Tabblo Lifeboat

This is an application that downloads all your tabblos from Tabblo, the photo-sharing story-telling site I helped build, and which is due to be shut down on May 30, 2012.

Getting the program

Tabblo Lifeboat runs on either Windows or Mac. Download the version that’s right for you:

Running the program

When you run Tabblo Lifeboat, a new window appears in your browser. Enter your Tabblo username and password. Other than that, you have only one choice to make: whether to download full-sized photos or not. If you do, it will take much longer. If you don’t, you’ll only have photos at the size they appear in your tabblo.

Once you’ve entered your account information, click Start. It will connect to Tabblo, log you in, get a list of all your tabblos, and then start downloading them one at a time. This can take a long time. The green-on-black window shows the geeky stuff happening behind the scenes, and should give you a sense of the progress.

If nothing seems to happen, try disabling your anti-virus program, your firewall, anything that might interfere with its operation. Run the program again, you’ll get a new browser window, and it might work better.

If you need to stop the program, just click Quit, and it will stop. You can then close the browser window. Re-launch Tabblo Lifeboat when you want to continue downloading. Once you enter your username and password and click Start again, it will pick up where it left off.

Eventually, all your tabblos will be downloaded, and a message at the top of the browser window will show you the location of your tabblos.

What you get

When Tabblo Lifeboat is done, in your Documents folder, you will have a folder called Tabblos. In there will be a folder named for your Tabblo username. You can use Tabblo Lifeboat with a number of different usernames, and each will download into its own folder. In the username folder will be a sub-folder for each tabblo. Each sub-folder has two HTML versions of the tabblo:

In addition to each tabblo in its own sub-folder, you will have three HTML files that act as a table of contents:

All of these files are in a form that you could put on a web server so the pages are viewable on the web. How to do this is complicated, and I’m afraid I can’t help with it. If you do this, keep in mind: the access controls on Tabblo are not present in these files. If you put a private tabblo on a web server, anyone will be able to see it.

Change history

Version 2.6

A few minor improvements.

Version 2.5

The Lifeboat is now multi-threaded, which means it will download tabblos much faster.

The original HTML from Tabblo is now saved as tabblo.html in each folder.

Version 2.4

Some tabblos fail with an “HTTP Error 500.” This is most likely due to a photo with non-English letters or symbols in the filename. Now those tabblos are skipped, and other tabblos continue to download. To fix those tabblos, you will either have to remove the photo from the tabblo, or delete the tabblo entirely. I can’t tell you how much I wish this weren’t so...

Version 2.2

Sometimes, the downloaded tabblo zip file seems OK, but is actually missing some images. Tabblo Lifeboat now checks for this when the zip file is downloaded, and will retry if parts are missing. It will also check all your previously downloaded tabblos in case you had downloaded them with an earlier version.

Version 2.1

Added a choice about whether to download original photos or not.

You can download from more than one account without getting things tangled up.

Better indications of current status, and better handling of starting and stopping.

Version 2.0

Added a browser-based UI.

More help

If you’re having trouble getting your tabblos, let me know. Maybe there’s something I can change to make it work better.

If you know what you’re doing with Python, you can hack on the code for Tabblo Lifeboat yourself.


Peter Portante 6:26 AM on 23 Jan 2012

Hi Ned,

Thanks for polishing this. It works great.

It is super slow, though, given the resources HP is probably devoting to the site. Is there a way you could indicate when the script is waiting for the first byte back from the request vs. slowness of transfer speed?

Thanks again!


Eric Foster 11:01 AM on 24 Jan 2012

Thank you SO much Ned!

Nice work, which I'm sure Tabbloers will appreciate!

and "Hi" Pete!

Eduardo Affonso 11:28 AM on 24 Jan 2012

Good job, Ned! Thank you A LOT.

JamesNicolay 4:53 PM on 24 Jan 2012

This is very helpful! Thanks, Ned!

Peter Portante 8:11 PM on 24 Jan 2012

FYI: All 175 Tabblos were eventually downloaded. I never had to rerun the program, I started it on the day I was notified about v2.0, the 21st, and it just completed sometime today (not sure when).

Thanks Ned!

Ps - "Hi" Eric!

Rhonda Ewers 12:46 AM on 25 Jan 2012

Thank you and bless you Ned! We love our tabblos - they are the stories of our lives...

Peter Portante 9:03 PM on 28 Jan 2012

Ned, nice work on 2.2. I reran it, after moving my tabblos into the account name subdirectory and it found a bunch that needed to be re-downloaded. Thanks! -peter

David Boudreau 3:00 AM on 2 Feb 2012

Thank you for this Ned! Extremely considerate, and I think I've got all my tabblos downloaded to my PC. However, it seemed to hang on one single particular photo in my last tabblo, so I just copied and pasted the URL I saw in the running log, and downloaded the zip file of that tabblo directly. All photos in the tabblo appear to be fine except for the one photo that may have gotten corrupted: /tabblo_1832449/photos/tabblo_P8220129.JPG (giant leather boot without any people standing in front of it). One photo out of many is not bad considering I liked to cram a ton of photos in many of my tabblos! Anyway just thought I'd mention it since Lifeboat didn't seem to officially "finish" cleanly. I had selected "include original full size photos (slower)" but let it run for a few hours, still hung at the same spot... I also tried restarting Lifeboat and it wouldn't even display the "Read 1234567 bytes" info as when originally run, just appear to get stuck at the "Downloading 12 of 12" message. Here's the last few lines of my log when I first ran it:

Downloading 12 of 12:

Read 1048576 bytes..

Read 2097152 bytes..

Read 3145728 bytes..

Read 4194304 bytes..

Read 5242880 bytes..

Read 6291456 bytes..

Read 7340032 bytes..

Read 8388608 bytes..

Read 9437184 bytes..

Read 10485760 bytes..

Read 11534336 bytes..

Read 12582912 bytes..

Primoz 10:57 AM on 13 May 2012

HI! What does it mean: "Retrying... (Didn't get a complete zip file.)" and continuing the d/l? Will I miss some of my pics?

Ned Batchelder 11:47 AM on 13 May 2012

@Primoz: that message means some data wasn't downloaded, but the retrying will automatically keep trying until it is complete. You shouldn't have to worry about it.

Dennis Irwin 10:20 AM on 14 May 2012

Hi, I have tried "Lifeboat" several times and get a browser msg: "Error on Page." Any idea what the problem could be? I have 46 Tabblos.

Thanks, //Dennis//

LostAbroad 11:29 AM on 14 May 2012

Hi Ned, I got now for 3rd time the following message:
"Retrying... ([Errno 22] invalid mode ('wb') or filename: 'tabblo_442002\\photos\\tabblo_=?ISO-8859-1?Q?y=F6maisemaa.jpg?=')
[Errno 22] invalid mode ('wb') or filename: 'tabblo_442002\\photos\\tabblo_=?ISO-8859-1?Q?y=F6maisemaa.jpg?='
and all stops. Any idea what to do?
LostAbroad (184 tabblos)

Ned Batchelder 2:09 PM on 14 May 2012

Everyone: as problem reports come in, I'm working on them privately with the people affected. I'll post solutions or updated code here as we find solutions.

Maria 11:03 PM on 14 May 2012

I just wanted to Thank you, I will let you know if i experience any problems.
Instructions are very clear and it is super nice of you to give us this great gift !

Primoz 5:31 PM on 15 May 2012

I'm sorry to bother again but here's what happened (after 3 days of downloading):
Downloading 51 of 106:
Retrying... (HTTP Error 500: INTERNAL SERVER ERROR)
I've tried to restart 3 times and it stops after several tries saying what you read. Any help?

Maria 5:36 PM on 15 May 2012

I've been trying to downlaod since last night and have only got to 5 of 32, is that normal?

Ned Batchelder 5:38 PM on 15 May 2012

It often takes a long time to download the tabblos, especially if you are getting full-size photos. As long as it seems to be making progress, however slow, it will finish.

George Libbares 10:56 PM on 15 May 2012

Thanks Ned. I appreciate this a lot.

Ned Batchelder 8:10 PM on 16 May 2012

@Primoz: the "HTTP Error 500" probably is due to a photo with a non-English letter or symbol in the file name. Unfortunately, there's no way to fix this. You should either delete the photo from the tabblo, or delete the whole tabblo. If you do this, you'll need to reset Lifeboat's bookkeeping also. In your Documents folder is a Tabblos folder. In there is a folder named for your Tabblo username. And in there is a file named ids.txt. Delete ids.txt, and restart Lifeboat.

Maria 9:16 PM on 17 May 2012

You are the BEST !!! I have no words to say Thank you !

RosaneMar 8:44 PM on 18 May 2012

Ned, para mim dá erro de página, nem sequer abre o aplicativo. O que posso fazer?

Loes 5:36 PM on 19 May 2012

It stopped but I'll try it again.

Andre. 2:03 PM on 21 May 2012

Hi, Ned.
Thank you for doing this.
Here's what I'm getting :

Message: Expected identifier
Line: 103
Char: 43
Code: 0
URI: http://localhost:10025/

Message: 'harvest' is undefined
Line: 174
Char: 1
Code: 0
URI: http://localhost:10025/

Nothing else happens.


Jodi 12:38 PM on 22 May 2012

Hi Ned,

Thanks so much for this. I keep trying to download but the program keeps stopping after only a couple of seconds. I keep getting the below error message. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks so much!

Status: Died!

Tabblo Lifeboat has unexpectedly stopped. Close this browser window and re-launch Tabblo Lifeboat.

umauma 6:24 PM on 22 May 2012

Ned, you have always been so helpful..Will miss Tabblo..tabbloers. Let us know what you're going to be doing..
All the best and thankyou for all your help.

Joanne Clark 2:16 PM on 23 May 2012

ned, i have forgotten my password. now what do i do? joanne

Eric 8:27 PM on 23 May 2012

Joanne, you should use the "Forgot your Password" link, which will send your account information to the email address you used to sign up to Tabblo.

Otherwise I'm afraid you're out of luck.

Zzing 8:58 PM on 23 May 2012

Hi Ned, I seem to have the same problem as a couple of the others above ie lifeboat dies or stops before anything can happen. It is usually colapses within a minute of trying to log on. Sometimes it says unable to log on just before closing. I will keep trying but keeping fingers crossed that there might be a way. Thank you!

Jennifer 7:56 AM on 24 May 2012

Hi Ned! I tried to use the lifeboat, and though I entered my username and password and clicked start, nothing is happening at all. What should I do?

KIm 12:40 PM on 24 May 2012

Hi Ned-
Thank you for this! It is telling me "cannot login"... I can login to Tabblo directly, so I know my username and password is correct... any thoughts?
Thanks, Kim

Ned Batchelder 1:44 PM on 24 May 2012

@Kim: the Lifeboat seems to be pickier about username than the site itself. Be sure you get the capitalization right. If you click the "Hi Kim" link at the top-right of, it will take you to your page, the last part of the URL is your properly capitalized username. For instance, mine is, so my username is "ned".

Ned Batchelder 1:45 PM on 24 May 2012

To others having problems with "nothing happening". Try disabling any anti-virus or firewall you have running, that might improve things.

Jennifer 3:37 PM on 24 May 2012

Thanks Ned! My firewall had already been disabled, as were anti-virus programs. I'm on a Mac, if that helps. I still enter my info and press start, but there's no indication that anything is going on.

DVP 10:00 AM on 30 May 2012

Hi Ned. Thanks from one of the old users. :) You guys really made a difference to a lot of people. The thoughtfulness of this programming is touching. Cheers!

Kara Frost 10:18 AM on 30 May 2012

Hi, Ned. Tried saving via Lifeboat to no avail -- login failed repeatedly even though the site logs in fine. I ended up exporting my 100+ tabblos individually to keep them, and as I went through I noticed a few comments you left on my photos a few years ago. I realized it was the same Ned and wanted to come back to this page and thank you for all your work, from the nuts and the bolts to the personal comments. It was a coincidence that I visited the site this week after a long absence, and I'm so glad I made it in time to save these pieces and say farewell to the great tool and community that Tabblo provided. THANK YOU!

Kara Frost 10:30 AM on 30 May 2012

Gah!! I just caught the comment from 5/24 about capitalization, which I must have missed when I first downloaded. So I did everything manually and all was well. Tried again just now with a capital letter out of curiosity and it's running fine! Oh, well. Just wanted you to know there was no bug... works like a charm. :) Cheers!

Anna 8:34 PM on 30 May 2012

Thanks so much. I haven't spent much time on tabblo in a while, but I'd hate to lose my tabblos. This worked perfectly!

Jessica 4:38 PM on 3 Jun 2012

ARGH - I missed the boat! I didn't know it was shutting down, and now it's too late. what a disaster. :(

Peter 8:01 PM on 3 Jun 2012

Jessica, if it is any consolation, neither of our Tabblo accounts were notified of the shutdown date. I am sorry that you lost all of your pictures and Tabblos. :( -peter

Jason Scott 10:30 AM on 4 Jun 2012

Hi, Jason Scott of Archive Team, an activist group that tries to rescue sites containing user content before they get arbitrarily shut down. We took an entire copy of this past month before shutdown - if you want to reach me at jason at textfiles dot com, I can see about if we have a copy of your lost tabblo.

Sarah T 9:27 PM on 4 Jun 2012

Wow, I just found out that HP shutdown tabblo. Fortunately, I had screen captured most (but not all) of them. Because I had marked mine as private, Jason wasn't able to retrieve them.

I can't believe that HP didn't notify their users. How difficult would it have been for HP to email tabblo users?! I loved tabblo! Ned, thank you for all the work that you did creating tabblo. I will sorely miss it.

sonali 3:09 PM on 14 Jun 2012

Hi Ned thanks for your timely help however, I lost all my pictures and it hurts!!! I had my very personal pics which I might not get back as my dvd where I saved a back up is also sad. I cant believe HP did not inform its users of the shut down. In this day and age I thought companies cared for consumers no matter what as their brand name is associated with their products and more over big companies are not limited to just one product. I saw this post today, June 14 when I tried uploading my daughters 4th birthday pics and got to know that I even lost both of my babies birth pics too.

However, congrats to those who got to save their stories/pics at the nick of the time and once again thanks to you Ned for providing a solution.


Jason Scott 9:23 PM on 14 Jun 2012

For people who are wandering into this thread, please see if your photos are available here:

Kristn 2:52 PM on 23 Jun 2012

Jason, thank you so much for your work! I was able to retrieve many of my pictures! You have no idea how much this means to me! Thanks so, so much!!!!

Christiane 3:54 AM on 28 Jun 2012

Tabblo is deaply missed!

I'm trying to get my old tabblos, but for some reason it does not work.
My firewall is disabled but I get this message:

Logging in:

HTTP Error 405: Not Allowed

Any help available?

Best regards


Ned Batchelder 6:49 PM on 28 Jun 2012

@Christiane: the site has been shut down, so the Lifeboat is no longer useful. The Internet Archive has downloaded the public tabblos though, you can try your user name at to see if they are available there.

Ken 12:38 PM on 6 Oct 2012

Thank you so much for supplying this info. I had no clue that the site was shutting down. I never received any emails or anything. I haven't been there for quite some time, so I had no idea all of my 79 tabblos would be gone forever! I appreciate the link being made available so that I could download all of my images and thankful that it worked for me.

michaela 1:37 PM on 21 Jun 2013

Hi I am having trouble downloading my Tabblos - is the Tabblo lifeboat still functioning?

Ned Batchelder 1:43 AM on 22 Jun 2013

@michaela: see the link two comments above for where you might find your photos.

Jeff 5:21 PM on 6 Feb 2014

Ditto what Ken said! No ideal all my tabblos had disappeared. Thanks for all the info!

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