3 Flavors of Privacy: Are You Using the Right One?

Did you know that the new SmugMug offers you a brand-new level of privacy for your galleries? That’s a total of three different flavors of security, so that your photos and stories can be shared, stashed or locked away however you wish.

So, what are your options?

1) Public – Visible to All

This is just what it sounds like. Your gallery is visible by everyone, including site engines like Google and all the people who browse SmugMug. You can, of course, share these galleries by sending links to people directly. Galleries set to Public will also be listed any time someone browses your website.

Tip: 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 aren’t set to “No.”

2) Unlisted – Visible to Anyone with the Link

This setting hides your gallery from anyone browsing your site. YOU will be able to see it when you’re logged in as the site owner, and you’ll see an “Unlisted” badge over the thumbnail for these galleries. The best part is that you can share these galleries with friends and family, because anyone with the direct link can browse the photos within.

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 viewers are legit. Links to Unlisted galleries won’t work without them.

3) Private – Visible to Only You

This new option 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.) Finally, when looking at your gallery, you won’t see the “key” in the URL, 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.

What About Privacy Settings on Folders?

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.

Bonus Tip: Privacy at the Photo Level

Want more specific control over what gets seen and what doesn’t? Try the Hide Photos option to keep just one or two photos secret from everyone but yourself, even in a Public or an Unlisted gallery. This option is perfect for the indecisive perfectionist who wants to display only the best shot from a series, or for people looking to hide certain images after guests have already viewed the gallery.

To find it, open up your photo’s lightbox, then click on the wrench icon in the corner. You’ll find the “Hide” open under the Organize menu. Or if you’re working in the Site-Wide Organizer, highlight a photo thumbnail and click on the wrench to access your Image Tools.

Remember that hidden photos can’t be shared on blogs, forums or anywhere else (including your banner or logo on your homepage), but we’ll display a little eye glyph over your hidden photos so that you’ll know.

Enjoy sharing (or not sharing) your photos! Questions? We’re always glad to help.

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SmugMug brings you beautiful, personalized online galleries. We love photography and believe that taking pictures makes life better. We're here to help make it fun, enjoyable, and easy for all.

37 thoughts on “3 Flavors of Privacy: Are You Using the Right One?”

  1. I wish the password protected Galleries Featured on the home page had either a photo (Preferred) on it or something that said “Password Protected”. But no. On my site there is just a blank, black square. That needs to be fixed. I believe on the old site it said something.

    1. Hi Joe, passworded galleries should still display an image, and you can set a featured image if you want by opening up the Gallery Settings and choosing one. If you have external linking turned off, however, that may be causing the black square. Please send our Support Heroes a message if you are still having trouble getting things to display the way you want, thanks! http://help.smugmug.com/

      1. I have looked for External Links in gallery settings. There is no such thing anywhere that I can find. There is External Embedding. So, I allowed External Embedding and that didn’t work. Still see in a black box on my home page under Featured Events.

        Support Hero’s not responding. Been waiting day’s for answer. Guess they are busy with the new sites.

  2. When I put a password on a public gallery, then it can no longer be seen by search engines, right?

    I upload ALL my photos, but I only share a small selection of them with the world. However, I like to let my mom see everything and I thought I accomplished this by making my personal galleries “Public” but setting a password, AND I don’t link to the personal folder in my menu but just told my mom the personal URL.

    You can see my site at michelekendzie.com

    1. Michele, that is correct. You may want to have your mom bookmark your site so she can visit it easily, or get her set up with a RSS feed so that she knows when you’ve added new photos and galleries. Let our Support Heroes know if you need any more suggestions!

  3. When I set a password for my otherwise-public client galleries, smugmug hides the password from me! I am the account administrator! This is not information that I can memorize for life.

    1. Hi Kandise, we did this because it’s much, much more secure than it used to be, and we did this to protect you, the gallery owner. If you think you’ll forget what you’ve set, please use the hint field to set a password hint.

      1. I mean, what am I being protected from? If someone is logged into my account, they can SEE the photos. There’s nothing else there to protect! Except the password, apparently.

        This really doesn’t make sense and it is not helpful.

      2. The main problem I have is that I depended on being able to find the passwords in my gallery settings with the old system. There was no warning that we needed to save them. If it is more secure, I am all for that, but I needed to know it was going to happen. Now I have no idea what some were and if I change them, the people I have shared passwords with will not be able to access the photos they want to see without the additional step of contacting me first.

      3. I have read the dialogue here and suggest that hiding passwords from siteowners is NOT acceptable. I recommend strongly reverting to the legacy option to be able to view PW. Prividing hints does NOT help with respect to uppoer/lower case. I do NOT want to keep a long list of PW for different galleries and folders. Also, are the folks at SmugMug able to access these PWs. If so, then the galleries are, by definition, not secure!

    2. You are right. I just asked the Hero’s about this. Hope they get the idea that this is not a ggod idea. Now we have to keep a log of passwords on paper. The answer I received was that this was for the security of the passworded galleries. They said to add a hint to help you remember the password. I don’t know but it seems like a lot of extra work for us to remember passwords.

      Next dumb issue is that any Gallery that is a Featured Event on your home page shows up as a black box if it is password protected. No password you see a thumbnail. They really need to fix that also.

    1. I wrote all the passwords but I think it’s hard to do if you share a lot of little galleryes for different people🙂

  4. I’ve spoken with smugmug about this issue as well and think it is something that needs to change as well. When I contacted them regarding the issue they told me something about how there was a very small security risk but that if I stuck with the legacy set up (where you can see the passwords) that I was not at risk, which doesn’t make much sense to me. What are people going to get if they see the password anyway? A chance to look a my images? It’s just another step in the workflow that adds time, that really doesn’t need to be there at all. I thought new processes were supposed to streamline things not add extra effort. Come on guys change this up and let the admins see there own passwords again, please!!

  5. You now have to create a list of passwords to all your galleries in a separate document, just to add to your list of to do things in your workflow! And if you don’t and you forget the sometimes arbitrary password you set then you have to change it, meaning if you handed out cards to guests at a wedding for example, with a password on that will now not work that just makes you look slack in my opinion!

  6. Thank you so much for adding the Private setting! I have been wanting a way to hide galleries from clients that are “expired” without deleting the folder.

  7. What will be the impact of the “New SmugMug” on albums already on the website under the “old SmugMug” software?

    Will the new SmugMug permit uploading of photo captions?

    Hal Davis

    1. Hi Hal, I’m not quite sure what you mean about the impact of the new SmugMug on your old site, so if you have a specific example or concern we would sure love to hear it. We have a lot of documentation about migrating your galleries and what changes, what doesn’t, right here:


      Also, you can always change the caption on your photos once they’re uploaded in a gallery, but if you use photo software like Lightroom, for example, captions that you do enter will be automatically applied in SmugMug after you upload.

      But if you have more, specific questions we are always happy to help! http://help.smugmug.com/

  8. IT would be nice to have an 18+ click through thing for galleries that have things like fine art nudes, etc. Right now all of that I have to do unlisted and then share galleries or use another website to link people here to sell. Mostly now though I’m posting that content on a fine art website for sale, not here.

  9. So the link within the gallery settings/Custom URL for “Unlisted” Galleries won’t actually work is what I’m understanding and experiencing from what you noted above in the article? Since it doesn’t have the extra jibberish at the end of the URL.
    I think this bug needs to be fixed then as it’s been creating a lot of issues with me and sending out to clients. I think if I’m changing the gallery settings to unlisted, then it also needs to update the custom URL so there’s no confusion in either location (browser or gallery settings).

  10. I made one of my galleries private and want to switch it back to public but can’t seem to find out where to do that?…

    1. Hi Carissa, when you’re viewing the gallery, you can click the “Customize” link in your logged-in header and find your Gallery Settings there. Alternatively if you use the site-wide Organizer, find the gallery you want and then click the “Settings” button above the file tree on the left. Hope this helps but be sure to write to our Heroes if you need anything else!

  11. Dear SmugMug,

    Please, please, PLEASE allow admins to see gallery passwords!!!! PLEASE!!!! I’m so frustrated at having to dig them up and/or figure them out. And THANK YOU!! 🙂

    1. Shem and Tony, we’re sorry that this throws a wrench into your workflow but we opted to do this for everyone’s safety. It’s not secure to store important things like passwords in plain text, so we do highly recommend that you fill in the “Password reminder” field to jog your memory. If you still have trouble remembering them all, a password organizer can help you keep all your passwords in order, and not just the ones you use on SmugMug.

    1. Kudos for the prompt reply, a brick for the intent. In a sense this is NOT about you, it’s about the users. It just annoys people; we DON’T need that level of security for a site like this.

      It’s still a great resource and we love it, but these little ‘improvements’ or ‘tweaks’ are driving us crazy. Stop it before the flood starts.

      1. I’m with you, Tony. Yes, props for the prompt reply, but totally agree that there should at least be an option to show the password. I’m not the kind of person that usually steps out to say anything in a public forum, but this is causing me so much frustration that I feel I MUST say something! It makes me want to look into other gallery hosting options, it’s that much of a pain.

        SmugMug, have there been malicious incidents in the past that have motivated this change to hide the password from admins? I just don’t get it…. Thanks!

  12. I know this is an old post, but thought I’d leave my workaround and opinion.

    I also agree it doesn’t make sense (and adds work) to not allow the site owner to see the password. I use SmugMug for client delivery and often need to resend the link, which requires I find my original email (I understand I can just save the password in a separate document). A workaround for this that I am using is to put the password both in the password field as well as in the password hint field.

    1. Hi Chris, and thanks for chiming in even if it’s an older post. The info is still valid! I’m not sure I understand your workflow because sharing a gallery link shouldn’t require your email, but if it works for you we won’t tell you to rock the boat. We don’t really recommend using the password in the password reset field, as if you’re thinking of this other people will, too. Just FYI!

  13. A couple notes…
    1. Should have tested my workaround a little better – the hint is publicly visible, so that won’t work. What I was trying to achieve was a way to preserve the password information in the gallery backend – and make it only viewable to the owner, in plain text. The only way I see to currently do that is use the Shopping>Backprinting field to enter the password in plain text. I know that’s not what this is field is intended for…but it would achieve the result of allowing the gallery owner to see the password without having to record it anywhere outside the gallery.
    2. Email – what I meant is I have to go back to my sent email and find the link I sent to the client, along with the password.

    1. Hey again Chris, ah, thanks for clarifying! Actually, that’s a pretty cool idea to use the backprinting field. Even if you have fans who end up buying prints, they may want to get back into the gallery someday and they’ll have that password right on the back. Genius!

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