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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Google Photos is 5 Years old and brand new

Google Photos was released in May of 2015, see the launch video here. To celebrate 5 years and over 1 Billion users, Google has given the app a major facelift. First of all, it has a new logo.

 Old icon

 New icon


Simplify, simplify, simplify

What should the app focus on? Based on watching their users, the Google Photos team has decided that reminiscing is the core of the app. With the thousands of photos we all collect in our lifetimes, and our lack of time to manually organize them all, the ability to be reminded of our memories is of great value.

With that in mind, the Google Photos team cut down the main choices (Tabs at the bottom) from 4 to 3, putting Search front and center. Search is so good - that's nothing new - the hope is that seeing the search icon as one of only three tabs, will make people use it.

The Memories section at the top is kind of like Facebook stories. Just enjoy. Click on one and watch a little slide show. Go back thru the years and see photos you forgot you had. New with the redesign is "Recent Highlights." That's where Google picks what it thinks are the best of your recent photos. Just watch and enjoy. You'll also find the old "For You" creations in this memories section. If you're ever bored and in need of some entertainment, try opening up your Google Photos, click on the first tile of the Memories section and just watch. I'll bet you'll like it.


Old app

  1.   3-line menu (aka “Hamburger”) menu
  2.  Search bar
  3.  Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  4. Google Account profile button
  5. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  6. Memories – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  7. Photos – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Tabs



 New app


  1. Sharing – takes you to sharing screen
  2. Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  3. Google Account profile button, find Settings and help here
  4. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  5. Stars represent favorites
  6. Tabs: Photos, Search, Library
  7. Photo Grid – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Memories – only shows at the top of Photos tab

Where did everything go?

If you are accustomed to using the Google Photos app, it is disconcerting at first when you open the new app. There is no 3-line menu at the top left, there is no search bar at the top, no Albums tab, For You, or Sharing. Everything is still there, they've just rearranged the furniture. Here is a grid of where to find the old things using the new app. They've moved a lot of functionality under the new tab at the bottom called "Library." Most anything to do with managing your library of photos is there. The other button where you'll find a lot of the moved furniture is the Account profile button at the top right. Settings, Free up Space, backup status, and Help & Feedback are there.


The New Map View of Photos

There's not a whole lot that's new in this version, mostly just rearranged, but one new thing is pretty spectacular and that's a Map of your memories. Just tap the Search button and right away you'll see a way to "Explore Map."  If you pinch the map, you can see all of North America on one screen with a "heat map" of where you have taken pictures. 

Zoom in on a location and you'll get a split screen with the map on top and a grid of photos/videos on the bottom. You can move the map and the photos will change accordingly, or you can scroll thru the photos and the map will change accordingly. It's very fast, and very cool. Good job Google!

Any questions? Please leave a comment below.


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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 19, 2020

Google Photos can stabilize videos

I hope you've discovered that your smartphone camera takes great videos, and videos add so much to the experience of your memories. Even just 15 second clips, combined with your photos, can bring your memories to life in delightful ways. But, any time you are hand-holding your phone while taking video, you run the risk of it coming out shaky.

If you are using an Android device and the Google Photos app, you're in luck. There's a simple, one-click option to "stabilize" your video. Just open the video and tap on the edit button below the video - the middle icon. Edit That will open up the video editing tools.


All you need to do is tap the button at the left called stabilize, and Google Photos will do all the rest. Notice that you also have the option to trim the beginning or end, and to rotate the video. When you're done, tap Save a Copy in the upper right. Note: this feature does not exist on the iPhone version of Google Photos. I hear that the app Emulsio is supposed to do the same thing.

The results


The results of using the Stabilize function with Google Photos app on Android

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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, June 4, 2020

How Google Photos can Scan a QR Code

I'm sure you've all been asked to scan a QR code, like the one at the right, at some point in time. That's how you can get a discount coupon at a store, or get more information about a product from a print ad, or make an appointment at a hair salon, or get directions to a restaurant, or listen to a guided tour at a public garden. There are so many uses for QR codes. If you scan this particular code, it will take you to YouTube and a playlist of 25 Google Photos tips.

All iPhones and many Android phones can now scan these codes with just the camera that came built in with the phone. Simply open the camera app and focus on the code, you will see a link pop up that will lead you to where the code goes. 

But, what if you see a QR code that you want to keep and scan later? For example, you're in the Florida Welcome Center and there are posters everywhere about the things to see and do in Florida. Most of them will have a QR code you can scan for more information. You want to do that at your leisure after dinner.

You can take a picture of it, sure, but then how do you scan it from the photo? If you use Google Photos, it's a piece of cake. Just use the Lens button. Open the photo using Google Photos and you'll see the Lens button  third from the left. Tap that and it will go to work scanning the code and then pop up a link to tap to take you there.  


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Show your Google Photos like a screensaver on your TV


We no longer turn our TVs off except for overnight. The rest of the time, if we're not watching a show, they are displaying our chosen Google Photos albums. We just love that our house is filled with our travel photos, especially in this time of the CoronaVirus when we're stuck at home.

What you need

You don't need a fancy TV, any TV with an HDMI port will do. 
The Chromecast device
costs about $35
  1. Good household WiFi
  2. Chromecast device ($35) plugged into HDMI port of any TV
  3. Google Photos Account
  4. Google Home app

How to set it up

When you bring your Chromecast device home from the store you just plug it into an HDMI port on your TV. You will also plug in the other cable into the TV's USB port, or use the electric plug to plug it into a wall outlet. The Chromecast device needs to get power either from the USB or from the wall outlet. 
Google Home is a free app for Apple or Android
  • Once you have it plugged in and the TV turned on, you will see onscreen instructions.
  • Both the TV/Chromecast device and your phone with the Google Home app must be connected to the same WiFi network.
  • Once you've completed the onscreen instructions, you should see your TV listed in your Google Home App, let's say you named it "Living Room TV"
  • Select "Living Room TV" in your Google Home app on the phone, and then tap on "Personalize Ambient"
  • On the Ambient mode screen choose Google Photos, then select whatever albums you want used as your 'screensaver.'
If you have an Android phone, you can also open the Google Photos app, tap the 3-line menu, and choose Photo Frames. Choose "Living Room TV." Whatever albums you select here will be displayed on the TV whenever it is set to the proper HDMI port and nothing else is being cast.





Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Ten ways of using albums in Google Photos

If you're not making albums, you're not using the capabilities of Google Photos. It's by adding photos to albums that you can make your own groupings. Realize that Albums are NOT like folders, they do not store your photos. Photos are stored in one bucket, just called Google Photos. Any given photo can show up in one or more albums, they’re just marked to display in that album. If you delete a photo from Google Photos – it’s gone from the album. If you remove a photo from an album, it’s still in Google Photos. To make an album:
  • Select the photos you want in the album
  • Click/tap the + in the upper right corner
  • Choose Album
  • Give the album a name and click/tap the checkmark at top left
If you have pictures from your visit to New England to see lighthouses, you could have one album called New England vacation, that shows your travels along with lots of lighthouse pictures. If you have also been to many other locations to see lighthouses, you might want to make an album called lighthouses that spotlights your best lighthouse photos. One picture of the lighthouse on the cliff in Acadia can show up in both albums.

  1. Showcase your good photos and videos.
  2. Collect your special categories that you want to show in an instant. 
  3. Tell a story, complete with text blocks and maps. See our 2017 Italy album, or Geek's story
  4. Share groups of photos easily
  5. Collaborate with groups of people such as everyone on a trip
  6. Use for digital photo frames
  7. Use for making books
  8. Use for making movies
  9. Use for downloading backups
  10. Auto updating albums aka Live Albums. Think photo frame at Grandma's house auto adding photos of of grandkids
In this YouTube show we discuss these different options.




Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

If I get free, unlimited storage, why is Google Photos telling me to buy storage for $1.99/mo?

It may look like Google is telling you to buy 100 GB for $1.99/mo, but what they're actually doing is just offering it to you.

If you choose the High Quality setting, you do get free unlimited storage, you don't need to buy anything.

High Quality means that Google stores up to 16 megapixel photos and 1080p videos with an extra compression to reduce the file size. My cameras all take photos less than 16 megapixels, so this is fine with me and I like the reduced file size. 

Your Google Storage Allotment

Google gives everyone 15GB of free storage space. Keep in mind that your Google storage is shared among Gmail, Google Drive, and Original quality Google Photos. You can see how much you are using by going to MyAccount.Google.com and be logged in with your Google account. 
You will see sections for privacy, security, and Account storage. In the account storage section, click the link to "Manage storage" and you will see your total allotment as well as the amount being used by Drive, Gmail, and Photos.

What is Google One? Think phone support.

If you choose to buy 100 GB for $1.99/month, you become a member of Google One. That is simply what Google has chosen to call it when you pay for storage rather than just using the free allotment. 

If you become a member of Google One, there are a few other benefits. You get support from Google, even for the free products like Google Photos. Think about that, for $2/month you get phone support. You can talk to a real human being. I've heard reports ranging from "solved my problem quickly" to "totally useless." But, that is the nature of phone support in general, right? I think it's pretty amazing to get phone support for $2/mo.

My Google Photos setting changed to Original

When you become a Google One member, Google apparently assumes you want to use that storage for your photos and the default selection for file size changes from High Quality to Original. It took me a while to realize this. I've always chosen to store my photos in High Quality. I am now paying $2/mo for the Google One membership, but my reason is to have access to phone support. I don't know how long I will continue the membership and I still want my photos to be stored for free with the High Quality setting. My current storage stats show that Google Photos is taking up 2.81 GB.

I found the culprit by checking my iPhone Google Photos settings. I had uninstalled and reinstalled the program, not noticing that the default size setting had changed to Original. I have now set it back to High Quality, but what about the photos that are already stored at High Quality?

Recover Storage

There is a button that will review all your stored photos and, retroactively, compress them to High Quality. It's called Recover Storage, and you'll find it on the Google Photos settings on the web version. Here is a video on how to use it.



Billed thru iTunes?

When someone showed me an email that iTunes was billing them for Google Photos storage, I thought it was a scam. Google storage would be billed thru Google. Since when was Apple doing Google's collections for them?!? But, apparently it is true. You can sign up for that $2mo 100 GB using your iPhone and your Apple ID.
If you think an email about an iTunes charge may be a scam, here is Apple's help for identifying legitimate emails from them.


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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 26, 2020

How to add text with a solid background to a photo using Google Photos - 610

It was a long time in coming, but Google Photos now can add text right to a photo. At least, the Android version of Google Photos can do that. It's called the "Markup" tool and it's pretty simple.

Even if you know how to add text to photos with Google Photos, yuo should watch this short video because I add a very important little tip!

Notice how the words in the picture  have a dark background. That is SO important to allow the words to be readable. I've found a way to accomplish it with the new Google Photos markup tool.




Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com 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.