Google has become synonymous with search, so it’s great to know that it hasn’t neglected this feature in their products and services.
We’ve always exalted Google Photos for its brilliant features, including some you’re probably overlooking, but a lesser-known feature is that its search tools have powerful algorithms that are on par with that of Google’s search engine.These tools work like a charm regardless of whether you use Google Photos on your PC, via its website, or its respective
These tools work like a charm regardless of whether you use Google Photos on your PC, via its website, or its respective Android and iOS apps. We’ll explain the different ways you can find any photo or video stored in your account within seconds.
Note: We’re using the Google Photos website for this article, but the tips work the same on other platforms. All search results display relevant albums at the top and all its individual photos below, with the most recent ones appearing first. If you see a dropdown menu beside a date, click it to reveal all the photos taken on that date.
1. Search by Name
This is probably the only tip that needs some work from your part. Click inside search bar at the top, then click to select one of the faces that Google recognizes from people in your photos. Next, click the Who’s This? link beside the photo.
As you type that person’s name, you’ll see a list of auto-suggest options if you have that person saved as a contact on your phone. Type their name or click to select the correct option. Going forward, you can see all their photos by simply searching them by name.
Repeat this to add all the people (or as many as you want) that appear in your photos. Doing this making searching for photos of your friends and family a breeze going forward.
2. Search by Place
Provided your phone’s camera has the geo-tagging feature turned on, you can search for specific places to see all the photos taken there. One brilliant, but overlooked feature, is that you can go small or big when searching for places.
For example, typing London in my search bar displayed 10 autosuggest options listing all the different places within London where I’ve taken photos. Similarly, searching for Albufeira only showed me all the photos I took in the quaint Portuguese coastal city.
3. Search by Time
There are different ways you can search for photos based on when they were taken. You can type a specific date (such as 22 August 2015), an approximate time (August 2015), or even a specific year to see all the photos taken then. You would expect Google to do this given its already-great gamut of tools.
However, what surprised me is its contextual time-related search tools. For example, searching for the terms Last week, Last year and Last April all displayed relevant search results.
You can even search for other time-related attributes, including evening, morning, summer, and winter. Among the other time-specific results, Google tends to get this (time of day) category wrong most of the time. For example, the service can confuse bright indoor photos as those taken during the day. That said, it’s an honest and forgivable mistake.
4. Search by File Type
We’ve written about tools to create your own panorama photos. However, I love the fact that I can just take multiple adjacent photos of a beautiful scene from my mobile phone. Google Photos automatically stitches the adjacent photos into a panorama and gives me the option to save it. It also creates GIFs automatically when I take multiple photos at one go.
Google Photos’ insanely powerful search tools allow me to search for panoramas, GIFs, and videos saved in my account. You can also search for other file types, including movies, videos, screenshots, animations, 360-degree photos, or selfies.
Here again, it tends to determine any photos taken from close range as selfies, but with camera quality progressing so much in the last few years, you can’t hold that against Google.
5. Search by Event
Among all the searches I conducted, this category surprised me the most. It lets you search for events that you’ve taken photos of. Searching for picnic, birthday, or wedding displayed good results. The same was the case while searching for sporting events, like football, basketball, or tennis.
Again, these were not always 100 percent accurate. For example, any photo with a cake appeared in the birthday search results. Similarly, any photos taken a park appeared in the picnic search results.
But it’s easy to make peace with these search results because you’re often going to find what you were looking for within them anyway.
6. Search by Objects, Items, and Things
You can even search find photos based on specific objects, items, animals, or things that appear within the photo. For example, try searching for water, sky, cake, flower, trees, animals, birds, or monuments. Each of these produced accurate results, albeit with few, forgivable false positives.
I sometimes take photos of bills and receipts I need to keep in mind. While Google doesn’t seem to recognize those terms, a broader search for paper displays all the photos that containing things written on paper and include bills, receipt, and even posters on walls.
7. Search Scanned Photos
Google recently released a new free app called PhotoScan with the aim of letting you digitize all your old photos. If you’ve installed the app, you can access it by clicking the three lines at the top left of Google Photos, then clicking “Scan photos”. Going forward, simply search for scans whenever you want to see all the photos you digitized.
8. Combining Values
This tip is probably one of best when it works. It involves combining any two values mentioned above to create a more specific search term. So, for example, typing panorama morning displays all the panorama photos I took with daylight in them. The image below displays another result of this in action.
Similarly, I can search for Becky July to see all the photos of my friend Becky taken in the month of July. Searching for Mark Scotland 2015 displays results of my friend Mark that were taken in Scotland on our hike in 2015. You get the drift.
How Else Do You Use Google Photos?
Google Photos’ search results are effectively utilizing the sheer power of advanced algorithms. It compensates for its minor flaws by displaying the right search terms even if you make the odd typo. This is invaluable on a mobile device when you just want to find something quickly.
I have over 5,000 photos saved to Google Photos and I’ve already written about why it’s my perfect vacation companion. Knowing that I can find any photo in a few seconds is evidence that Google search tools have extended way beyond its search engine.
What’s your favorite Google Photos search tip? Let us know by typing your comments below.