Brought to you by the photographers at SmugMug

3 Flavors of Privacy

At SmugMug, you've got many ways to share your photos with family, friends and clients. We also take your privacy seriously, and have additional features that help you in your quest to share, archive or deliver files in a way that works for you. 

What are your options? You'll see three different flavors of security for  folders, galleries and pages so that your photos and stories can be shared, stashed or locked away however you wish. 

You can set the level of privacy at any level: across your whole site, for your folder, for each gallery and/or your pages. 

Example: You can keep your entire site open to the public, but make just the folder containing your child's photos locked with a password.

Be sure that you are using the privacy settings that are right for you, your family and your clients. 

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Public is just what it sounds like. A 'public'  gallery is visible to everyone visiting your website, as well as to search engines like Google.

If you want your public galleries to be found faster, be sure to enter a gallery description, meta keywords and be sure that your "Web Searchable" and "SmugMug Searchable" settings are set to "Yes."

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You can add a viewing password to any gallery on your site to be sure only authorized guests get to see your photos. When you do this to a public gallery, that gallery is no longer available via search engines like Google. It will, however, continue to show publicly on your website's Browse  page, and in the  folder containing it if you opt to display them on your site.

People who visit your password protected galleries will be prompted to enter the password, and will be shown the password hint if you've included one. 

Password security is something that everyone should take seriously. Here are our best practices:

1. DO use a STRONG password. Fourteen characters, not a word found in the dictionary, a combination of letters, numerals and symbols or a string of unrelated words or parts of words. 

2. DO NOT use the client's name, the name of the gallery, birthdays or other easy-to-remember but easy-to-guess phrases for the password. 

3. DO NOT use a password hint on galleries that absolutely require privacy. If your client can guess based on that hint, other people can, too.

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This setting makes your galleries accessible to anyone with the link.  They aren't visible to people browsing your site, but you'll be able to see it whenever you're logged in as the site owner. Additionally, you'll see an banner at the top of  these galleries telling you that it's not public:

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The best part is that you can share these galleries with friends and family, because anyone with the direct link can browse the photos inside. And, because the URL contains a randomly generated 'key,' it's nearly impossible to guess the link. 

Unlisted galleries are not indexed by search engines. 

Tip: When you share the link, be sure to copy all of the letters in the URL that your browser (or Get a Link) gives you. They may look like a random jumble (Example: n-fSzMC), but they're literally the key to ensuring that your guests are legit. Links to Unlisted galleries won't work without them. 

You can also add a password to an unlisted gallery, if you wish.


Private means that only you, the account owner, will be able to see the gallery and the images inside of it. Even if you share a link with someone, they'll get a "Page Not Found" error. It goes without saying that galleries set to Private won't be found by search engines, nor will they appear in SmugMug's site-wide search (unless you're the one doing the search.)

When looking at your gallery, you won't see the "key" in the URL that we described above, but rest assured that we'll still keep your goodies safe and sound.

Tip: Private galleries are great for you, but less great for friends or clients – don't choose this option if you want someone else to enjoy your photos! Additionally, don't post photos from Private galleries into forums and blogs, because they won't work.

An important note:
There is a certain amount of trust required in the people that you share the link, and/or the password with. The strongest security chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.
You no longer have control over the security of the gallery if the recipient of the url and the password shares them.
For highly sensitive content, you may want to consider archiving the gallery as soon as the client has finished viewing the contents. You can generate the gallery download from Private galleries and send those files to your client if they do request later access.

What about Privacy at the Folder Level?

Good news! Folders get the same privacy options that galleries do. By default, new galleries that you create will inherit the parent folder's  privacy settings... but you can, of course, change this on specific galleries if you wish.

Tip: Change the privacy setting on a Folder to change the privacy setting on all of the galleries within. Great for hiding (or revealing) entire categories on your site.