If organizing photos was tossed around like a phrase, it would be titled ‘complicated as fuc%$*&.’ I am not kidding. Remember how I had that appointment at The Genius Bar. Yea, that amounted to nada. I mean, I felt like I was plopped right inside an episode of “True Detective” (season 2). He was definitely speaking English but I have no idea what the heck he was saying. And it wasn’t just me– the hub was there too and when we left Adam was all like, “huh?”
I suddenly felt like I was back to square one. Instead of going into panic mode, I texted my friend Heather who is quite good at organizing her own photos (she’s a Virgo) #Enoughsaid. So she agreed to come over the following Friday eve and show me the way to which I shouted, “THANK FREAKING GOD!” When she came over, she told me she just started using Google Photos to which I said… “I don’t know about this.” Only because a friend had used it recently and wasn’t thrilled with its organizing capabilities–as well as a couple non-plussed responses on an Instagram post about this very topic. Even though a few folks were less than thrilled with Google Photos, here are the reasons I decided to give it a go. It’s free and it seemed simple enough– not to mention Heather was vouching for it 100%.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, you must do this first before doing anything else; GO THROUGH YOUR PHOTOS AND PURGE. DELETE DUPLICATES AND ALL THE STUFF YOU DON’T NEED. If it seems like I’m yelling at you, it’s because I am. And listen, you can absolutely do this without purging first but it just won’t feel as good, okay?!
- So the first step is to download the Google Photos app onto your phone (technically, it’s the second step if you’re purging first).
- Then go under the “settings” tab inside the app.
- Make sure it’s set to “back up & sync.”
- Next, choose the Gmail account you are using to back up with (your Google photos will be found in two places; on the app on your phone and online at Google Photos).
- I chose not to backup using cellular data (but feel free to do as you please). Basically, my photos back up when I’m home.
- I also picked the “High Quality” version (free unlimited storage). They have an ‘Original’ version which backs up the really big sized pictures, but for my uses (Instagram and personal pics, the “High Quality” option works great).
- I also found that I have to have the app open to the “Assistant” tab for the photos to back up (not the biggest deal but you might find that it backs up without having it open).
I had about 4,000 pics on my photo stream that I had to back up (it took almost 24 hours), but again, some of that time I didn’t have the app open on my phone so that could be why it took so long. You’ll also want to make sure that you have “Auto-lock” on your phone set to “Never” while it’s backing up. Again, I found that if it wasn’t open, it wasn’t working as fast. [On your phone, go to “SETTINGS”, then scroll down to “GENERAL,” then scroll down to “AUTO-LOCK” and highlight “NEVER.” [You’ll just want to go back in and change this once your big back-up is done].
The last three places that I still had pics that synced to my iPhone were:
- The iPhone Photos App under the “Shared” part of my photo stream. The only way I could get them off (shout-out if you have a better way) was to go into the shared photo stream and select all (or some if I didn’t want them all) and save them to my phone. Then Google Photos would do their thing and back them up.
- You might also have pics stored under the Photos tab on your computer.
- The last place I found pics hiding was over at my iCloud account that you access via the world wide web.
A couple things to note here; The pics might vary slightly from each place you look; it’s because you might have deleted photos off of your iPhone but your iCloud account wasn’t set to sync up and delete that old photo.
Okay, if you’re still with me, the next to last step to this process was to organize them within Google Photos (I did this on my computer but I suppose you could do the same within the app on your phone). It’s just a lot easier to see them on the laptop and why strain my eyes if I don’t have to, riiiiiiight?! Three things to note for now;
- As you organize your photos into collections, do not delete them from the main photo stream in Google Photos. Basically they have two ways to view them; The Collections tab (photos that you organize by category) and The Photos tab. If you delete pics from the Photos tab, you’ll be deleting them from their collections. So NEVER delete pics from the Photo tab unless you don’t want the photo at all. Does that make sense??
- The Assistant tab basically acts as a fun aunt who makes collages of your photos and does neat things with them. It’s kinda neat but for a straight-shooter like me, I disregarded this tab altogether. Totally a personal decision, and you can absolutely save these creations to your Photos tab and then categorize them into Collections if you wish.
- So after I was done organizing them into fun collections like ‘Adam’s Birthday’ and ‘Brittany & Todd’s Wedding’ I went back to my iPhone and DELETED ALL OF MY PICS. MY GOODNESS I’VE NEVER FELT SO FREE IN MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE. I also did the same thing on my desktop and iCloud. I hit the delete button like it was going out of style.
And let me answer the question you’re asking yourself; Beth, why did you delete all the pics off of your iPhone??
- We are going on our Honeymoon soon to South Africa for two weeks where I plan on taking a zillion pics. I don’t need some freaky message saying “Not enough storage.”
- The photos weren’t organized.
- I freed up all my photo space so my phone can run at tip-top speed.
- I can easily access all of my backed up photos via the Google Photos app on my iPhone.
- The apps that Apple uses to organize photos are downright confusing. There’s your Camera App on your iPhone and within that are ‘Moments,’ ‘Collections,’ ‘Albums,’ ‘Shared’ (and don’t get me started on the syncing that does, or doesn’t, happen with the Photos app on my desktop and iCloud). I was so tired of being frustrated with not knowing what was backed up where–so for me, Google Photos was the super simple solution for that.
And now I have a really easy system for dealing with pics that I take from here on out;
- Take photo.
- Photos back up automatically to Google Photos (Again, right now, for me the Google Photo App has to be pulled up and open to back up. Not the hugest deal but looking into this and will report back.
- Organize photos into categories.
- Delete off of iPhone (I need to turn off syncing so that my photos aren’t going to my iCloud account and desktop Photos app). I will also report back with info on how to do this step.
It sounds like you have a little bit of homework and I do as well; stay tuned as we haven’t even talked about duplicates, my photos stored in Dropbox (or the other numerous places that they are located). And while there’s still work to do, the fact that my phone is free of unorganized pics is PRICELESS.
Previously… Organizing Digital Pics, Part I