How to upload photos to Google 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 automatically creating albums. BUS uploads to "My computer" on Google Drive and from there to Google Photos.

  2. Uploading manually using various methods allows you to add the photos immediately to albums. This method is more work, but is simple to do. You keep 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 works. 

If you used the Desktop Uploader and now want to begin using Backup & Sync, you may encounter problems with duplicates. It is recommended to start with a sample, or exclude already uploaded folders. 

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). 

  • If you want to convert folders on your computer to albums in Google Photos, it would be better to upload manually (see methods below). 

  • When you activate "Show Google Drive photos & videos in your Photos library" in Settings, the photos will be added to your Google Photos library. See search box > More options > Google Drive which brings you to https://photos.google.com/search/_td_

    Remark: we recently discovered that searching in Photos with names of the folders in Drive finds a hidden album with title and photos of that folder. If wanted you can select all photos and add them to a normal album. 
    See 
    https://support.google.com/photos/thread/638150 

  • When you select "High Quality" in the Backup & Sync app, photos will be compressed and will NOT count against your Google storage, unless Photos skips them (then they will use storage in Drive).

  • BUS doesn't use any storage quota if standard JPG's are used. Some RAW and videos may count against the quota, but you will see a warning message. 

  • The Drive folders may be two-way synced with the folders on the computer. That means that Backup & Sync" is not a real "backup". Erroneous deletions, corrupted files, etc., may also sync two ways. Be sure to have another backup method (such as to external hard drives and/or other cloud services). 

  • 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. 

Drag & Drop to "Photos" (the library) or into an album

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 https://photos.google.com or open an existing album or create a new one (click the empty album with +) at https://photos.google.com/albums.

  2. Drag and drop one or more files from your computer to Photos or into the open 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 sorted by date taken. You can also find them in "Recently added" sorted by upload date).

  4. If you dragged into an album, the photos now appear in the album (and in the library), and you may stop reading here. Note that, if a photo was already uploaded and is not uploaded again, it will still be added to the album.

  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 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. If you click "Stop" - this will cancel the upload

  5. 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.

  6. 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 names that were skipped, then upload again. If there are many you can just upload all photos again. There should be no duplicates uploaded, only the skipped ones. 

Uploading 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 the size you want) and add as attachment to a mail. 

The Picasa upload method must now be replaced by another workflow. 

Use "Backup & Sync" (B&S)

This complex desktop app is intended to upload photos & videos in bulk to Google Drive and Google Photos, 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.
A user discovered that, when you use this method, you can search in Photos with titles of the folders in Drive. The result is a hidden album showing the photos of that Drive folder. You can select all these photos and add them to a new album in Photos, but there will be no further syncing.

When using "Backup & Sync" you must select "High Quality" or "Original" in that app. The setting in https://photos.google.com/settings is not valid when using B&S. 

Upload manually from folder to album

You can still use Picasa together with one of the manual upload methods described above, preferably directly to an album.

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 create an edited copy on the computer by using Export or Save. 

The "Export" method (recommended):
  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". You 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 (or 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 use the Upload button or drag & drop selected photos to https://photos.google.com/. 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_ 

  6. But you can also create a new (empty) album or open an existing one, and drag & drop directly into the open album or use "Add to album" > "Select from computer". 

  7. After you checked that the upload succeeded, you can delete the exported folder on your computer (optional).
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.  

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. For albums created in Picasa3 the "Export" method is recommended.. 

  2. You can now use steps 4-6 of the "Export" method to upload the photos.

  3. 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

It is not possible to sort by file name in an album in Google Photos, but there are workarounds. More info at this link.

How to get all photos in albums

In Picasaweb all your photos were automatically added to albums. Backup & Sync however uploads all photos to the library, and no longer automatically to albums. Re-creating the albums on Google Photos can be very cumbersome, but the following may help:
  • Upload new photos manually. After the upload you are prompted to add them to an album. 

  • When you uploaded photos from a computer to Google Drive (and activated "GoogleDrive" in https://photos.google.com/settings) or using "Backup & Sync" you can search in Google Photos with the title of the folder and get a hidden album. You can select all photos and create a new album for it. See this link.

  • You find new uploads on top on  https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_  (sorted by upload date). You also get there by clicking in the search bar > Show more > Recently added. Interesting for example for uploads of scanned or other photos that are not easily found in the timeline. 

  • You can systematically add photos to an album from top to bottom in the timeline. Keep record of where you stopped. In case of doubt you do not have to check whether a photos is not already in an album: duplicates will not be added. 

  • You could "Archive" all photos you added to an album (3-dots > Archive), so that they are hidden from the library and shown in https://photos.google.com/u/0/archive instead. The archived photos are still shown in albums. 
    I would not recommend that method though: 
    • After you added photos to an album the selection is lost, and you cannot archive from within the album. You will have to select the exact same photos again which is time consuming and error prone. 
    • In case you share your library: photos in archive are not shared. Archiving is intended to remove "clutter" you do not want to see in your library or share.