Google Photos backup: How to back up photos in Google Photos

Google Photos backups are an absolute life-saver when migrating to another device or if you need to free up storage on your phone. All too often, smartphone users store every precious photo and video but never back them up. Not only does this cause issues if your phone has an issue, but it can also take several hours to transfer all of your photos from one device to another.

That’s where Google Photos steps in, making the task of backing up your photo library *relatively* painless. Whether you’re concerned about losing your photos, you’re preparing to get a new device, or you’re simply trying to free up some precious space on your phone, Google Photos is one of the best cloud services for this.

Here’s our handy guide to using Google Photos to back up your photo library.

How to back up photos in Google Photos

Storing your photos in Google’s cloud storage is simple but the instructions do vary depending on which device you have. You can sync the app across all of your devices and even use it to delete all images from the device once the backup is complete.

Take a look at how you can back up your photos for each of your devices.

Back up photos in Google Photos from an iPhone or iPad

Install the Google Photos app on your iPhone or the desktop app on your Mac. 

With iOS, Google Photos will need permission to begin a backup. You can select the option to allow Google Photos to access all images or select the ones you want to be backed up.

Once you’ve selected your photo permissions, the backup will begin automatically as evidenced by a blue ring around your profile image in the upper right-hand corner of the app.

On a Mac, you have to nudge it in the right direction: simply select the folder where your photos are stored. 

If you want to turn automatic syncing off, open the app and select Menu, then Settings, then Back up and sync, which you can tap to turn on or off.

CAVEAT ALERT: If you’re using Apple’s iCloud Photo Library, be wary. Sometimes your photos stored in the cloud are visible on your device, but not technically stored on them. As such, Google Photos might be unable to see and save said content. There’s an easy, if irritating, solution to this: make sure every file is saved on your smartphone/computer. Annoying, yes, but it’s a foolproof plan.

How to back up photos in Google Photos: Computer

  1. Step 1

    Install Backup and sync, the Google Photos desktop uploader.
  2. Step 2

    Sign in with the Google Account you’ll be using for Google Photos. 
  3. Step 3

    Select the option Back up photos and videos
  4. Step 4

    Select which folders you’d like to continuously back up to Google Photos. 
  5. Step 5

    Select the photo and video upload size you’d prefer; High-quality (unlimited storage) or Original (15GB storage’). 
  6. Step 6

    Select Start.

How to back up photos in Google Photos on Android

Download Google Photos from the Google Play Store – Pixel device users should have it as standard.

Once installed, Google Photos will ask for permission to back up your various folders online. Pick which folders on your phone you’d like it to have access to and then it automatically backs them up.

If you want to back up photos so you can free up storage space on your phone, opening Google Photo’s “free up space” tab will then let the app erase any images it’s backed up from your device to give you some more room. Simple.

How to Make Sure Your Photos are Saved

Now that you’ve gone through the backup process, you’re probably ready to move on with a reset of your device or to start deleting photos. It’s a good idea to check that everything is saved securely in Google Photos before making any changes.

Google Photos can be a little tricky because it may show your images in the app, but they may not have been saved just yet. To verify that all of your photos are stored, do this:

Open the Google Photos app and tap on the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner.

In the menu that appears, you will see how many images that have yet to backup. If this number is zero, everything on your device is saved in Google Photos. If this menu shows that some photos have yet to backup, make sure you’re connected to wifi and wait a little longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are my photos automatically saved to Google Photos?

If you want Google Photos to backup automatically you’ll likely need to make some changes to the Settings. The Google Photos app is designed to save battery life and cellular data so wifi and background permissions are set as a default.

To backup over cellular data rather than wifi open the Google Photos app and tap on the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner. Next, tap on App Settings and toggle the Cellular Data option on.

Next, go into your phone’s settings and toggle the background battery usage for Google photos on as well (the instructions to turn on background permissions will vary depending on your OS). Now, Google Photos should automatically backup anything in your camera roll.

How do I retrieve my pictures from Google Photos?

Once everything is backed up, accessing your photos is easy. All you need to do is open the Google Photos app and sign in using the same Gmail account everything is saved to.

Once logged in you should see all of your photos in the Google Photos app. Tap on a photo or album and select the share icon to send the photos to another person or save it somewhere else.

Can I save all Google Photos to my phone at once?

Yes. Whether you’re using an iOS or Android device you can save all of your photos to your device but it will take some time. iOS users will need to long-press a photo to initiate the option to select all of the photos they want to save. Then, tap the iOS share icon to save all photos to their device.

Android users will need to follow a similar process. Using the Android share icon you can save to your device or you can share the photos with another cloud service or contacts.

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