How to backup, edit and share your most precious moments with Google Photos

One of my favorite Google apps is Photos. It is a free app with free unlimited storage, which automatically differentiates it from its nearest competitors in Dropbox and iCloud. It can be used across multiple platforms from Android to iOS and from Microsoft Windows to OSX. Google built Photos for everyone and it seems simple on the surface, but offers some of the best functionality you can get from a program that backs up your photos and videos in the Cloud.

It is all too common to still hear about users who simply don’t know how to back up one of the most important things in their lives – photos or snapshots of our lives. There’s a good chance, outside of family or pets, that you would put photos near the top of items to save if your house was on fire or washing away in a flood. You can replace jewelry and televisions, but you cannot replace your memories. So why would you leave it to chance to backup your photos on your mobile device, laptop or home computer?

If you fall into this category, stop leaving your photos at the risk of electronic failure or natural disaster and learn how to use Google Photos once and for all. At most this will take 30 minutes of your life, and if it does happen to save some precious moments, you will be happy you finally backed up your photos.

google photos

Getting started

If you already have a gmail account then you already finished the first step. If you don’t have a gmail account, click here and create one. You will need an account to associate all of your pictures and videos with so you can access the photos from any device in the future.

Download the app to your phone or tablet first from Google Play or Apple’s App Store. When you install Google Photos, you will still have the native photo app on your device so don’t get confused by having a “Gallery” and “Photos”. Photos is the name of Google’s app so if you want to use their services, make sure you are using that specific app.

While you’re at it, if you are at home and want to back up your home computer or laptop, click here, and install the Desktop Uploader. It works for Mac OSX and Microsoft Windows as well.

Once the apps or Uploader are installed, go ahead and sign-in using your gmail account. For the apps click “back-up and sync” and for the desktop point it to any folders that have pictures or just have it look over everything. No, it will not upload your pictures for everyone to see but it will upload them to the Cloud where your files will be safe from natural disasters or hardware failures.

If you don’t have any photos, take some.

Capture

Editing and Searching (within app)

Once your files are uploaded, go ahead and think of a picture from the past. At the bottom right, touch the search icon (If you don’t see it, open the menu > touch Photos.). In the search box go ahead and type something like “dog”, “beach”, or “San Diego” and hit enter. Once you do that it will bring up a list of pictures that you searched for. For a specific place like “San Diego” it will bring up pictures that are geotagged to that location.

Now that you have a picture you can feel free to edit it. Don’t worry, it won’t replace the original.

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I know it shows my cat in the “dogs” section. My cat is chubby. Google isn’t perfect either.

Adding a filter:

  1. Open the Google Photos app .
  2. Touch the photo you want to edit > pencil icon .
  3. At the bottom, touch the photo icon .
  4. Scroll through the filters at the bottom. Select a few to see how they look.Tip: Adjust a filter’s intensity by using the scale at the bottom.
  5. At the bottom right, touch the checkmark .
  6. At the top right, touch SAVE.

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Adjust, crop, or rotate a photo

  1. Open the Google Photos app .
  2. Touch the photo you want to edit.
  3. Touch the pencil icon . Choose what to do:
    • Tune icon : Automatically adjust color and exposure, manually change lighting, manually adjust color, or add effects.
    • Photo icon : Add or adjust a filter.
    • Crop icon : Crop or rotate.Tip: While you’re editing, you can touch and hold the photo to compare your edits to the original.
  4. At the bottom right, touch the checkmark .
  5. At the top right, touch SAVE.
  1. Go to photos.google.com.
  2. Open the photo you want to edit.
  3. At the top right, click the pencil icon . Choose what to do:
    • Tune icon : Automatically adjust color and exposure, manually change lighting, manually adjust color, or add effects.
    • Photo icon : Add or adjust a filter.
    • Crop icon : Crop or rotate.

    Tip: While you’re editing, you can click and hold the photo to compare your edits to the original.

  4. At the top right, click SAVE.

GO TO MY PHOTOS

Your edits will be applied to the photo, but you can undo them at any time.

Change the date & time stamp

You can change the date or time stamp for a photo or video using a computer.

  1. Using a computer, go to photos.google.com.
  2. Open the item you want to change.
  3. At the top right, click the info icon .
  4. On the right, click the date.
  5. Change the date or time > click SAVE.

Unlimited Storage

Google offers unlimited storage with a caveat – it can only be a certain size or smaller. That doesn’t by any means define the picture as low-quality, they just can’t be more than 16MP which most cameras fall under. And it also doesn’t limit you to backing up photos that are larger in size as Google does provide 15GB of free storage for original sized photos. And if you wanted, you could also create two gmail accounts, one for high quality back ups, and the other specifically for original quality. High quality photos are good for printing at 24 x 16 inches which is much larger than the typical sized picture.

All videos filmed at 1080p or less qualify for free unlimited storage as well.

High quality

  • Unlimited free storage
  • Regular cameras: Recommended for phones or point-and-shoot cameras that are 16 megapixels (MP) or less.
  • Uses: Good for typical printing and sharing.
  • Size: Save high-quality photos and videos while reducing size.

Original

  • Limited free storage: Uses your Google Account’s 15 GB of free storage, regardless of photo or video size.
  • DSLR cameras: Recommended if you take photos with a DSLR camera and want to maintain the exact original quality.
  • Uses: Recommended for printing large banners or to store original files.
  • Size: Stores your photos and videos exactly as you captured them.

The other super cool features

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Make animations & collages

Create collages or animations with your photos. You’ll need a phone or tablet to make these – it can’t be done on a computer yet.

  1. Using a mobile device, open the Google Photos app .
  2. At the top right, touch the create icon .
    (If you don’t see it: open the menu > touch Photos, then look for it.)
  3. Choose Animation or Collage.
  4. Select the photos you want to include.
  5. At the top right, touch CREATE.

Screenshot_20151107-103110

Create & edit stories

Get your best photos and videos arranged in a visual story to show the highlights of your trip or event. You might also get a story created for you automatically, but you can choose whether to save it.

Make a story

You’ll need to use a mobile device to create a story.

  1. Open the Google Photos app on a phone or tablet .
  2. At the top right, touch the create icon > Story.
  3. Select all the photos and videos you want to include.
  4. At the top right, touch CREATE.

View your story later by opening the main menu > Collections.

Screenshot_20151107-103146

 

Sharing

Share photos or videos

  1. Open the Google Photos app .
  2. Touch and hold a photo to select it.
  3. Select the rest of the items you want to share.
  4. At the top right, touch the share icon .
  5. Decide how you want to share. You can select an app, or choose Get link to send someone a link
  1. Go to photos.google.com.
  2. Place your cursor over a photo or video you want to share. Click the checkmark .
  3. Select any other photos you want to share.
  4. At the top right, click the share icon .
  5. Decide how you want to share. You can use a social network, or choose Get shareable link to send someone a link.

Share an album, story, or movie

  1. Open the Google Photos app .
  2. Open the album, story, or movie you want to share.
  3. Touch the share icon .
  4. Decide how you want to share. You can select an app, or choose Get link to send someone a link.

Summary

So now that you have been armed with the information to backup your photos, you no longer have an excuse to not get it done. Not only can you protect your precious memories for free with unlimited storage, but you also have super cool tools at your disposal for making your memories pop. You can put together collages, stories, animations and more. Give it a deeper look and you’ll realize Google Photos is the last app you’ll ever need for your photos and videos.

Learn more at Google Photos.

Google Play Store App link

Apple App Store Link