Late last week, Google announced the one-year anniversary of its Google Photos service, noting that it has collectively freed up 13.7 petabytes of phone storage by providing free cloud-based storage for our memories. I’ve been using Google Photos since it was announced, and have found it to be the superior photo service available today.
“A year ago, we introduced Google Photos with one mission,” Google vice president Anil Sabharwal writes in a new post to the Official Google Blog, “to be a home for all your photos and videos, organized and brought to life, so that you can share and save what matters.”
According to Google, over 200 million people use Google Photos each month. (Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not higher than that, but I suspect many people are still burned by this service’s previous incarnation as part of Google+.) It would take 424 years to swipe through the 13.7 petabytes of photos that users have backed up to the service, Google says. It has applied 2 trillion labels to photos, 24 million of which are for selfies.
Google is also providing the following tips for using Google Photos.
Keyboard shortcuts. If you access Google Photos from the web using a PC, you can type SHIFT + ? to see a list of keyboard shortcuts on-screen.
Advanced search. One of the best things about Google Photos is that you can use Google’s excellent search capabilities to find just the photos you want to see. But Google notes that there are advanced search features that few people use. For example, you can search for two things at once—two people, a person and a place, a place and a thing, and so on—to narrow the search even further.
Emoji search. On a phone, you can search with an emoji and find photos that match. For example, the smiley face emoji would bring up photos of smiling people.
It is completely free. If you don’t mind Google downsizing your photos to a very reasonable 16 MP (megapixels) and your videos to 1080p (1920 x 1080), you can store your complete photo collection in the service for free. (There is a rumor that full-sized photos uploaded from Nexus devices will not count against your storage limit as well, but that hasn’t happened yet.)
Find recent photos. Since so many people wish to see just the photos they took most recently, the web version of Google Photos provides a Recently Added view (under Show More).
Make sure your phone photos are backed up. On your phone, you can view your locally-stored photos in the Albums page and make sure they’re backed up. (Sometimes, just loading this view will trigger a backup, I’ve found.)
Shared albums. With this new feature, you can create a shared album for your family or friends. Every time someone adds a new photo, Google notes, everyone will get a notification so they can see your latest photo or video.
Easter Egg. The editor view has an Easter Egg that Google doesn’t name. It’s “out of this world,” they hint, and looking at the filters in the app, I can see they’re all space-themed names (like Triton, Venus, Pluto, and so on). Is that it? Or am I still missing it?
Edit the date and time. In the web version of Google Photos, you can edit the date, time and time zone of a photo or group of photos to put them in the right order in your library. I have been using this for the photo scans I uploaded with incorrect info.
See just the videos. In the mobile app versions of Google Photos, you can navigate to Albums, Videos to see just the videos in your library. (This view also lets you access your collages, animations, and photo slideshow movies, too.)