You’ve no doubt heard a lot about Google’s brand new photo service and you might have even played around with it for a few minutes—but have you explored it properly?
We’ve hunted through every aspect of Google’s overhauled photo management platform to bring you the best features and tips that you might not have discovered yet.
1. Share and unshare
One of the best features introduced by Google Photos is the ease with which you can share an image or group of images through a link. Anyone with the link can see the selected pictures though, so you might want to review them regularly and delete the ones that are no longer required—choose Shared links on the web menu to do this.
2. Test the search capabilities
Google Photos’ intelligent search function is more intelligent than you might think. As soon as you click inside the search box in Google Photos on the web you’ll be given some suggestions, but you can look for almost anything: Try “train”, “beer”, “ice”, “dog” or even “selfie”, for example, or a photo type like “panorama” in your queries.
3. Send videos to YouTube
Despite the name, Google Photos handles your videos too—it will store an unlimited number of them if you’re happy with a maximum quality of 1080p. Head to the YouTube upload page and there’s a new option to import clips straight from Google Photos into your YouTube channel, where you can title, tag, and share them as required.
4. Backing up photos from other apps
Google Photos does a quick and clean job of sending pictures you snap on your smartphone or tablet to the cloud, but you can also do the same for apps like Instagram and WhatsApp on Android. From the Android app, open the app menu then tap Device folders to choose which folders to include or exclude from the back up process.
5. Press and hold to select
Most of us will have a pile of digital images on our devices and Google Photos offers a few tricks to make managing them more straightforward. For example, inside the mobile apps you can press and hold and then swipe to select multiple pictures—it’s almost as easy as using a mouse and a keyboard to drag across a bunch of photos.
6. Make stories from your photos
Stories in Google Photos are like guided albums with captions and a particular flow to the pictures, but you need to go through the mobile apps to create them. Tap the Create icon (a plus symbol) then choose Story—from there you can select the relevant pictures, add captions and locations, and change the cover photo.
7. Strip out geo-location data
The location data stored with your pictures helps Google to clump pictures together based on where they were taken, but you don’t necessarily want to include this data when you share photos with others. Head into Photos settings on the web and enable Remove geo-location in items shared by link to do exactly that.
8. Import photos from computers and cameras
The mobile apps for iOS and Android have been getting most of the attention—that’s where we take most of our photos after all—but you can upload photos from the desktop and memory cards too. Download the client for Windows or Mac, specify the folders you want to back up to the cloud, and Google takes care of the rest.
9. View photos and videos in Google Drive
Go into the Google Photos settings on the web and you can choose to view photos and videos stored in Google Drive through the Photos interface: This doesn’t actually move them over, so if you disable the feature the images disappear from view in Photos. It’s useful if you already have a lot of your content stored in Google Drive.
10. Download photos to the desktop
In Google Drive’s settings on the web, opt to create a folder showing your Google Photos and then install the Google Drive desktop client as well—everything uploaded from mobile and stored in Photos then gets saved to your local Google Drive folder. (If you also have the desktop uploader installed, you may end up with some duplicates.)