How to use Google Photos as an online photo storage solution

To set the record straight, Google Images is not the same as Google Photos. Google Images is part of Google Search (http://images.google.com). Google Photos is a service of Google similar to Gmail, Google Calendar, or Google Drive.

Here is why I use Google Photos over Dropbox and Apple’s iCloud.

Dropbox and Apple’s iCloud limit how much storage you have and when you run out, you have to pay to get more. Dropbox doesn’t let you view others files/photos if your own storage is full. I don’t like paying if I can get away with a service that provides Unlimited Storage. On Google Photos, your photos and videos stay private until you share them and if you do share them, a select few or in an album, you can always delete the shared link so they become private again.

You might say, I don’t want my photos in the cloud or on the internet. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Blogger, Tumblr, SmugMug, Flickr, iCloud, Ello.co, WordPress, Craigslist, Email, Carbonite, CrashPlan or anywhere else that requires you to access your content through a web browser or backup your content to a server, you are already there in the cloud.

I’m not saying that you only rely on one service for all your photo storage needs. I recommend an external hard drive with two drives in one container that is set to RAID1 (copies your files to two hard drives or more instead of one), a backup service and Google Photos (iCloud or your choice).

I recommend using a personal Google account to store your photos online, not a work account. And I recommend turning on the extra security of 2-step authentication for your accounts (requires a cell phone or smartphone to receive a PIN to sign in every 30 days or remotely every time, in addition to your username and password – deters your account from being hacked).

What are the pros of Google Photos?

  • http://photos.google.com
  • A new service separate from Google Plus Photos, pulls from those but doesn’t link to the posts and pulls from PicasaWeb albums
  • Unlimited storage on the High Quality setting. Up to 16 MP (Megapixels) on photos, file is compressed and 1080p HD on videos (see cons about the Original Quality setting below)
  • Simple image editor and non-destructive editing, always able to revert to original image
  • Share to Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter or generate a short link to share anywhere
  • Back up all device photos from anywhere to one online location
  • Backup software available for Windows and Mac, built in on Chrome OS, drag and drop into http://photos.google.com with Google Chrome from any operating system, and apps for your Android or iOS device (https://photos.google.com/apps)
  • Automatically (per your settings) will create Panoramas, Collages, Movies, Stories (Digital Scrapbook), Animations, Timelapses (or you can create some these yourself whenever you want) and even more if you allow your location history to be shared with Google Photos
  • Attach singles or albums to your Gmail message
  • Videos can be copied to your YouTube channel as needed from YouTube Upload
  • Photos can be managed from Google Drive
  • Accidentally delete your online photo(s), you have 60 days to get it back from the Google Photos’ Trash
  • The photo’s original date can be changed once online (helps when you’ve uploaded very old images that were scanned on a newer date)
  • Photos can be arranged in an online album
  • Even if you never added keywords to your photos in the metadata, you can type “beach” and if you ever went there, Google will find all photos with a beach in it using their Google Search machine-learned ability of deciphering the objects in a photo

What are the cons of Google Photos?

  • Original Quality setting will eat up your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos storage. That setting uploads any file at its original size. When you run out of space the files will be auto compressed to the size for High Quality unless you pay a monthly fee to receive more storage. Prices are comparative to Apple’s iCloud storage.
  • Deleting photos from Google Drive will delete them in Google Photos
  • Deleting photos from the Google Photos app on your device will delete them online but deleting them from the Android Photo Gallery or iOS Camera Roll will only delete them on your device and not everywhere else
  • Albums need to be recreated online

How do I switch from Original Quality to High Quality?

  1. Click on “Upload size” under Settings on Android & iOS (for your device) or view the top set of instructions for setting it from your computer’s web browser: https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6156060?hl=en&ref_topic=6131427&vid=1-635778908093819030-165586884
  2. General help for choosing a storage size: https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6220791?hl=en&ref_topic=6131427&vid=1-635778908093819030-165586884

Need to watch a video?

Edited October 9, 2015:

The only thing I wasn’t sure of in your article was Picasa integration. Is there any?

It’s available. Face tags, in most recent update (on Mac), won’t upload to there. They aren’t ready for it yet. You either use Google Photos Backup (which runs in the background and make sure your setting is High Quality) or you use Google’s Picasa and sync each album up as you need. I would still recommend using the Chrome browser for Google Photos and uploading your images, it seems simpler.

Oh, and is there a way to generate my own collage with a series of pics, or do I have to let Google automatically do that for me only?

Mobile devices have these features. You’ll need the latest iPhone, Nexus or Samsung phone/tablet to do these actions.

Source: About Google Photos

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