Monday, October 19, 2020

This Blog has moved

Just click here to go to the new site. All content from this site is included in the new site, then there is new content starting with September 2020. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Learn Google Photos - The Book tl;dr

The book, Learn Google Photos 2020, will be released on September 1. At roughly 150 pages, you might say TL;DR - too long don't read, so we're writing this chapter by chapter summary for you.

More than a book

In addition to the printed book, or eBook, we are also building a companion web page. The first purpose of the page is to keep a running list of updates. Google Photos is changing all the time -- we will keep track. On that page we will also give access to tutorial videos and links to further resources for each chapter. 


The introduction focuses on explaining the mission of Google Photos. It is not a better set of tools to manage your photos, it is a paradigm shift in the whole idea of managing your photos. It is one home for your entire lifetime of photos and videos with automated systems to manage them and making it easy to share and explore your best memories. The introduction also lists some frequently asked questions with answers to jump-start your learning.

Chapter 1: Your Google Account

You must have a Google Account to use Google Photos. If you have multiple Google accounts be clear which one is used for your photos. Your username and password provides the lock and key under which your photos and videos will be stored. You get unlimited storage for free if you choose the "High Quality" size setting for your photos and videos. If you want to store them in original quality, you pay a small amount for storage and that makes you a member of Google One.

Chapter 2: Getting Started on Mobile Devices

Google Photos was built because people are taking so many photos and videos with their smartphones. It replaces the built-in gallery or photos app that came with your phone. To gather all the photos and videos from your phone and upload them to your Google account in the cloud, all you need to do is install the app and turn on the Back up & Sync setting. Then watch as the photos from your phone start to collect at As you take new photos and videos, they will also be uploaded to your account. Now you can feel safe that you won't lose your photos even if you lose your phone. 
Once your photos are safely in the cloud, you can free up space on your phone by deleting them there. Other than having more space on your phone, you won't even know they're gone because the Google Photos app displays the cloud copy. But wait! Think about it, once you delete them from the phone, your only copy is in the cloud. You still need a backup. We highly recommend copying your phone's photos and video to one more location before wiping them from the phone.

Chapter 3: Collecting the rest of your life's photos and videos

If the only photos in your life are those you've taken with your phone, then you can skip this chapter. Most of us, however, have lots more. The goal is to gather all the photos and videos from your entire life in the one home that Google provides. If you previously used Picasa, then any photos you uploaded to Picasa Web Albums are already in Google Photos because they use the same cloud servers and Google accounts. For photos in Picasa that you did not upload, they are stored on your computer's hard drive. This chapter teaches how to upload past digital photos from computer hard drives and folders, camera cards, external hard drives, CDs, thumb drives and other cloud services like Facebook or Dropbox or OneDrive. This chapter also teaches some easy techniques for digitizing old prints and slides so they can be collected into your Google Photos. 

Chapter 4: Getting around in Google Photos

Google Photos is actually 3 things: 
  1. Website and cloud storage space (
  2. Android App
  3. iOS App
This chapter teaches how to navigate the menus and buttons in all three interfaces. We answer the questions, "What does this button do?" For the most part, anything you can do in one, you can also do in the other 2, but there are some minor differences. 

Chapter 5: Exploring your photo library

This chapter explains how your photo library is organized by date. We explain how to use the Archive and Device Folders. There is no need to know exactly where a photo is because you can use search to find most anything. You can browse a map, and see photos in their locations. Want to see all the photos of your grandson? Just look in the People section where Google automatically sorts photos by faces. Learn how to select images for adding to albums, how to delete photos, how to add descriptions and view other information (metadata) for your photos, how to play a slide show, and how to use Google Lens.

Chapter 6: Keeping your memories safe

Doesn't it feel good now to have all your photos and videos in one place? It is indeed wonderful, but if living with technology teaches us anything, it's to have a backup. Don't keep all your memories in only one basket.
  • Be careful with delete! Make sure you understand what you are deleting before you use it. Are you deleting the device copy, the cloud copy, or both? If you do delete by mistake, this chapter teaches how you can undelete if it has been less than 60 days. 
  • Photos and videos stored in your Google account are extremely safe, but as we all know, stuff happens.  This chapter teaches how to copy your photos to one more cloud storage service, just in case. 
Everything is uploaded, you also need to know how to download. 
  • On your phone, sometimes it is necessary to have photos stored locally on the device. You can download individual photos from the cloud to your device. 
  • On your computer, you should download at least your important albums. This chapter teaches how to do that.
  • Google provides a tool called Takeout that will download your entire library of photos and videos. It does it using multiple .zip files however and can be very confusing. It does not preserve your albums.

Chapter 7: Editing to improve your photos

It doesn't matter which device you use, phone, tablet, or computer, you have the tools to make your photos look better. This chapter teaches how to use Crop, Filters, Light and Color options, and Pop. For video, you can rotate, stabilize, trim, and export frame. Snapseed is also covered in this chapter. It is a separate, free app by Google, for more sophisticated editing. It works in partnership with Google Photos. The sample below is using editing features within Google Photos.

Chapter 8: Organizing with Albums and Favorites

This chapter teaches all about making and using albums. Albums are used for all the following reasons:

  1. Showcase your good photos and videos
  2. Collecting your chosen photos in special categories
  3. To tell a story, you can add text blocks and maps.
  4. For sharing groups of pictures
  5. Collaborating with others for a group album
  6. To use for digital photo frames
  7. To use for making printed photo books
  8. To use for making movies or animations
  9. To use for downloading backups
  10. Making a Favorites album by starring photos
  11. Auto updating albums (aka Live Albums)

Chapter 9: Sharing

This chapter covers all the different techniques for sharing photos. Which ones you use depends on who you are sharing with and why. 
  • Using a link you can share one photo or any number of photos and videos with any number of people. They don't even need to have a Google account, anyone with the link can open it and see your photos. 
  • If you want to be more exclusive, you can share with specified individuals if they do have a Google account. 
  • Shared albums are wonderful for allowing groups of people to share with each other. 
  • Shared library is used if you want one partner to have access to your entire library.
  • Sharing to another app is how you send photos via email, text, or post to social media like Facebook or Twitter.

Chapter 10: Surrounding yourself with your photos and creations

Here's where we reap the rewards of having our life's worth of photos and videos in one place. 
  • Memories section: Google encourages us to reminisce by surfacing memories at the top of the mobile apps. In the Recent Highlights segment, you may see creations that Google has made for you. Sweet little movies are compiled from your photos and videos, collages, and animations. 
  • Next in the memories section, you can browse thru photos from this week 1 year ago, 2 years ago, and as far back as your photos go. 
  • Creations: You can make creations easily. Combine any photos and videos into movies, animations, and collages that will put a smile on your face and anyone you share with.
  • Printing: built right in to Google Photos is a Print Store. You can order individual prints if you want, but the real beauty is easy, fast, and inexpensive it is to order photo books and mounted canvas wall prints. 
  • You can have your television displaying your memories like a big screensaver. You can also have slideshows constantly running on smaller screens of smart displays.  Pick whatever albums you want to display on different screens. Your whole house can be filled with your memories being displayed. It can even happen at someone else's house. If you share photos of your kids with your mother, she can have those photos automatically displayed on her TV or smart display.

Chapter 11: Troubleshooting and getting help

If you can't find your photos, or something just isn't working as it is supposed to, there are a few troubleshooting techniques you can use. If that doesn't work, you can get help thru the public support forum. If you are a Google One subscriber, you can get phone help.

Chapter 12: Apple Photos and iCloud vs Google Photos

Apple Photos is the photo gallery or camera roll app that comes with your iPhone and iPad. It is also a more full-featured program that comes with Mac computers.
iCloud is Apple's cloud storage and synchronization service. You can use Apple Photos with or without iCloud. Apple Photos with iCloud performs roughly the same service as Google Photos with one major exception when it comes to deleting photos.
  • with Google Photos you can delete the device copy of a photos and still keep the cloud copy
  • with Apple Photos you cannot. Apple photos job is to keep all your Apple devices in sync. Add a photos with one device, it gets added to all. Delete a photo with one device and it is deleted from all - including the cloud.
  • if you delete photos using Google photos, it is deleting the device copy. That deletion will be noticed by iCloud and the deletion will be synced to iCloud and all Apple devices.
This chapter explains this in more detail and compares some of the features of both apps. We let you know whether it's ok to use both at the same time, or if you should stick to Google Photos and turn iCloud off. 

Chapter 13: My favorite features

To wrap it up, let's get back to remembering what makes Google Photos so great. I list 9 different favorite features:
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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 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. Also see our YouTube show where we went thru all the changes: Episode 194 What's new with Google Photos.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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 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 She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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, 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 She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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.

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 She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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.

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 She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert 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.