back out of it the full information from its flickr page. If I do want to be organized, I might just prepend the file name when I save it like yellow_sign_19172144641_71660f5fdb_z.jpg.

I use this too often on blog posts that do not provide image attribution. If they uploaded the file to their wordpress site, but left the original flickr name… well you can get to the source.

So for my closing I leave you:

  • 3162856342_b1845549bd_z.jpg
  • 7969016534_dd7f852274_b_d.jpg
  • 3283119818_8a549d0f50_b_d.jpg

Now you to can amaze your teachers and co-workers with some flickr kung fu.

Top / Featured Image credits: Creative Commons Licensed image from tOrange

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


      1. Mine is permanently rusty, but I run AppleScripts from FastScripts, which is amazing app. give you a script menu in the menubar and keyboard shortcuts for scripts. Shows scripts for app that is active.
        Could be a droplet though.

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