Google Photos has been around for a couple years now and is a go-to service for many people looking to store their photos and videos.

Google Photos not only lets you save personal media to a virtual locker but also makes that media available across all your devices. Plus, the service has all sorts of features for managing, viewing, editing, and discovering your digital memories. To help you navigate Google Photos, we've rounded up a selection of tips and tricks that'll maximise your experience and essentially make you a Google Photos pro.

Google Photos tips and tricks

Note: This guide is primarily about Google Photos for iOS and Android devices, unless otherwise noted.

Getting started

In the app, you'll see a menu bar with three main tabs: Assistant, Photos, and Albums. Assistant is where you go to rediscover old photos and see effects that were automatically created for you from your photos and videos. The Photos tab is essentially a list/grid of all your images and videos in Google Photos, while Albums is a list of all your albums and collections, some of which were auto-created (like People).

Use Google Photos on the web

Google Photos has a desktop website, where you can access Assistant, Photos, and Albums (on the right-hand side). There's also a search bar at the top, with create and upload and menu options. You can even rearrange the order of images in your collection from the site. Just select an image (click the check that'll appear on the thumbnail), then click the menu button in the upper corner, and select Edit date & time. Also, from the desktop site, you can press Shift-? on your keyboard to get a list of available shortcut commands.

Access the menu

Find the menu button (hamburger icon) in the search field, and then tap it to pull out the Google Photos menu (you can also swipe from left on any screen). The menu has options for managing Google Photos, including switching accounts. You'll also find your Trash here.

Manage your settings

In the menu, tap Settings. From there, you will see options to back up and sync to whichever Google account you're using, choose the types of Assistant cards you want to see, free up device storage, show Google Drive photos and videos in your Photos library, and way more.

Search your images

Google Photos is known for its intelligence and ability to smartly organise your media. You can use the universal search bar at the top of the app to find photos based on month, season, location, objects, or even general keyword like flowers or baby. You can use multiple search terms too. Oh, and you can search by emoji. Try the sunglasses emoji to find photos of people with glasses or sunglasses.

Browse your albums and collections

You can casually browse your albums under the Albums tab. There is also a carousel at the top with images and videos grouped into collections based on search terms, media type, and general theme (like People, Places, Things, Videos, Animations, etc).

Find specific images of people

Google Photos smartly helps you find images based on who appears in them. Go to the Albums tab and then select People to see a list of faces from your collection. If you want to search for someone by name, tap his or her face, then select Who is this?, and add their name. That name will then appear when you start typing it in the search bar. You can also use this process to ensure people are properly labeled in an image. Similarly, to hide a person, tap a person and then select the Hide people option.

Find recently added images

You can find the images and videos you uploaded most recently by going to the Google Photos site and clicking the search bar, then clicking the link labeled Show More, followed by Recently Added.

Pinch to view your Photos

Under the Photos tab, you can pinch in or out on the gallery to make the thumbnails smaller or larger. If you pinch in enough, you'll see a calendar view, but if you pinch out, you will get larger and larger thumbnails until you're ultimately zooming in on an image in full.

Jump back to image gallery

While viewing any image in full, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to jump back to the full image gallery (this works in both the Photos tab and the Albums tap). There's no need for the back button.

Quickly scroll to a specific date

When you're scrolling through the Photos tab or in an Album, and want to jump to a specific date, touch the quick-scroll button on the right side of the screen. All you have to do is push your finger up or down to fly through time and find your image.

Select multiple images

In the app, when you want to select a bunch of consecutive images, simply touch your finger to the first image until it becomes highlighted with a blue check mark, and then drag your finger up or down to quickly select more images at once. Once you select every image you want, you will see options to share them, create something new from them, delete them, or backup now.

Recover deleted images

Google Photos has a Trash folder that's accessible via the menu. Every deleted image or video stays in the Trash for 60 days and can be quickly recovered; just select an image and then tap the rewind icon (or delete button, if you want to fully purge it).

Editing your images

Google Photos is a powerful image editor. When viewing any image, tap the pencil icon to access several one-touch tools. You can add filters, crop, rotate, and adjust things like light, colour, and pop. Make sure to tap the down arrows next to light and colour to access even more options. It's worth playing around to see all the available editing tools.

Save a copy

When you save an image after editing, your modified version will replace the original. However, if you want to save it as a copy instead, don't tap save. Instead, tap the menu icon at the top of the screen to find the save copy option.

Create a creation

Google Photos lets you create movies, animations, and collages (aka creations) from any set of images or videos. Just select the items you want, then select the + option at the top of the screen, and choose what kind of creation you want to fiddle around with.

Don't forget Assistant

If you love the creation tools in Google Photos, make sure you consistently check the Assistant tab. It automatically generates animations, collages, and highlight videos from your library. It'll also create instant albums from images and offer fixes for photos.

Backup while charging only

You'll want to use Google Photos to back up all your photos to the cloud, but transferring that much data can kill your battery. Make sure to backup when your phone is charging. Go to settings, then tap Back up & sync, and look for the option labeled While charging only.

Backup device folders

Speaking of backing up, to back up all your images (not just the ones you took with your device camera), like images you've downloaded or maybe screenshots you've captured, go to settings, then select Back up & sync, and tap Back up device folders. You'll need to flip the switch on each folder to have its contents automatically synced with your Google Photos library.

Free up device storage

If all your device photos are backed up to the cloud, you can safely delete any local copies to free up some space. Find the option called Free up device storage in settings to get started. The app may also prompt you to enable this setting if your phone's storage gets low. 

Google Photos uploader

If you want to upload hundreds or thousands of images from your computer to the cloud, use Google's desktop uploader tool. It's completely free and available for both MacOS and Windows. The software basically makes it easier to batch-transfer images. It'll also let you automatically sync new images to Google Photos whenever you plug a camera or memory card into your system.

Batch download your collection

For a batch download of your entire collection, or if you just want to export all your Google Account data, use Google's Takeout tool. It's free.

Scan your old prints

If you have old printed photos you would like to store in Google Photos, Google offers a PhotoScan app for Android and iOS. You can access the download link from the menu in Google Photos. The app can smartly scan just about any photo, from anywhere, and in high resolution.

Share your image

Google Photos makes it easy to share your images and videos with anyone. Once you select an image, tap the Share button at the top. You'll see several options, including the ability to share to social media sites like Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram.

Share your album

After you select an image and tap the share button, you can select Shared album and then New shared album to create a shareable album. You can share this album with people, meaning anyone you send the album to will be able to view it. To manage a shared album, open the menu, then tap Shared, and select whichever album you want. Then tap the menu icon in the corner for sharing and delete options.

Create a link

After you select an image and tap the share button, you can select Create Link (or Get Link from the website) to create a shareable link for that image or video. Anyone you send the link to will be able to view that specific image or video.

Remove geo location

If you don't want your location data included any image or video, go to settings and then look for the Remove geo location option.

Cast your image to a TV

If you own Google's Chromecast dongle or a Chromecast-enabled TV, you can show off your images and videos on the big screen by tapping the cast button in the upper corner of the mobile app (it should appear if a cast-ready TV is available). Once you're connected, tap any image or video to send it to your television. If you want to cast a slideshow, open an image, then tap the menu, and select Slideshow. 

Want to know more?

Google has an entire Help Center with more tips for Google Photos.