It’s that age old problem, your phone is telling you you have run out of space, and you can’t take that next picture, install that new app or see your latest emails! What do you do? Well normally we start deleting things, usually photos from our camera roll or apps that we think we don’t need any longer and then it turns out that we do.
I always find it sad when photos are deleted, especially when you don’t have the time to properly decide whether or not that image could one day become a treasured memory or a funny reminder of a time gone by.
Now you don’t need to worry any more, Google have been offering their product “Google Photos” for some time now. Principally it is an app that you install on your phone, that when configured properly will copy the photos off your phone and upload them into a photos directory inside your own Google account. The bits of magic that make the service so great is that it a) does this in the background and you don’t have to think about it (much), b) you have the option for unlimited free storage of these photos and c) that after your photos have been sitting safely on Google’s servers for around a month the original photo on your phone will get deleted freeing up your space whilst the photo remains available on any of your devices, not just the phone you took it on.
So how do you do it? Well first of all you need a google account, they come for free, and if you have a gmail email address or an android phone then you definitely have an account already. If you don’t have one yet then just go here and create one using your existing email address. https://accounts.google.com/signup?hl=en-GB
Remember to click the blue text that says “Use my current email address instead”. Follow through the instructions until the account has been completed.
If you already have and account or you have finished the above then head to your app store and search for Google Photos and click on Get or Install
Once the app has installed, open it up and you will be asked to sign in with your Google account.
When asked for permissions to access your photos, your camera or to send you notifications choose “Allow”
Ensure that you choose High Quality (free unlimited storage) and if you have a good data package on your phone then toggle the Use Mobile when there is no Wi-Fi option
When you are finished you will see your photos in the app,with a notification that items are backing up
IMPORTANT: The biggest secret with Google Photos is that you should open the app every few days. Apple especially turns background processes off after a period of time, and if you leave it thinking that your photos are uploading then you’ll be disappointed. This is why you should Allow Notifications from the App as it will prompt you to open the app every so often.
You can go into settings and play with various setting but the default are usually OK.
That’s it Google Photos app will be the place on your phone where you can see all of your photos forever, and the normal photo app for your device will just contain those for the last month or so.
But that’s not all, what about all those old photos on your computer, they are precious too, wouldn’t it be great to have them available on your phone through the Google Photos app? Well firstly your photos from your phone can also be seen on any web browser – just go to https://photos.google.com/ on your computer and you can see them full screen on your PC as well as on your phone. But is you also go here https://photos.google.com/apps you can download and install software onto your windows pc or mac that will also copy (but not delete) photos from your computer and put them up into your Google account. Now you’ll be able to view all the pictures you have ever taken on your phone / tablet / or web browser.
One last thing before I go is that you can search your photos by almost any term, be it a place name, the name of someone you know (you need to have identified who is who first of all by going to Albums -> People and click a face and tell Google who the face belongs to). But I have also found that it can find other things like receipts or animals.
Google Photos isn’t the only app / service that can do the above for you, Apple has its own iCloud, there is DropBox and Microsoft’s OneDrive but it is the only one I’m aware of that is free for an unlimited amount of space.
If you have any questions or need help setting up this on all your devices then please don’t hesitate to get in touch