How to upload photos


Important! Please be aware that the files you upload to Google Photos are not considered as real backups (extra copies kept for safekeeping in case the original is lost or damaged). Why not? If you upload photos or videos to Google Photos from a device then later delete the photos and videos to free up space on your device, you'll have only one copy at Google Photos. The copy is no longer a true backup. Please read more at Geeks on Tour, "Google Photos is NOT a "Backup" of Your Photos"


There are basically 2 upload methods:
  1. Backup & Sync (replaces the Desktop Uploader). Backup & Sync is intended to upload all your photos in bulk, without any local selection or editing before uploading, and without automatically creating albums. BUS uploads to Google Drive and from there to Google Photos.
  2. Upload manually using various methods allows you to add the photos immediately to albums. This method is more work, but is simple to do. You have control and can create a nice album collection. We recommend you edit photos before uploading and to upload selectively.
There is an automatic check behind-the-scenes to determine whether the exact same photo was already uploaded to Google Photos. Any change made to the photo (except rename) or a change to it's metadata will cause the photo to be re-uploaded. See How to remove or prevent duplicates in Google Photos

"Backup & Sync" (BUS)

Backup & Sync (BUS), a Google Drive app, was launched in July 2017 and was intended to replace Google Photos Backup ("Desktop Uploader"). On May 12, 2018, the Desktop Uploader was discontinued and no longer worked. 

If you used the Desktop Uploader and now want to begin using Backup & Sync, you may encounter problems with duplicates. 
BUS builds a new hierarchy in Google Drive which mirrors the computer folder structure before passing the photos on to Google Photos. If you want to use BUS, we recommend creating a new hierarchy on your computer for new photos. Trying to merge already backed files up will be very difficult. If you don't want your photos uploading to Google Drive, do not use BUS.

For more help with migrating, please see this doc by TC PeteranDi, "Migrating from Google Photos Backup (GPB) to Backup and Sync (BUS) - ONLY applicable if the option to create a Google Photos folder in Google Drive HAS NOT Been enabled":
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SrfCAPltZJJvQkQUXvlcByktkGTinrUiIbbddMbHsq8/edit?usp=sharing

See Geeks on Tour video about using Backup & Sync to upload photos and videos from your computer to Google Photos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS1Jo5exJhM&feature=youtu.be


  • Backup & Sync "syncs" images to Google Drive. The folders structure from the computer will be maintained in Drive but not in Photos. That allows sharing of Drive folders that include sub-folders. However, edits made at Google Photos will NOT sync to Google Drive.
  • Photos and videos will upload into one big library sorted by camera date (if present). 
  • When you select "High Quality" in the Backup & Sync app, photos will be compressed and will NOT count against your Google storage. 
  • BUS doesn't use any storage quota if standard JPGs are used. Some RAW and videos may count against the quota, but you will see a warning message. 
  • The Drive folders are synced with the folders on the computer. That means that Backup & Sync" is not a real "backup" (see more about this further above).
  • Erroneous deletions, corrupted files, etc., will also sync two ways. Be sure to have another backup method (such as to external hard drives and/or other cloud services). 
  • When you activate "Show Google Drive photos & videos in your Photos library" in Settings, the photos will be added to your Google Photos library.
  • If you activate "Automatically put your Google Photos into a folder into My Drive," the photos uploaded with "Backup & Sync" will NOT be added to that folder. 
  • If you want to convert folders on your computer to albums in Google Photos, it would be better to upload manually (see methods below).  

Drag & Drop directly to "Photos" (the library) or into "Albums"

Following are directions for dragging & dropping photos and videos from a computer (File Explorer for Windows) into Photos library or into Albums 
  1. Go to the Photos library or open an existing album at Albums
  2. Drag and drop one or more files from your computer to Photos or into the album.
  3. A small pop-up window appears on the lower left corner of the monitor; if you click "Stop" - this will cancel the upload. The file(s) will appear in your library (look for it in "Recently added").
  4. If you dragged into an existing album, the photos now appear in the album (and in the library), and you may stop reading here.
  5. If you dragged into the library, you'll now see a larger pop-up window. Click the X to close the window if you only want the photo to appear in the library. Proceed with the following directions if you want to create a new album or add photos to an existing album. 
  6. If you didn't click X, you'll see "Add to Album" and "Shared Album." In this tutorial, we're going to "Add to Album"
  7. Click "Add to Album" then choose either "New album" or select an existing album from a list of albums. Finding an existing album may not be easy if you have hundreds of albums. You can use the browser's "Find" (Ctrl + F) function to find the album right away. 
  8. If you select "New album" you can rename the "Untitled" album by typing a new name in the Untitled field, then click "Done" (the check-mark in the top left side of the blue header). The new album name at Albums is searchable using the search bar after a delay of several minutes.

Upload photos into the Photos library using the Upload button

  1. From Photos, click "Upload" 
  2. Browse to a folder on your computer and click "Open"
  3. Select one or more photos (Ctrl+select) and click "Open". The photo(s) will upload to your library.
  4. A small pop-up window appears on the lower left corner of the screen
  5. If you click "Stop" - this will cancel the upload
  6. In the pop-up, you have the option to "Add to Album" then choose either "New album" or select an existing album. Finding an existing album may not be easy if you have hundreds of albums, but you can use Ctrl+F.
  7. If you select "New album" you can rename the "Untitled" album by typing a new name in the Untitled field, then click "Done" (the check-mark in the top left side of the blue header). The new album name at Albums is searchable using the search bar after a delay of several minutes.

Upload photos into Albums using the "Add photos" button

  1. Open an existing album at Albums
  2. Click the "Add photos" icon
  3. Click "Select from computer"
  4. Browse to a folder on your computer and click "Open"
  5. Select one or more photos (Ctrl+select) and click "Open" 
  6. The photo(s) will upload to your album and to the library
Remarks: If you see a message that photos were "skipped" click "View Skipped" and make a note the file name that was skipped; then upload again.

Upload for Picasa3 users

Google disabled direct upload from Picasa3 in March 2018. Picasa3 continues to be very useful for local management of a photo collection with basic editing and some extras such as creating collages. Emailing photos from Picasa3 using Gmail seems also disabled. Instead you can export (select 1600 pix or the size you want) and add as attachment to a mail. See this link.

The Picasa upload method must now be replaced by another workflow. Google suggests to use Backup & Sync, but this complex desktop app is intended to upload photos & videos in bulk to a big library, without automatically creating albums, like Picasa did. It uploads selected folders to Google Drive and Photos only once. Later local edits may sync to Drive, but not to Photos.

You can still use Picasa together with one of the manual upload methods described above.

To upload photos that are in an album in Picasa3 you always need to "Export" to get a folder with the photos you want to upload. See details below. 

To upload photos that are in a folder:

If you did not edit in Picasa3, you can right-click anywhere in a folder in Picasa > Locate on Disk (or Ctrl+Enter). That opens the folder in File Explorer / Windows Explorer (or Finder). From the folder, you can manually upload to Google Photos. 

If you edited in Picasa3, you must save an edited copy on the computer by using Export or Save. 

The "Export" method:
  1. Select thumbnails in the library of Picasa3. 
    To select all photos in a folder or album you can either use Ctrl+A or click between the photos to select none. To select photos from different folders/albums you must add them to the tray by clicking the green "Hold" button.
  2. Click "Export" and select the options you prefer. We recommend "Use original size" (for image size) and image quality of "Automatic" or "Maximum". Yuo can add numbers to preserve the order or add a watermark. See this link for details. 
  3. After clicking the "Export" button, the folder containing the exports automatically opens in File Explorer (same for Finder on Mac)
  4. Go to https://photos.google.com/settings and select  "High Quality (free unlimited storage)" or "Original." This setting works for future uploads only.
  5. You can now drag & drop selected photos to https://photos.google.com/ or directly into an open album. You can also use the UPLOAD button in Google Photos, or "Add to album" > "Select from computer" in an album. See further above for details.
  6. Immediately after the upload, you are prompted to add the photos to an album. You also find the recently added photos on top at https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_ 
  7. After you checked that the upload succeeded, you can delete the exported folder on your computer.

The "Save" method:
  1. Instead of using "Export" you can replace the original by an edited copy in File Explorer (or Finder) by "Saving" the edits. The original is filed away to a hidden folder .picasaoriginals under the actual folder, which thus doubles the storage use on the computer. See this link for details. This method is not suited for albums created in Picasa3. 
  2. Go to https://photos.google.com/settings and select  "High Quality (free unlimited storage)" or "Original." This setting works for future uploads only.
  3. You can now drag & drop selected photos to https://photos.google.com/ or directly into an open album. You can also use the UPLOAD button in Google Photos, or "Add to album" > "Select from computer" in an album. You find the location of the folder by hovering over the folder icon to the left of the folder title, or on top in the info panel of a photo.
  4. Immediately after the upload, you are prompted to add the photos to an album. You also find the recently added photos on top at https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_ 

The order of photos in an album

Since Google disabled direct upload from Picasa3, it is no longer possible to easily preserve the order of photos in an album at Google Photos. Google Photos allows sorting by date/time (oldest or newest first) or upload date/time, but not by file name. 

More info on how to change the order of photos at this link.