Saturday, February 18, 2017

Crop Pictures to Fill Wide Screens

It took me a while to notice that my new, wonderful, iPhone 7+ camera was not taking pictures that filled the screen. The iPhone’s screen’s width and height is known by it’s aspect ratio of 16:9. That’s nearly twice as wide as it is high. My computer screen is also 16:9, as is the most common display on YouTube, and newer TVs. So why does the iPhone camera only take pictures that are 4:3 – just a little bit wider than it is high?
image image
This is a 4:3 ratio photo displaying on a wide screen – 16:9. Notice the  black bars on either side? This photo is  widescreen format (16:9) so the picture gets the benefit of the whole screen.
My Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S5) has a camera setting for this. You can choose for the camera to shoot in wide-screen resolution or not.
There may be plenty of reasons for this of which I am unaware. All I know is that I want my pictures to fill the screen. If I can’t take them that way, I can crop them after the fact.

Using Google Photos

You can easily use Google Photos editing tools to crop to the 16:9 ratio. That’s what I did in the photo example above. The one on the left was how the iPhone took the photo, on the right is my cropped version.
  • Open the photo with Google Photos and click the pencil icon to edit
  • Click the Crop/rotate icon
  • Click the image button to see the constraints for cropping
  • Choose 16:9

Want to learn more?

Join Geeks on Tour
or Buy the Google Photos book.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Make a Group Photo Album with Google Photos

imageWhen I got married, many years ago, we wanted to get everyone to take pictures and share them with us. We accomplished that by buying lots of disposable cameras and placing them on the tables around the room. We asked people to pick up any camera nearby and snap some photos. Then, at the end of the party, we collected all the cameras and had the film developed. Pretty ingenious don’t ya think? I don’t remember how we let all the guests see those pictures, lots of prints sent by mail I guess. Or, we just had to have them over later to look at our album.

Google Photos and Shared Albums

Today, I have several groups of people that like to see each others’ photos. One group has nearly 50 people in the group and they all add lots of photos. The album got so full over the course of the year, that we started a new one for the new year. I also have a very small group (me and Jim!) with a shared album. It’s a great way to let each other have access to our best photos.

Google Photos makes it very easy to create a group album.

  • Click on the Assistant
  • Notice the “Create New” buttons at the top. Click the Shared Album button.


  • Select the pictures you want to share and click the Share button in upper right
  • Enter a title for the album
  • imageClick the Share button in upper right, and select people to share with. Anyone can see the photos you share, only people using Google Potos – you see the logo by their face – will be able to add their own photos to the album

The person who creates the album is the owner, the other members of the group are collaborators. Everyone can add and/or remove their own photos to the album. Only the owner can remove others’ photos. Once photos are in the album, any of the group can leave comments on any photo, or on the entire album. It becomes a great private party with pictures and conversation.

It’s Easy to Share, Perhaps Too Easy

The way shared albums work is thru a web address, a URL. When you share the album with 3 friends, you are giving those 3 friends the address of the album.

This is great. The 4 of you have your own private world to look at, and comment on, each others photos. As long as you keep it among yourselves, it is private. If any of the 4 give the address to a 5th person, then the 5th person can be part of the group. This can be very good. It’s easy to add people to your group. The key is trust among the original 4. You need to trust that they won’t give the address to just anyone. They need to know not to post the address in a public place, or in their social network.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Google Photos Quick Tip: Make that Picture POP!

One of the Google Photos editing tools is called "Pop." What is Pop? Well, it's hard to describe. It brightens a photo, increases the color, brings out some of the detail in the shadows and adds definition and contrast.
  • Open a Photo in Google Photos
  • Tap the Pencil to get into edit mode
  • Tap the Adjustments Tool and you'll see Pop at the bottom
  • Drag the Pop slider to the right to increase Pop
This is one of those things where it's a lot easier to show you than to describe it. Here are some examples of photos with the original on the left and with Pop added on the right.

    Original Photo                                                           with Pop 

Realize that I picked good examples of pictures where Pop makes a difference. It won't always make a big difference, and sometimes you may not like what it does to a picture. But it's such a simple edit to try - why not? You can always drag the slider back down to the left where it started.

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.