Sunday, July 30, 2017

Google Photos - How to Use it and Why to Use it

We have had one of those summers that just seems to go on forever. Absolute perfection. We have had a perfect balance of lazy days and busy days. We have gone on day trips, and vacation trips. We have been on trails and been to the ocean. We have done tons of household projects, and also watched tons of Netflix. 

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One of my favorite projects I've completed this summer is a full blown digital cleanse. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but just haven't gotten a round to it until now. I spent the month of June converting all my Microsoft documents/spreadsheets to google docs/sheets, deleting all old and unnecessary files, consolidating apps on all our devices, color coding and organizing my google drive, purging my Pinterest files, and taking both my school and personal emails down to 0, that's right ZERO emails. But my favorite digital cleanse project by far is the restructuring of my digital photos. Enter Google Photos. 

I actually didn't intend to include a digital photo reorganization in my digital cleanse because I'm actually really obsessive about how I store my photos. Usually, around the end of the month, I upload all my photos from my phone and organize them into folders by year and month, then cross reference them by videos, boys' pictures, blog pictures, etc. You get the point. So I didn't think I needed much help there. But then, I crushed (and I mean crushed) my old phone (RIP Moto X) and had to get a new one. You know how when you get a new one, it just takes a few days to figure things out. Well it was in this time period that I got sucked into google photos because the new phone kept using it as a default. Since I'm a Google purist at heart, I can't believe it took me this long to get on board with the photos app, but I am so glad I found it. 

So all that to say, if you aren't using google photos for your digital photos, you are totally missing out! Here's all the things I love about google photos and a little tutorial along the way. 


To get the most out of Google Photos, you have to sync your phone (or computer, or device) to the app. It will automatically ask you to do this in the process of setting up. What this does is backs up all your photos and videos as you take them. As your device recognizes other apps where you have photos (messaging, Instagram, Facebook (I'm assuming)), it will prompt you to back up photos from these places too. You can easily go into the settings and change your sync options. For example, I was syncing from my camera app AND Instagram, and then realized that I was getting double photos synced, because all of my Instagram photos come from my camera app. So I just turned off the Instagram Sync. To do this, just go to settings, back up and sync, choose folders to sync. Bam. Done. 

One more thing on syncing. Once your apps are synced, if you try to delete a picture from your camera app, Google Photos will notify you that if you delete a photo, then it will also be deleted from Google Photos - you know because they are all synced up now. Don't worry, though. Google Photos totally has you covered. It took me a while to figure this out, and it was honestly the feature that pushed me over the edge into full blown commitment to this app. To clear you phone's storage, simply go into settings on the google app, and click free up space. And you know what? The app automatically clears out any pictures and videos that are taking up space on your phone (only the ones that have been backed up by google photos). So then you have cleared up storage for more google apps AND you have access to all your photos through the App. 

This feature is my absolute favorite feature of Google Photos. Because as I mentioned earlier, I love cross referencing my photos so I can find exactly what picture I'm looking for. The cool thing about the photos app however, is that it recognizes faces, places, and category of picture, and sorts them for you! Say what? 

Here's what the front page of my albums looks like. It also sorts the images from wherever they came from on your phone (camera, downloads, etc.)

The "People" album let's you identify people in pictures. Then it can find all those people and sort them. So now I can just search for a specific person and it will pull up all of the pictures of them. It is ridiculously accurate, but occasionally does mix up Lex and Eli. They do look an awful lot alike. 

If you have your location turned on, the places feature will categorize by city. 

But the really fun category is the "things" category, which categorizes your pictures by what they are. It's interesting to see how the photos get categorized. 

Among others, I have a playgrounds category in this folder. 

Interestingly, I apparently also have enough pictures of turtles in my photos that there's a category just for them.

And one more thing, you can also customize your albums if you need a folder that's not already listed. For example, I started an album for the screenshots I'm using in this blog post so I could find and upload them easier. 

Much like all google apps, it is very easy to share photos with other people. You can share a single photo or an album. What I love though, is that other people can also add photos to that same album. So when we were on vacation, I started an album for vacation pictures. Then my mom and sister in law uploaded all of their pics too so we all had a shared album and could access all the photos. Perfect and practical. 

A Few More Things

The Assistant tab also has some really cool things. For example, you can create and order photo books (although I haven't gotten too far with this one so I can't attest to how easy it is). There are also animations, which puts multiple photos into a fast running slideshow loop. You can do some really fun things with this one. 

You can also make collages which I also haven't tried yet. 

Editing: You can edit photos within the photos app but there aren't a whole lot of options. There are great filters and you can crop and adjust light, etc. but not much more than that. For the record, my favorite editing app right now is Snapseed. It's also made by google so totally compatible. AND you can sync it right to the google photos app so that every photo you edit gets automatically uploaded. 

So that's my pitch for Google Photos. If you don't have a picture management system (other than just dumping them into a folder), this one is really easy to use. I highly recommend it! 

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