Saturday, June 30, 2018

If you can scan a code, you can get our Google Photos eBook FREE

Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos - 2nd Edition

  • 25 more pages, complete index (see table of contents below)
  • All instructions up to date
  • Covers new features like Shared Libraries, Google Lens, Favorites and more
  • Updated videos
  • eBook available NOW for anyone who can scan this code

Print version will be on Amazon by Aug 1

Did you know that Google Photos can scan QR codes if you take a picture of the code, then use the Google Lens button?
If you don't know how to scan that code, watch Episode 146 of What Does This Button Do? We demonstrate the Google Lens method and much more in this 45 minute show.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Google Photos - Your questions answered

We got your questions! Lots of them! We'll answer them live as we record Episode #145 of What Does This Button Do?"

We answer a lot of questions about Google Photos everywhere we go. This week, we solicited questions for our YouTube show, "What Does This Button Do?"
We got a lot of responses!
How do you get photos taken on Samsung Galaxy 8 from gallery to Google Photos automatically (ie. without having to select them/ tap share/ tap upload to G.P.) ?
LOVE your show.. I've learned a lot from listening to you...

Ed and Deanna
I have google photos and when I open up the app I see my photos, yea. If I “free up space” it gives me the message “delete 399 items...” Sure I want free up some space. But where can I recall these photos one month or one year down the road? Until I am certain I can get my photos back, I’m not throwing anything away!  Ken
 How do I get Google photos on my computer & then print them. Thanks, Eleanor
All my pictures are organized in folders and sub folders.  How is this handled in Google Photos?
Question re: taking a selfie using OK Google mentioned in one of your previous shows.I have a Moto G phone with the OK Google app.  If I start with OK Google and ask it to take a selfie, the camera goes on, however, it won't reverse from a regular photo to selfie mode.  Any suggestions?
So I’m using Snapseed to add text to my photos on Google.  If I take pics with iPhone is there a quicker way to add text and that picture will be picked up by Google.    Adding text works but makes me miss PicasaThanks Phyllis
 I'm a long time Google user so I have a great deal on 94 Gb of their online storage. But, alas, it is now full of photos and videos that I have plenty of space to upload to other cloud providers with greater capacity at a more favorable price. My question is twofold: how can I quickly, easily, and painlessly delete those Google stored photos; and how can I prevent that drive from filing up again? Rainer
Can you put Google Albums in alphabetical or date added order. I’m always scrolling through the list. Tim
I have at least 1000 photos taken with 5 different cameras over the last 20 years. All are jpg format, and all are on a single Windows drive, (yes, I do have backups).  I need to eliminate duplicates, group by events, vacations, family (plenty of overlap) etc.  I fear that if I upload to Photos (I can accept the reduction in resolution) things will get hopelessly scrambled. Please suggest a plan of attack. Jack 
Those are just some of the questions we will answer. If you tune in while we're live, you can also ask questions in the chat.  

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Google Photos "Free Up Space" command is scary

An opening screen of Google Photos encourages users to
remove photos from their device
The moral of the following story is this: Make a separate backup of your photos, either to your computer, or to another cloud storage like OneDrive or Dropbox BEFORE using the Free Up Space command on Google Photos.

Why? Because you want a true backup of your photos. Let's step thru the count:
  1. You take a photo with your phone, at this point you have one copy of that photo
  2. Google Photos copies that photo online to your Google account, now you have two copies of that photo, the original on the phone and a backup in the cloud.
  3. Free Up Space removes the original photo from the phone, now you have only one copy of that photo.
One copy does not a backup make!

Here's the story

One of the reasons that people start using Google Photos is the advertised capability to remove the photos from your phone after they've been "backed up" to Google Photos. I teach a lot of newbies how to use Google Photos and the conversation goes something like this:
User: I've installed Google Photos, so now I can delete my pictures from Gallery, right?Me: No, do not delete using the native Gallery or Photos app. You need to use the Google Photos command for removing photos User: What command is that?Me: In the Google Photos app, tap the 3-line menu, then Free Up Space. The Free Up Space command will delete them all in one tap, AND it will only delete photos from the phone that have been successfully uploaded to your Google Photos account.
So far, so good. My main goal is to teach them the proper command. I don't want them using the trash can (which deletes both the device copy and the cloud copy) or using the native app to delete photos (which will delete photos that haven't been uploaded to Google Photos yet.)

The second part of the conversation goes like this:
User: Ok, I tapped the Free Up Space command and now I get a message that 1,367 of my photos will be deleted and this cannot be undone. I'm scared.Me: Good! That tells me that your photos are precious to you. Let's be double-sure they're safe before you delete the originals from the phone. If you do these two things first, you can Free Up Space without fear ...

  1. View your photos on a computer. If you can open a browser on a computer, go to and log in with your Google Account username and password, you should see all your photos. This will give you the confidence that they have, indeed, been copied from your phone to your Google account, AND, that you know the username and password for that account!
  2.  If you have another cloud storage account with sufficient space, such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or Amazon Prime Photos - they all have the ability to automatically upload photos from your phone, similar to Google Photos. I use OneDrive. I have a Terabyte of storage there because I pay $99/year for Office 365. There is a OneDrive app for my iPhone with a setting to upload all photos. Only after I see that is complete, do I use the Free Up Space on Google Photos.

    If you don't have another cloud storage service, you can connect your phone to your computer, or an OTG Flash drive to copy all photos to that storage. You can also connect your phone wirelessly to any hard drive, using a travel router like the one we demonstrate here.

    Note: Apple's iCloud Photo Library is yet another cloud backup solution, but if you use that, you cannot use the Free Up Space command because the photos will be removed from iCloud when they are removed from device.
Love your photos? Back them up!

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bad News about Picasa ... but we were warned

How do you upload photos from your computer to Google Photos? 
If you're still using Picasa to do this, you're in for a rude awakening next time you try to click that green button - or any option for "Upload." 

If you don't use any upload or sync options with Picasa, then you have nothing to worry about. The Picasa software on your computer still works for managing your folders of photos on your computer, for editing them, and for making collages. You'll just need to use other methods to upload them to your Google Photos account online.

We were warned

The official announcement is in the Google blog here
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, it's been predicted ever since Google retired the Picasa program. The problem is that we've been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that the upload from Picasa has continued to work as long as it has. Just last week, I used Picasa to upload pictures from my computer to Google Photos, now "all of a sudden" it doesn't work. 

If you want to know how to upload photos to Google Photos from your computer, that was the subject of Episode 138 of What does this button do?

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Google Photos: Everything you need to know

I wrote a book about Google Photos. It's titled Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos. The subtitle is "Your lifetime of photos, effortless and free." I keep thinking, if Google Photos is so effortless, why do I need a 100+ page book to teach how to use it?
I've come up with these 14 points as all you really need to know. The links to videos are for premium members. Please leave a comment if you think I left something out, or got something wrong. If you take a lot of photos and wish that they were all together and safe so you never had to worry about them - Google Photos is truly the best option.
Member Tutorial Videos:
497.GP-Install on iOS
496.GP-Install on Android
490.GP-Backup Complete
500.GP-Install Backup and Sync for Windows
476.GP-Manual upload from smartphone
475.GP-How to upload photos from an external hard drive
474.GP-Manual Upload from Mac Photos

  1. You need a Google account to use Google Photos. Make sure you know your username and password.
  2. To use Google Photos on a mobile device, download the free app from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (android)
  3. Once the app is installed, open it and accept the default settings: 1. Your google account 2. High Quality file size 3. Only upload when on Wi-Fi
  4. You will immediately see the photos on your device. If your device is connected to Wi-Fi, it will start uploading (copying) all those photos to your account in the cloud.
  5. Your photos are not “in Google Photos” until the backup is complete. You must open the app to view the progress and watch for the message “Backup Complete”
  6. Once you see “Backup Complete” you can remove photos from your device and still see the Google Photos copy. But, DO NOT use the trash can for this, that erases the photo from everywhere – device AND cloud.
  7. Android note: your device may have photos in “Device Folders” other than the camera. They will not be included in Google Photos until you: menu, device folders, select the folder and turn on Back up & Sync.
  8. iOS note: if iCloud Photo Library setting is on, leave it on until Google Photos backup is complete. Do not delete photos or FREE UP Space using Google Photos while iCloud Photo Library is on because it will also delete them from iCloud.
  9. Optional: I recommend a second cloud backup service like One Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon before removing photos from your device. That’s a true backup.
  10. To remove all photos from your device and leave them in Google Photos – use the 3-line menu and FREE UP SPACE (iOS: Do not delete photos or FREE UP Space using Google Photos while iCloud Photo Library is on because it will also delete them from iCloud.)
  11. To use Google Photos on a computer there is no software to install, just go to the website, and sign in with your Google account.
  12. To upload pictures from your computer to Google Photos manually, you have 2 choices: 1. Drag and drop from computer folders to Google Photos website 2. From Google Photos website, use the Upload button.
  13. To upload pictures from your computer to Google Photos automatically, install the Backup and Sync app and set preferences to specify what photos you want uploaded and how you want them synced.
  14. All photos uploaded to Google Photos, from whatever device, will be included in the “Library.” The photo library is one giant stream of photos in order by date taken. There are NO folders.

The 14 points above are everything you need to know to successfully store your lifetime of photos for free, forever. Once they’re there, there is so much you can do with them!

  • Explore: Google automatically groups your photos by People, Places, and Things. It is so much fun to explore and find photos you’ve forgotten. You can also use Search, and find photos without the need to tag them first.
  • Edit: Google Photos has built in editing tools that can, so easily, make your pictures look better. It also works together with the Snapseed app for hundreds more, professional, editing tools.
  • Creations: it’s easy to make your own Albums, Collages, Animations, Movies, and even printed Books.
  • Sharing: your library of photos is private, for your eyes only, but Google Photos makes it easy to share the ones you want.
Here is one of our "What does this button do?" live YouTube shows: What's New with Google Photos

Please leave a comment if you use Google Photos and learned something in this article.

Continue your Education with Geeks on Tour by subscribing to our Newsletters!
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983 and owned a Computer Training Center called Computer Savvy from 1983-1996. She was one of the first WordPerfect Certified trainers in 1986; President of the International Computer Training Association in 1993; Author of the Beginner’s Guide to Picasa and the website. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, author of Mrs. Geeks Guide to Google Photos, and owner of the blog. She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Moving from Picasa to Google Photos

imageAs Geeks on Tour – we do a weekly webcast called “What Does This Button Do?” Episode 132 recorded on 12/17/17, was about Google Photos for Picasa users. You can watch this hour-long episode on YouTube.

If you’re still using Picasa as your only tool for managing your photos, it’s time to get serious about moving to Google Photos in the cloud. Picasa still works, on both Windows and Mac computers, it works today, it will work tomorrow, but you never know when there may be an update that will render it useless. If you buy a new computer, you’re going to have trouble finding the Picasa installation file because it is no longer officially available. We do have a copy of it that is available for our Geeks on Tour members, and you can probably find it elsewhere by searching for “Picasa Installation File.”

The future is in the cloud

The world of technology is all moving to the cloud. Picasa is a computer-based program, Google Photos is cloud-based. Picasa is old, Google Photos is new.  If you take your pictures with a smartphone, the Google Photos app is fully automatic for uploading your photos to your Google account online and making them available to all your devices, including your computers.
But, what about all those old pictures that are still on your computer? Or the ones that you stored on external hard drives or even CDs/DVDs? If you upload them all up to your Google account in the cloud, you will then have your entire lifetime of photos available any time you look at your Google photos. I can tell you, it is thrilling when I can show someone photos of my childhood in Alaska by opening the Google Photos app on my phone and searching for Alaska. Or my wedding photos from 20 years ago, by easily scrolling back to that date. Be careful though, you may lose some friends if you do this every time you see them! But even your most photo-averse friends will appreciate it when you can instantly pull up that picture of them receiving an award 10 years ago.

Moving photos from Picasa to Google Photos

You don’t need Picasa to move your photos to the cloud – all the photos you see in Picasa are actually on your hard drive and Episode 132, mentioned above showed 2 ways of moving them from your hard drive to your Google Photos account.
  • The “Pull” method of uploading your photos: with this method you need to select actual pictures, not folders full of pictures
  • The “Push” method of uploading your photos: with this method you can select a folder and all the photos in that folder as well as any sub-folders will be uploaded. It will not maintain the folder structure, no albums will be created for the folders. It just gathers all the photos from within the folders and uploads them to your Google Photos library.
If you do have Picasa, and you like the way you have your pictures in folders, you can use Picasa’s Upload command to both upload AND create corresponding albums in Google Photos.
  1. View your folders using Picasa, make sure you have logged in to the appropriate Google account. You will see it in the upper right corner.
  2. Select a folder (or an album) and click the Upload button. Notice that my folder name is “January” – this is not good. I might end up with lots of “January” albums and there is no such thing as nesting in Google Photos. I highly recommend renaming such folders to 2005 January, or 2005-01 or something that uniquely identifies it, before uploading to Google Photos.
  3. Upload Options: notice when you upload with Picasa, it is set to automatically create a new Google Photos album with the same name as the folder being uploaded. In this example I learned not to name it just August, but 200608. When this is complete, all the photos in that folder in Picasa will be in your Google Photos library, AND you will have an album named 200608 with all the photos showing there.
  4. Repeat for every folder (or album) you want uploaded to Google Photos.
    Use the Tools->Batch Upload command to simply check off all the folders or albums you want uploaded.

Using Picasa’s Batch Upload feature, you can upload many folders and albums at once

Using Backup and Sync


Backup and Sync is software for your computer that will do all the uploading for you. The problems with it are:

  1. It uploads photos from your computer to Google Photos, but does not create albums in Google photos. The photos are just added to your library.
  2. The default setting is to upload ALL the photos on your computer’s Desktop, Documents and Pictures. My bet is that there are lots of photos in your Documents folder, on your Desktop, and that do not belong in your Google Photos library.
  3. After it uploads the photos, it actively synchronizes any edits or deletions. You can turn off the option to synchronize deletions, but no such option exists for edits. For example, there have been reports that once your photos are resized to “High Quality” in the online version, that resizing is synchronizing back to the computer, converting the computer originals to the compressed size. The originals are gone. This is a bug that doesn’t affect everyone  and will be fixed, but why take the risk?
If you want to use Backup and Sync, my recommendation is to carefully select the folders you want it to upload. You can select a parent folder and it will upload all photos in any subfolders. So, for example, you could tell Backup and Sync to upload the My Pictures folder, and it will get all the photos within the My Pictures folder structure. Don’t accept the defaults that are to upload all the photos on your entire computer. Then, when the upload is complete, I recommend discontinuing the use of Backup and Sync. From now on, use the “Push” or “Pull” manual techniques above to add miscellaneous sets of photos from your computer to Google Photos. This way, you’re confident that whatever is on your computer is independent, safe, not being synced.
If you are a Google Drive user, that’s a whole different aspect of Backup and Sync. You can set it to synchronize your entire Google Photos library back down to your computer. That will be another lesson!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Taking a trip? Don’t leave home without Google Photos on your phone.

20070414_port-everglades-18“I’m going on a 3 week cruise starting tomorrow and I’m afraid my phone will run out of space for taking photos.”

Don’t let that happen to you! And, don’t delete photos off your phone without making sure they’re backed up first!

We got together with our friends, Chris and Charles, the evening before they were to board a cruise ship for 3 weeks. I looked at Chris’ phone and saw that she only had a few hundred megabytes of free space on her phone. At that rate, she wouldn’t last one day of taking pictures before getting the dreaded, “Device Full” error message would appear. I looked in Settings and found that over 8 Gigabytes were in use storing nearly 4,000 pictures and videos. She needed to get serious about deleting them!

“I have them backed up on my computer, so it’s OK to delete them from the phone,” she said, “but, I don’t want to delete them all because I like looking at them on the phone. It’s just too much work to decide which to delete and which to keep, so I don’t do it.”

I told her if she used Google Photos, she can delete the photos from the phone, but still see them all using the Google Photos app after the pictures were uploaded to her Google account online. With the Google Photos “Free Up Space” command, all the photos can then be removed with one click. “Let’s do it!” she said.

How to prepare your phone for a trip:

  1. googlephotosInstall Google Photos app on your phone, get it from the App store on iOS or the Play store on Android. It’s free.
    - turn on “Backup and Sync” setting
    - make sure the Google account listed is correct for where you want your photos stored
    - make sure the upload size is High quality (free unlimited storage)
  2. Watch the photos being backed up! Just because you see photos in the Google Photos app does not mean they’re in your Google Photos account, it takes time. The app initially views the photos on your phone. Only when you see “Backup Complete” are you safe to delete them from the device. You may need to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot because it can use a lot of data to do the backup.

  3. Verify that you can see your photos in your account online. Go to and log in with the same Google account used for the app on your phone. You should see all your pictures there.
  4. Now you can delete the photos. Don’t use the trashcan, that deletes from everywhere. Use the Google Photos app on your phone, tap the 3-line menu, Free Up Space. You will see a message about how many photos will be deleted and how much space will be freed up. If you are using an iPhone, and you have iCloud Photo Library turned on, realize these photos will be removed from all iCloud devices as well.

It took all night for Chris’ 4,000 pictures to be backed up. When we looked in the morning, the Google Photos app reported 110 photos remaining. It just took another half hour or so for those to complete. Using a computer, I had Chris sign in to her Google Photos account to prove that we could see her photos online that had just been backed up from her phone. Yes! All photos were there, so I had her open the Google Photos app, and tap the Free Up Space option. Seconds later, she had over 8 GB of free space, plenty for a few thousand pictures.

Bon Voyage Chris and Charles! I can already see from your Facebook photos that you’re having a good time!

Geeks on Tour premium members may also want to view these videos: