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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Getting Your Pictures Down from the Google Photos Cloud

imageIt’s easy to get your pictures UPloaded to the cloud – just turn on the Backup and Sync feature of the Google Photos app on your phone. But how do you get them down to your computer? Computers are not "synced" devices in the Google Photos system. The only way to get photos to your hard drive is manually.

I still want my pictures, at least my best ones, to be stored on my computer (or external hard drive.) I’m not comfortable with my only copy of pictures being the cloud copy. For the last 12 years my process has been to collect all pictures from my camera(s) and put them on my computer. Then to upload just the best ones to the cloud and share them. Now, because of Google Photos, my process is being reversed! Google Photos is automatically uploading all my photos to the cloud and I want the best ones copied down to my computer. I have identified 4 methods for downloading my pictures from the cloud (Google Photos) to my computer. Right now I like method 3 the best, but one of the other methods might suit your needs. Please leave a comment for what you think.


Method 1: Downloading Albums of Photos to your Computer

If you’ve used the Google Photos tools to put your best pictures into albums, you can then download those Albums to your computer.
  1. Open the desired album in Google Photos (on a computer using a Web Browser)
  2. Click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose “Download All”
  3. This will create a .zip file of all the pictures in the album and, depending on your browser’s settings, it will ask you where you want to save the zip file, or it will automatically save it in your Downloads folder. You can even save that .zip file straight to your external hard drive if you’d like.
  4. If your purpose for downloading is simply a backup, you’re done. If you want to see those pictures using Picasa, you need to Extract the picture files from the .zip and save them in the My Pictures folder, where Picasa will see them.

Method 2: Download Groups of Photos to your Computer

If you haven’t created albums, you can simply select a group of photos (click on the checkbox in the upper left corner of each photo.) Then click the 3-dot menu and choose download. This will create a .zip file just like in the method 1.


*Method 3: Downloading Individual Pictures to your Computer

*This is my current preferred method. I don’t want zip files, I want the individual pictures to be in my Pictures folder, preferably in the folder for the month they were taken. That’s been my system for the last 12 years and I kind of like it! Here’s how I do it when all my pictures are already in Google Photos:
  1. View my recent photos using Google Photos (using the Chrome browser.)
  2. When I see a ‘keeper’ I click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose Download. On my system, I am now prompted for a location for the downloaded file. I navigate to my Pictures\yyyymm folder. If your browser doesn’t prompt you for the location it is probably automatically downloading your picture to your Downloads folder. You need to change the Browser’s (Chrome) settings so that it asks you for a location for each download. Here is a help article on how to change download settings.
  3. Repeat #2 for each ‘keeper’ as I browse thru my pictures. This is a bit cumbersome, but I find it the best of my available options. I regularly browse thru my recently added Google Photos anyway. Just be sure to do it from the computer and download the ones I like best. Not too bad.

Method 4: Use Picasa to Download Albums

If you have made albums using Google Photos, you can use Picasa on your computer to download those albums.
  1. Using Picasa on your computer
  2. File->Import from Google Photos
    image
  3. Check the box to Import Selected Albums then Choose the Album from the list presented
    image
That’s it! This downloads the actual pictures, not a .zip file. Pretty slick, BUT there are two problems:
  1. It only downloads pictures not already on your computer. If you have already used any other method to get some, or all of the pictures, then the imported album will be incomplete.
  2. It doesn’t ask for a location. It automatically downloads your imported albums to a special location. In Picasa, you will see a collection at the left sidebar called “Web Albums.” On your hard drive, it will have a numeric identifier like: C:\Users\Chris\Pictures\Downloaded Albums\104655811483131756227\Blackbeard's Dive Trip Oct 2015

Use Picasa to Create Albums

I still like to use the Picasa tools to create my Web Albums. There are 3 things that I can do with this method that I can’t do by creating Albums with the Google Photos tools
  1. Captions: When I add a caption using Picasa, that caption is part of the metadata of the picture. When I upload that picture to Google Photos, the caption becomes the Description. This doesn’t work the other way around: when I add a description in Google Photos and then download the picture, the description is lost, there is no caption.
  2. Watermarks: Picasa has an option to add a watermark to all uploaded photos automatically, so I can add © GeeksOnTour.com to every picture.
  3. Public Albums: My purpose to creating albums is to share those pictures. When I use Picasa to upload an album, I have the option to make that album Public. There is no such option with Google Photos (yet.) When I have a library of public albums, I can still use my Picasa Web Albums link (picasaweb.google.com/chrisguld) to let people see ALL my shared photos.
There is one drawback to using Picasa to upload – it does not (yet) support the new “High Quality” file size. To keep your unlimited free storage, you must select the size called “Best for Sharing” which shrinks your photo to 2048 pixels on the longest side. For me, this is not a problem. 2048 pixels is plenty big enough to view the picture online and that is my purpose.
Please leave a comment to let me know which method you prefer, or any questions you have.