How to keep a family picture album this holiday season with Google Photos

With the holidays fast approaching many of us will soon be visiting with friends and family. This means gift giving, hearty meals and lots of photos. Making memories is one thing–sharing them with loved ones is something else altogether. In 2016 alone, it is estimated that 2.5 trillion photos will be shared online. While many of use just upload straight to Facebook, there might just be a better option for sharing your holiday memories.

The upcoming holidays will be full of great photo opportunities
The upcoming holidays will be full of great photo opportunities

Google Photos has been around longer than Facebook’s own ‘Moments’ photo sharing service. It’s also more robust and a little smarter when it comes to editing and organizing your photos. By default, Google Photos sharing feature is set to off thankfully, but what if you have a photo or album that you want to share?

Sharing on Google Photos is really simple. It can be done from your smartphone, any standard computer with internet access, or even a tablet with internet access. Google Photos is directly tied to your Google/Gmail account, so photos that are set to sync to the service will automatically be available. Photos that have not been synced will have to be uploaded to Google Photos before they can be included in shared Google Photos albums.

Google Photos allows you to organize by date, location or by people included in the photo

Let’s take a look at how to first make sure you have photos set to be shared within the Google Photos service. From your smartphone or tablet, open your ‘Photos’ app. Once opened you will see the search bar at the top with the three-lined menu icon. From this menu you can see what albums or photos you already have shared [Shared], your folders on your phone or tablet [Device folders], as well as a few other options such as [Trash] (where you can restore photos you may have accidentally deleted).

Click on [Device folders] to see which folders are set to automatically upload to the Google Photos service. Here you can select to turn off automatic uploads of various folders on your device. This can be very helpful to make sure you’re not uploading photos that you don’t need to automatically back-up and to verify that your photos are being stored off of your device for back-up purposes.

Google Photos share, edit, and delete functions are visible at the top right
Google Photos share, edit, and delete functions are visible at the top right

Once you’ve verified which photo folders are set to be stored online, or in “the cloud”, you can directly choose an album or photo to be shared. The options to share a photo or album are plentiful. You can send a direct link to shared photos right to a contact name from your device. Just tap a photo and you will see the share icon to the far left. It looks like a single dot that splits into two other dots, with lines connecting. You will also see that you can create a direct link, post directly to Facebook, save to your Google Drive, or even post in Google Hangouts.

The process is very similar if you choose to share from a PC or Mac. First, open a web browser and type in into the address bar. If necessary, log into your Google/Gmail account and from here you will see your most recent photos that have been uploaded to the service. On the left side of your browser window you can select [Albums] or the increasingly popular [Assistant].

Sharing holiday photos with family and friends is really fun and easy
Sharing holiday photos with family and friends is really fun and easy

If you click on a photo or album within the browser you will see the same familiar share icon towards the top of the window. You will also see icons to edit or delete the photo. If you click on the share icon, again you will see the familiar locations to share your photo or album. You can choose one of your contacts, to get a link (a webpage that can be shared through email or Facebook or Messenger), or directly to Google+ or Twitter, if available.

Once you’ve created a link for sharing, you also have the option to allow others the capability to add more photos to your shared album. This could be really handy for families that want to put all of their holiday photos in one location for everyone to view. Be sure to be careful with this feature though, as anyone that has access to the link can upload any photo they desire to the shared album.

Sharing photos during the holidays is a great way to connect with family and friends that you may not be able to visit. With the busy schedules most people employ over the holidays, it’s a great time saver to use the Google Photos service to share the special moments with those you care about.

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