SmugMug Review 2020

I take MANY photos (5000+ per year) at events with family and friends. I like to share all of these photos and definitely don’t want to lose them!

I subscribed to SmugMug in February 2014 because their service seemed to solve two major problems for me:

  1. I wanted to share a majority of photos with family and friends
  2. I wanted to backup a majority of photos to a third/cloud backup

Fast forward 6 years. I realize I need a more convenient method of uploading photos to meet the two needs above. I uploaded my entire photo collection when I began using SmugMug in 2014, but I have only uploaded about once per year since then.

Overall Experience

Overall, the SmugMug service mostly met my needs. Other people could access most of my collection and I had peace of mind that most of my collection was protected by a third/cloud backup.

I went with the “Power” plan because it allowed me to create a custom domain name for my gallery ( The service initially cost $60/year (2014-2017) and later $72/year (2018-2019).

My gallery contained 20K photos (86GB) in hundreds of galleries sorted in year/month folders. For example, you might browse to our family folder, a 2010 folder, then March folder, then Wedding gallery.

SmugMug did NOT have a native Mac app when I initially uploaded most of the photos in 2014, so the web-based process was VERY slow and time consuming (create a gallery, upload files, wait, repeat) but the end result was nice for family/friends to browse. SmugMug now provides a native Mac upload app that allows you to queue up multiple gallery uploads. The App Store reviews cite many problems, but the app was able to upload photos from Mac Photos on macOS Mojave (10.14.6).

Feature Idea – Automatically Upload Photos from Mac Photos

I currently have to manually upload photos to SmugMug. I wish SmugMug had an automated method of uploading photos. It would be very nice if the SmugMug native Mac upload app could automatically detect and upload any new photos from Mac Photo into private galleries for me to review and publish. Photos could be grouped into galleries for each new “Moment” or “Collection” or maybe just grouped by day or month?

Either way, moderating each gallery (reviewing, marking certain photos private, etc) then making the gallery public would be much faster and more convenient!

Feature Idea – More Convenient Bulk Photo Download

I wish there was a better way to download all of my photos from SmugMug without having to download a ZIP archive for each gallery. Since one of my requirements is to have a third/cloud backup of my photos, I need to be able to more easily retrieve my photos from the service.

SmugMug currently offers downloading all of the photos from a single gallery. The process is not great, plus I have hundreds of galleries so I would have to repeat the process hundreds of times.

Current Gallery Photo Download Process

When I am logged into SmugMug and I browse to a gallery with 3 or more photos, I see a Download All button next to the Slideshow button. I have to download individual photos if a gallery only has 1 or 2 photos.

When I click the Download All button, the website tells me that it is working to create a ZIP archive of the photo files and will email me when a link is ready to download. If I wait long enough, the website tells me that my photos are ready to download and displays a download link:

The ZIP archive does contain the original photo files with the original file names.

Here is output showing the photos I uploaded to a test gallery (album-upload/) and the files that were in the ZIP archive SmugMug created for me (album-204588880-downloads/). Notice that the files have the same MD5 hash? That means they are the EXACT SAME files.

Minor Bug? Take a close look at the screenshot above. My upload folder contains 4 files, but the download only contains 3 files. If you download a gallery archive, upload more photos to that gallery, and attempt to download a new gallery archive, SmugMug apparently does NOT update the archive with the new photo file(s).

Other Bulk Download Options

There might be 3rd party software that can easily bulk download all of my photos from SmugMug since they have an API, but I did not pursue this since my #1 issue was more convenient uploading.

Feature Idea – Make Cancellation Effective on Renewal Date

The cancellation form specifically says “Your account will be closed immediately, and we’re unable to offer refunds for any unused portion of your subscription fees.” I rarely run into this. Some vendors will credit or refund the unused service fees, but most vendors automatically cancel the service on the renewal date.

Sure enough. My account was disabled immediately after clicking “Yes, Close My Account”. Classy.

3 thoughts on “SmugMug Review 2020

  1. Came across your review while searching for alternative means of doing bulk download in smugmug. Have you found another site that suits your needs?

    1. Sorry, I have not. Sharing with family and friends via a variety of tools. Manually backing my media up to Amazon S3 Glacier. Please reply if you find anything that has potential. 🙂

  2. I concur with feedback comment from JR Klein re hassle encountered in attempting to upload to SmugMug from Mac Photos. After all this time, it is ridiculous — inexcusable — that one is unable to upload directly from Photos. Having to do so intermediately — having first to create a Folder from which to upload — is a huge drawback, IMO, and I have been an otherwise happy SmugMug subscriber since dirt turned brown. Instruct SM engineers to devise a way to upload directly from Photos. Cannot be that difficult. I have no doubt that countless other SmugMuggers who use Photos feel likewise.

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