A decentralized photo sharing platform

A Brief Intro to Pixelfed

Getting started with Pixelfed is as easy as it gets. Find the instance you like, create an account, and you're good to go. Sharing photos is not difficult either. Click Create New Post, and you can choose between three options. A regular post can be used to publish one or more photos, a story allows you to create posts that expire in 24 hours, and a collection lets you organize a selection of already published photos into a group.

When creating a regular post, you have the option to add up to 10 photos or videos. After choosing the desired files, Pixelfed immediately prompts you to add a caption, mark a post as sensitive, specify a license, disable commenting, etc. Pixelfed also makes it possible to crop and resize the added files as well as apply filters. Click on the left arrow in the upper-left corner of the dialog window to switch to the editing interface. Pixelfed offers several rather good filters that can spruce up dull-looking photos without much effort (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Pixelfed offers a decent selection of filters.

Grouping published photos into collections can come in especially handy for presenting photographic projects (Figure 3). Creating a collection is not difficult, but the process does have a quirk. When you choose New Collection, you're dropped into the Create Collection interface. Most of the options available here are self-explanatory, but the title of the Add Posts section is slightly misleading. You can add only one post, and that's it (this may be fixed by the time you read this). Once you've specified the available settings and published the collection, you can add as many photos to it as you like.

Figure 3: You can group photos into collections.

The My Portfolio feature is the most recent addition to Pixelfed. As the name suggests, you can use this feature to set up a portfolio containing a selection of photos you shared on Pixelfed (Figure 4). The portfolio features a different design, and it has a dedicated URL (https://portfolio.pixelfed.social/username) that separates the portfolio from the rest of your Pixelfed account. This functionality makes it possible to use Pixelfed not only to share casual photos with your followers, but also showcase your best photographic work.

Figure 4: Pixelfed makes it possible to set up a portfolio.

If you want to see photos posted by other Pixelfed users or you're looking for photographers to follow, Pixelfed has you covered. The Local Feed view shows recent posts from users on the Pixelfed instance you're on, while Global Feed pulls posts from other ActivityPub-based services such as Mastodon. Speaking of which, you're not limited to following only Pixelfed users: You can follow anyone on any ActivityPub-based service. This means that if you want to follow someone on mastodon.social, you can easily do it from your Pixelfed account. Simply use the search field to find the desired user by their username (e.g., @username@mastodon.social). The same applies to your Pixelfed account: Anyone can follow you from any other ActivityPub-powered service.

Finally, the Discover section offers several clever features. The Daily Trending section displays the most popular photos (Figure 5), which offers a way to find and follow photographers you like. The My Memories section displays photos taken on this day in previous years, giving you a chance to take a stroll down memory lane. You can view your most popular posts along with other useful stats in the Account Insights section, while Find Friends lists users that match your interests.

Figure 5: Get a dose of inspiration and find photographers to follow with Daily Trending.

Closing Thoughts

Although Pixelfed has been around for quite a while, it still might feel a bit like a work in progress rather than a finished product. The current incarnation has done a lot of things right, and new features are popping up on a regular basis. But the fact that most instances offer only limited storage and are maintained by volunteers is something you need to consider. It still remains to be seen how successful individual Pixelfed instances will be at moderating as they grow in popularity. Opting for Pixelfed is not a zero-sum game, though. Nothing prevents you from using your current service while experimenting with Pixelfed. Even if you're not interested in using Pixelfed for sharing your photos, you might still want to use it to set up a portfolio to showcase your best work. In short, start slow and small, and see what works for you.


  1. Pixelfed: https://pixelfed.org/

The Author

Dmitri Popov has been writing exclusively about Linux and open source software for many years. His articles have appeared in Danish, British, US, and German magazines and websites. You can find more on his website at http://cameracode.coffee.

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