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Simple tips and tricks to tame your photo collection

Viewing an image on the Google Photos app

Google Photos is the most convenient photo management app for Android. It automatically syncs your pictures across all supported devices. Photos you take on your phone appear on your Android tablets in minutes when you connect your default Google account to the device.

Google Photos also contains other helpful features, such as animation, collage, and highlight video creations. We rounded up the most important ones to help you use the app to its fullest potential.

Download older photos if you’re running out of Google Photos storage

Having a local copy of your images ensures you don’t lose them if something unexpected happens to your Google account. Plus, you can access them without an internet connection, which is useful in an area with limited or no connectivity.

The Google Photos app lets you download images one at a time. Use the web version if you need to download multiple pictures. Follow the steps below to download your pictures from the app or web version of Photos.

The steps in this guide work on the Google Photos app for Android and iOS. We use the Android app for this tutorial. iPhone users can follow the same steps.

Download images on the Google Photos app

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Tap an image to open it.
  3. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner.
  4. Select Download. You don’t see this option if the image exists on your device.

Download your photos on the Google Photos website

  1. Use your PC browser to visit photos.google.com and sign in to your account.
  2. Click the circles beside the images to select them.
  3. Press Shift + D to download them.
  4. Alternatively, click the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner. Then select Download.
    Downloading images on Google Photos web version

Automatically upload your photos from your phone, tablet, or computer

When you install or use the Google Photos app on your device, you can set it up to automatically sync and back up your photos and videos. When activated, the app continuously uploads new photos and videos from your device to your Google Photos account in the cloud. You can upload them with the original quality or compress them to save storage.

Photos no longer offers free unlimited storage. You have only 15GB of storage unless you have a Google One subscription. Google Docs, Drive, and other workspace apps share this space.

Split your photos across OneDrive, Amazon Photos, and other cloud storage options. This way, you increase the amount of data you can store at no cost. Each service offers unique features, and you can take advantage of specific functionalities that one offers over another.

Delete and restore images from Google Photos

Deleting unnecessary photos frees up storage space in your Google account, especially if you’re nearing your storage limit. You want to keep images of family, friends, and other memories. You don’t want to save the random photos your phone shoots while it’s in your pocket.

Deleting pictures from Google Photos moves them to the trash. They stay there for 60 days before the app wipes them permanently if you back them up. They last 30 days if you don’t back them up. You can restore the pictures if you change your mind within this period or make a mistake.

Restore pictures from the Google Photos app

  1. Tap Library at the bottom of your screen.
  2. Tap Trash near the top of the screen.
  3. Select the image to recover and tap Restore.

Restore pictures from the Google Photos web version

  1. Use a PC browser to visit photos.google.com and sign in to your account.
  2. Click Trash from the left panel.
  3. Check the circles beside the images to select them.
  4. Click Restore in the upper-right corner.
    Restoring images on the Google Photos web version

  5. Select Restore to confirm.
    Confirmation pop up window for restoring images on Google Photos web app

Use Google Photos’ AI tagging features

Google Photos’ AI tagging feature combines Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to analyze the visual content of your images. It allows the app to automatically identify objects, people, locations, and more to create albums based on common elements. You can search, organize, and share related image collections easily.

When it misses, manually assign labels so that the app identifies similar images in the future. Turn on Face Grouping first so that the app scans your photos for facial features and creates a unique identifier for each person. If you don’t, it only scans for documents and other things. Here’s how to turn on Face Grouping and tag images in Google Photos.

Turn on Face Grouping in Google Photos

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner of your screen.
  3. Select Photos settings.
  4. Go to Preferences > Group similar faces.
  5. Turn on the Face Groups toggle. It may be activated by default.

Tag images in Google Photos

  1. Tap Search at the bottom of your screen.
  2. Tap View all beside People, Documents, or other categories.
  3. Tap a person, pet, or other things you wish to label. You’ll see all the photos of them the app identifies.
  4. Tap Add a name and type a name.

Google Photos identifies the person, pet, or thing and labels all related images. Google may ask you to confirm a label to improve its accuracy when you open the app.

Compress photos to maximize your free Google Drive storage

Google Photos discontinued free unlimited cloud storage in 2021. You may need to reduce the size of your pictures before uploading them to conserve space. You don’t need a third-party app for this method. It exists in-app and doesn’t reduce image quality. Quality loss only becomes noticeable when you enlarge images. Here’s how to compress them in Google Photos:

  1. Open the Photos app and tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner.
  2. Tap Photos settings.
  3. Select Backup.
  4. Scroll down and tap Backup quality.
  5. Select Storage Saver.

Photos’ search bar recognizes similar faces, landmarks, Wi-Fi passwords, phone numbers, hiking trips, and more. It’s a feature best explored on your own, but here are some examples of how to use it:

  • If you took a picture of your router’s password sticker, search the phrase “Wi-Fi password” to display the photo.
  • If you took pictures at a wedding, type “wedding” in the search bar to group the photos you took at the event.
  • If you took photos while walking in nature, type “hiking” to view those images. It’s smart enough to exclude photos with buildings present.
  • If you have several photos of boats and want to find a specific type of vessel, search for “ferry” to see the ferries in your gallery.

It’s not as intelligent as we sometimes like, and it can get confusing when including multiple-word queries. However, it’s a fantastic feature that can save hours of scrolling when you learn its quirks. You can even search by date to find old pictures.

Use Google Lens on existing photos

The basic search box has some powerful AI behind it, but Google Lens is where it shines. Use it to extract details from images and perform smart actions based on the identified content. You can also use it to translate text, identify plants and animals, shop for clothing, copy text to your computer, solve equations, identify board game parts, and more.

For example, Lens can copy texts from one device to another. Let’s say you have an image with text on your phone. The feature allows you to copy the text and send it to a connected computer. Press Ctrl or Command + V on your keyboard to paste the copied text into any open document.

Use collages, animations, and video highlights

Use the Google Photos app to edit your photos or videos into something more substantial than an album. The Collage feature lets you combine a maximum of six images into one. Meanwhile, Animation creates a GIF of up to 50 images.

There used to be a Movie option, but Google replaced it in October 2023 with Highlight video. While both features let you create video clips automatically, Highlight Video gives you more control over editing the music, clip order, and video length or style.

Here’s how to use the Animation and Highlight video features.

Use Animation in Google Photos

  1. Go to Library > Utilities.
  2. Select Animation.
  3. Select your preferred images.
  4. Tap Create in the upper-right corner. Your GIF is ready in seconds.

Use Highlight video in Google Photos

  1. Go to Library > Utilities.
  2. Select Highlight video.
  3. Search for a keyword. For example, “Food.”
  4. Select one or multiple suggestions. Then tap Preview in the upper-right corner.
  5. The app automatically selects images or videos related to your keyword. Tap them and select Remove if you don’t want them.
  6. Tap + to add more images or videos.
  7. Tap the music icon to insert sound from your device or choose from the app’s selections. You can also remove sound.
  8. Tap the square with dots to change your Highlight video’s aspect ratio.
  9. Tap Save in the lower-right corner.

To find your creations, go to the Search tab. Then scroll down and tap Saved creations.

Share albums with loved ones

Sharing albums is an ideal way to create a memory bank. You and your loved ones can collectively build and contribute to it or hold conversations in the comment section. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Go to Library and select an album.
  3. Tap + to copy or send the album link to other apps and invite specific people.
  4. Return to the Photos menu and tap + at the top of the screen if you don’t have any albums.
  5. Select Album to create a new one.
  6. Give your album a name and add photos or videos to it.
  7. Tap Share to copy or send the album link to other apps and invite specific people.

Create a locked folder

Google Photos’ locked folder feature helps you hide personal photos. You can only open the folder with your device’s security method. If you use a pattern to unlock your phone, that’s what you’ll use to access your private folder. Also, you can’t take screenshots of photos within it.

There are a few essential things to know before moving files into your locked folder:

  • Photos aren’t backed up. They’re gone for good if you change or lose your device.
  • Images are lost if you uninstall the Google Photos app.
  • Anyone who knows how to unlock your phone can access your private photos.
  • Other apps cannot access photos in the locked folder.

From downloading images for offline access to using AI tagging features for efficient organization, Google Photos is more than a simple gallery app. Its capabilities don’t stop at these tricks. You can do more on the mobile app. You’ll find other tools for photo editing, such as annotations, blurry image fixes, and photo enhancements.

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