Make the most of Google Photos

Google Photos gives you free and unlimited cloud storage for your precious photos and videos, and an awful lot more besides. Check out our hints and tips.
Make the most of Google Photos

Google Photos (available on Android and iOS) launched a few weeks ago, offering us free, unlimited cloud storage for our hi-res photos and videos. It also does some very cool stuff, without even being asked. So it not only sorts your photos into date order, it also makes them wonderfully searchable by all sorts of subjects (more on that later).

Assistant is another great part of Google Photos. It can create collages, add special effects and even animate some photos for you. Then it gives you a little nudge and says: “Hey, look what I did for you!”

If you’re in the habit of taking lots of photos of the same subject quickly, Assistant may well decide to run them all together, and present you with your own mini home-movie. Great stuff.

We don’t think it’s fair to sit back and let Assistant do everything for you though, so here’s a few hints and tips to help you make the most of Google Photos.

1. It’s good to share

With Google Photos, it’s easy to create virtual albums and share your pics.

Simply ‘tap and hold’ to select your photos, click the share icon (3 dots connected by two lines at the top of the screen) and select ‘Receive link’.

This gives you a link that contains your selected photos. All you need to do now is copy it (from ‘Settings/Shared links’), and send it to your lucky friends and family.

2. Edit your photos

If you’re not quite happy with your finished photo - or are you’re feeling a bit creative – tap the pencil icon underneath the image. This opens up a range of editing options for you, including loads of Instagram-type filters and effects.

3. YouTube your videos

Google Photos keeps a hold of your precious videos too, so if you’d prefer to show them off on YouTube, here’s what to do.

Go to YouTube and tap the Upload button. You’ll see an option at the top that says “Import your videos from Google Photos. You can then pull any of your videos from Google Photos, and send it straight to the world’s most popular video sharing site.

4. Tell a story

One of the rather sweet things that Assistant does for you now and again, is to make some photos into a story that you can add comments onto.

Assistant won’t always choose your favourite photos though (it’s not human, remember) so come on – give it a break, and create your own story.

Tap the create icon (the plus symbol) near the top of the screen and select Story.

Choose up to five photos or videos, press create, and then add your words. When you’ve completed your story, don’t forget you can easily get a link for it (option no. 1 above, remember) and let others enjoy it.

5. Say what you see

The search feature on Google Photos is jaw-droppingly, spookily good. You’ll have lots of fun with it.

When you’re in your photos list, press and hold the blue magnifying glass near the bottom of the screen. You’ll then see your photos split by ‘Places’ and ‘Things’.

‘Places’ lets you search through your photos by location. All the hard work is done for you - Google Photos knows exactly where you took all your photos (we told you it was spooky) and automatically adds the locations for you, so you don’t need to do any manual tagging.

Head on over to ‘Things’, and again you’ll see that Google Photos has done it all for you. It identifies the most common things you take pics of, and groups your photos accordingly. So if you’re anything like us, you might see Food, Cars, Bikes, Beaches, Parks and Concerts.

You can also find what you’re looking for by using the search bar. Think of a word, any word ; aeroplanes, cats, cows, cakes and yes – even mobile phones, Google Photos knows what they all look like and will show you any photos containing them. We even tried catching it out with ‘BBQs’, but Google Photos was too good for us, and found all our favourite barbie moments going back years.

6. Search by people

If you’re very clever, you can also add ‘People’ to your automatic search. This recognises pretty much everyone in your photographs, and creates individual groups for them all.

This functionality isn’t available in the UK yet, so you’ll need a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app to make it appear on your Google Photos. Here’s how we did it:

  • Download the Tunnel Bear app (Android or iOS). Set it as a US VPN.
  • Uninstall Google Photos, and reinstall it again.
  • In Google Photos/Settings, turn on the ‘Group similar faces’ option.

After a short while you’ll be able to search by ‘People’. And you can the uninstall Tunnel Bear if you wish.

If you’ve got Google Photos, what do you think of it so far? Has it ever given you less than perfect search results, or is it right on the money? Feel free to comment below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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