12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn’t Know About

Ben Stegner 21-03-2017

Google Photos has grown into an awesome service. From automatically backing up your phone’s pictures 4 Ways to Sync and Upload Photos to Cloud Storage on Android Here are the best apps to automatically upload Android photos to the cloud so you never lose precious memories. Read More to letting you easily share your photos, there’s a lot to love for anyone who works with photos.


However, you might have missed some of Google Photos’ lesser-known functionality. Once you’ve set up free unlimited storage at high quality Get Free Unlimited Photo Storage & More with Google Photos If you aren't using these hidden Google Photos features, you're really missing out. (Hint: There's free and unlimited photo storage!) Read More , check out some of these deeper features.

1. Create Animations

Whether you want to make a mini stop-motion animation or just make a slideshow of related pictures, Photos can help. Select the Animation button under the Assistant tab, and you can choose from 2–50 photos to add. Once you’re satisfied, click Create and you’ll have a neat little GIF ready to share.

12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos Animation

These GIFs are great for making a quick slideshow of an event, but you’ll want to look at other tools if you’re making a GIF from your desktop 3 Best Tools to Make Free Animated GIFs on Windows Keen to start creating your own GIFs? These tools will get you animated in no time. Read More .

2. Make a Collage

Taking several photos and turning them into a collage is a great way to create a mini time-lapse or just mess around and make some memes 7 Free Apps to Create Memes on Your iPhone or iPad In the search for the perfect iOS meme generator, we tested over 20 apps to come up with this list of 7 freebies. Read More . Instead of messing around with a manual image editor 10 Easy-to-Use Photo Editing Programs for Newbie Photographers If Adobe Lightroom seems too complex for you, check out these easy-to-use photo editing programs for beginners. Read More , you can make a clean collage in seconds.


Visit Assistant again and choose Collage. This lets you pick between two and nine of your pictures to mash into one collage image. Once that’s done, you’ll have a new image you can share with others.

12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos Collage

3. Perform Quick Photo Edits

It’s not a replacement for Photoshop 15 Free Alternatives to Adobe Lightroom, Illustrator, and Photoshop Would you like to get Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or Illustrator for free? Here are some of the best Creative Cloud alternatives. Read More , but Google Photos lets you make minor adjustments to photos without any extra software. Open up a picture and click the Edit (pencil-shaped) button to start. Use the Color Filters tab for an easy preset color change, or try the Basic Adjustments tab to tweak the lighting, color, or pop.

12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos Quick Edit


You can crop your photos, too. Try manually making adjustments or select one of the preset aspect ratios to make it easier — the Flip to Portrait option is perfect for making a phone wallpaper. If something got flipped, rotating it here only takes a click.

4. Watch a Slideshow

Want to watch all your photos go by? You can start a slideshow from any folder in Google Photos. Click on a picture to open it up, then click the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner. Choose Slideshow and your photos will start rolling by. This is perfect for turning your PC into a quick digital photo frame, maybe for guests at a party.

5. Scan Old Photos

Your recent memories are (hopefully) backed up 6 Tips to Never Lose Your Photos While Traveling You should heed the following tips before embarking on your next trip, especially if the resulting photos are one your main reasons for taking the trip in the first place! Read More in Google Photos and safe from hard drive failure, but what about your old physical photos? Whether you want to share them online or just have a digital copy for safe keeping, Google makes it easy with a special app.

Download PhotoScan for Android or iOS to start digitizing your old pictures. You could spend a lot of time restoring these manually How to Easily Restore an Old Family Photo Using Photoshop Everyone has old family photos lying around. Sadly, they’ll probably be discolored, faded, scratched, or bent. With Photoshop, you can make them look as good as new. Read More , but PhotoScan automatically detects the edges of photos, removes glare, and enhances them.


6. Free Up Device Space

Since Google Photos automatically backs up your pictures to its servers, having them on your device is a space-wasting duplicate. You might choose to keep a few special photos on your phone in case you’re in an area without service, but Photos can clean up the rest in seconds.

Open Google Photos on your device, open the left slide-out menu, and click Free up space. Photos will find all items that are already safely backed up and remove them from your device to save space. This is great for those who don’t have a lot of storage to spare How to Survive Using an Old Android Phone with No Internal Memory Using an ancient Android phone with barely any internal space is a huge pain. Here's how to survive and make the most of it. Read More .

7. Disable Suggested Edits

Google Photos tries to help you out with its Assistant. It’ll automatically create albums when you take lots of pictures in a short time or show “recommended” filters on some photos. If these annoy you, they’re easy to turn off.

Open the left slide-out menu and tap Settings. Expand the Assistant Cards field and you’ll see a couple of options:

  • Creations automatically makes collages and animations.
  • Rediscover this day shows you notable photos from years past.
  • Suggested shares recommends that you share photos based on certain criteria.
  • Suggested rotations will fix misaligned photos.

You should leave these on until you know that you don’t want them, as they are helpful at times.

8. Search for Anything

Behind the scenes, Google Photos does some interesting work on your pictures. Type anything into the search bar at the top to find photos related to that term. Searching for food will find pictures you’ve taken of your dinner, or Paris will find all the pictures you took on your vacation last year.

Next time you need to see every Selfie you’ve ever taken, this is the fastest method.

9. Link Photos and Google Drive

If you use Google Photos, you probably use Google Drive too The Only Google Drive Guide You'll Ever Need to Read Google Drive is the perfect combination of online file storage and document management tools. We explain how to best use Google Drive on- and offline, by yourself and in collaboration with others. Read More . The cloud storage service provides 15 GB of space for free, so you might already have some pictures stored in it. To access them in Photos without manually moving them, open Settings in Photos and check Show Google Drive photos & videos in your Photos library.

12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos Drive Link

You can pair in the opposite direction, too. Open Google Drive, click the gear in the top-right, and choose Settings. Under General, check the box to Automatically put your Google Photos into a folder in My Drive. This adds a new folder at your Drive’s root called Google Photos for easy access.

10. Back Up Any Phone Folders

On Android, pictures are separated into different folders. Photos you download from a WhatsApp conversation are in a different place from screenshots The 5 Best Ways to Take a Screenshot on Any Android Phone We show you how to take a screenshot on Android. Choose between default shortcuts and apps to capture your Android phone. Read More , for instance. If you want Google Photos to back up pictures from sources other than your camera (or stop backing up some folders), you can tweak this.

Open the left sidebar and tap Settings. Choose Back up & sync and tap Back up device folders. This lets you see all the folders on your phone that contain images. Turn each on or off with its slider depending on your preference. Whenever Photos detects a new folder, it will ask you via a notification if you’d like it backed up.

11. Quickly Download Everything

Did you know that Google lets you download an archive A Cautionary Tale: When Google Decides To Hold On To Your Personal Data And Won't Let Go We trust Google with our personal data every day: What happens when they won't let us take it when we need it? Here's a cautionary story of a Google Takeout experience. Read More of all your account data? Using the Google Takeout page, you can grab all the information on your Chrome, Drive, Hangouts, Play, Mail, Photos, and other accounts. To download just your Photos, click the Select none button at the top-right of the list, then enable the slider for Google Photos. Make sure you’ve selected All photo albums, then click Next at the bottom of the page.

Choose your preferred download type (ZIP is fine How to Extract Files From ZIP, RAR, 7z and Other Common Archives Were you ever faced with a .rar file and wondered how to open it? Fortunately, managing ZIP files and other compressed archives is simple with the right tools. Here is what you need to know. Read More ) and maximum size, and whether you’d like it delivered via email or added right to your Drive. Give Google some time to prepare the data, and you’ll have everything in one place.

12. Share Any Photo With Anyone

What’s the fun of photos if you’re the only one who sees them? Google Photos makes it simple to send out your pics to friends even if they don’t use the app. Open any photo and click the Share icon to get a list of options. You can send them directly to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, but you also have the option to create a shared album.

Once you share, you can decide whether others can add photos to the album. For a quicker method, just click Get Link for a URL you can send to anyone. It’s much faster than manually attaching it to a text or message.

How Do You Use Photos?

These are 12 little features you might have missed inside Google Photos — who’d have thought this service had so much to offer? If you’re only using Photos as a quick backup for your phone, you’re missing out! Try out these extras and you might just find your new favorite photo service.

For help with getting started, check out how to make Google Photos work for you How to Make Google Photos Work for You with These Tips Google Photos could be the much-awaited solution to manage all your photos. But is it the best among all online photo sharing sites? Read More .

Which awesome features of Google Photos did we miss? Let us know your best tricks in the comments!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Tal
    April 30, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    1. Does Drive and Photos share the same 15GB?
    2. Does allowing the photos to be also in drive means it captures storage on both services?


    • Ben Stegner
      May 1, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Yes, one Google account gets you 15 GB of space to share across Gmail, Drive, and Photos. But remember that if you use Photos on your phone, its auto-upload feature can save an unlimited amount of pictures at high quality. So those don't count towards your space.

      According to this Google Groups post, adding that Google Photos folder to your Drive does not use additional space. But you shouldn't move anything into it directly either -- let Photos sync them for you.!topic/drive/QnZYHtac--o

  2. RocRizzo
    March 27, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Now if only there was a way to scan negatives. Some of us have tens of thousands of them, and though services will do this, it can run into money.

    • Nancy Rice
      April 3, 2017 at 8:08 am

      I have an Epson scanner that does just that. All the 35mm are saved for posterity.

  3. MCSwan
    March 27, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I want far more sort options. Specifically option to sort by photos that are *not* in an album.

    • Karen
      April 3, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Ditto that!

  4. Donna Couture
    March 24, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Joe Edleman for portrait photography - on Facebook and YouTube. Really enjoy his tips.

  5. Kenny
    March 22, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    In the 'Assistance ', the phone version has a 'Movie', while the PC version has an 'Animation'. Why can the PC create movie too?

    • WY
      March 23, 2017 at 12:42 am

      Depends on if your phone is supported. My old one+ could not do movies. Nexus 6p and wife's Samsung edge can . Google enables features by device.

      • Kenny
        March 23, 2017 at 1:01 am

        My apology, my original question was not properly post. What i wish is to be able to create movie in PC's 'Google Photo'. Right now I only able to create movie from Phone (small screen, difficult to organize the images sequence). The 'Movie' selction icon is not in 'Assistant' of PC site.
        Or i missing something?

  6. Ross
    March 22, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Nicely presented list! Thank-you!! I knew some already but not all. Great to have it all in one place. My wife will love this. I find this website very useful :)

  7. JJ
    March 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    More like 12 features everyone knows because they are the core features of photos.

    • Steven
      March 22, 2017 at 2:03 am


    • steve
      March 25, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      You should perhaps replace 'everyone' with 'those who have an in depth knowledge of Google Photos' - for those of us who do not know / use it - we learn a little more.

    • Nez
      March 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Yep lol. But, you know it's all about click bait these days.

  8. Ron
    March 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    On my Nexus 6P running Android 7.1.1, the "Settings""Back up & sync""Back up device folders" is no longer available. You have to use the "Photo" app, hit the hamburger menu icon then "device folders"