Saturday, April 10, 2010

Download hi-res from Picasa web albums

This is a neato trick I just figured out all by myself a little while ago. One of the nice things about Google Photos (or Picasa Web Albums, technically) is that it allows people to view lo-res photos, but download the hi-res version. But there's also a feature that allows the album owner to restrict other people from downloading the hi-res version.

I happened to figure out a very easy trick to get around this. First go to the page for the photo you want to download (or if you want to just try the trick out, try clicking Picasa's "Explore" link and picking a random photo. Just make sure the "Download" option is greyed out.) Right click the image and get the image URL; "Copy Image Location" in Firefox, "Copy Image URL" in Chrome, "Copy Image Address" in Opera and get the idea. Now paste that URL into the address bar. The URL should look something like this:
The first part of it is unimportant. Just take a look at the end, right before the image filename:
My guess is that the s stands for "size", because the number after that is the larger of the two proportions. That is, in this case, the preview image (the lo-res, not the hi-res) is 340x512.

To download the original, all you need to do is replace that "s###" with "d". That means the end of the url would turn into this:
And so the entire URL would turn into this:
Try it on any image, and it should give you the full-sized, hi-resolution photo that matches the dimensions in the photo's description.

You'll notice that some photos don't have the "s###" part in the URL. What then? Well, this is just my best educated guess, but I'm fairly sure that means that the preview is the highest resolution, that there's no better quality one they're stashing away somewhere. (You can confirm this by checking the picture size in the description and comparing it to the preview's size.)

That's a pretty neat trick, but it kind of surprised me. I mean, usually Google is smarter than that, but I don't even get why they give the option of protecting galleries when the workaround takes all of 5 seconds.

This trick works (for me) as of 4-10-10

Bart was kind enough to comment, explaining and expanding on this, so check that out for even more awesomeness.


  1. You can also just leave out the /s512 bit entirely if you just want the full image. And there are other options too.

    So far I've figured out:

    URL format:

    As said, the options part can be left out, but if you need options, here they are:

    s### : max width ### pixels
    h### : max height ### pixels
    c : crop image to square (may only be used with s###, it seems, which makes sense since the size will be used for both dimensions)
    d : force download
    f : unknown
    k : unknown
    r : unknown

    If using more than 1 option, separate them using a dash ('-').

    Example using your image:

    This resizes the image horizontally to 160 pixels, crops to a square, and forces your browser to download the image.

    For completeness: to retrieve the full image without options:

    If you (or anyone else) figure out the other options (I couldn't find any documentation on them), I'd love to know!


  2. Wow! Very impressive, Bart! Thanks for all the info! Very very interesting, and useful.

    I'm curious how you came upon the others like f, k, and r. Just from images you've seen?


  3. Basically I just tried out all letters from the alphabet. Every letter not in the list gives a 404 not found error, so I guess the rest must mean something. I just haven't figured out f/k/r (and f###/k###/r###) since the resulting image seems identical with or without these options.


  4. Wow, talk about the empirical approach. I'm very impressed. Maybe I'll find some time soon to take a look at f/k/r to see if I can help find their meaning.


  5. doesnt work anymore they found you out

  6. Don't lie, everything works just fine, but in reality I was looking for some filters like monochrome,

    there are like:
    a, b, c - face-crop (object crop), d - download, g - ArcGISTiledMap converter, h - html converter (alt image name), k, o - overlay a Play button (maybe for video links), p - top-crop, r, v

    still dunno what a, b, k, r, v does :) couldn't find any docs on this subject. Still Picasa Web Albums the best!!!

  7. Upload photos and create Web Album. It's a great way of storing and sharing your pictures without ruining the quality.

  8. Has anyone figured out how to force download Picasa albums?