Google Photos—your ONE-Stop Photo Shop
We’re kicking off the series with Google Photos, mainly because they recently announced on their blog an exciting new feature called “Shared Libraries,” and it’s going to save you tons of time. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Why Google Photos?
What problems does it solve?Every photo problem, but seriously…
- Do you have endless digital photos in endless locations? Phone, computer, tablet, external hard drive, thumb drive, CD’s or DVD’s
- Have old hard copy photos from pre-digital picture days?
- Keep promising to send pictures to certain someones and keep forgetting?
- Need to find a picture of your dad for father’s day?
- Want to preserve your favorite trip pictures in an album and share them with the whole family? Why not give them the opportunity to contribute their trip photos?
- Ever wanted to make a cute movie of a collection of photos?
- How about creating a book of your favorite moments from the year?
- Best of all, if all of the above sounds nice, but you just don’t have time to even think about any of it, Google will do it for you.
Google Photos Uploader
This is going to become your best friend. Your Android devices will likely come with this pre-installed, but if you have any other devices that don’t yet have it, visit the Google Photos Uploader site to install it. When installing, select the option for “best” quality as it will allow you to have unlimited photos and video stored for free. If you’re worried about quality, don’t be, as this size image can be printed as large as 16x24 and the video will be stored at as large as 1080p HD, which is plenty of quality for the average user. Also select the folders you’d like to have Google auto back up. Select any folders you ever put pictures into, as well as one that you’ll copy photos into from your discs. Once you’ve got the uploader installed on your computer, plug in all of your external hard drives, thumb drives, and any discs that you have photos stored on, and let Google work it’s uploading magic.
Once they’re all uploaded and brought to a single place, your Google Photos Library, you’ll want to explore and view your photos. Google has some fabulous tools for viewing. You can change views on your phone for easier scrolling with your finger, and on a desktop computer you can scroll from your latest to oldest photo with a quick slide of the mouse. The slider bar labels the years and months so you can quickly find photos from any time.
Google has really focused its efforts on making sharing easy and effortless, especially with their newest feature. There are so many ways to share with Google Photos. First, in “Shared Libraries,” you can share your entire library, or just pictures with certain people, or just since a certain date. It also has an option to share albums with certain tagged people automatically, or you can do it manually. Best of all, when you share with people you have an option to allow them to contribute too, so you can have more than just your photos of that specific event, trip, or occasion.
Google’s tagging and organizing features are sincerely mind-boggling. I organized, tagged, and rated my photos for years manually using computer software, and the accuracy of Google Photos is truly awesome--not perfect--but surprisingly accurate. Google tags your photos based off of content with face tags, location tags, and even style tags (it categorizes selfies)--can’t wait to see what they come up with next. So when you click on the “search” button, you can find what you’re looking for based off of those tags.
Assistant & Creations
With their assistant feature Google auto-creates Movies, Albums, Animations, Stylized Photos, and Collages; it also gives you collections to help you Rediscover This Day, Rediscover Your Memories, see Recent Highlights, and other fun suggestions. If you want to make your own creations you can do that too. You can create:
- Albums: A collection of photos with an album. You can arrange photos according to your desires, add maps, location tags, and text to the album. You can also create a shared album where you can invite friends and family to contribute to or view the album.
- Movies: To create your own movie you’ll have to use your phone. This feature is not available on desktop yet. Select photos from an album or a random selection of your favorites to create a quick movie with music and great fade and pan effects.
- Animations: Create you own gif file from a set of pictures. Animate those quick shutter shots, or grab a few to create a fun flip-through series.
- Collages: Grab up to 9 photos and watch google create a cool collage.
- Photo Books: Share a collection of photos or an album in print with Photo Books--super simple to make and order.
This feature is a phone feature and tablet feature, meaning you can only get it on your handheld device. But you can use this feature to scan that box of old photos, a photo you find while visiting a relative, or even interesting clippings you come upon in your daily life. As a Family History buff and personal lover of all old photos, I would totally recommend getting a Shot Box to go along with this because it has incredible lighting and you could digitize just about anything using these two things together. But stand—alone there are still plenty of uses for this Google Photos feature.
After uploading and scanning all of your photos, you may want to make a few changes to them. Google’s editor allows you to crop, rotate, adjust lighting, color, and it also has a variety of filters. If you’re not much for figuring out those details, they have an “auto” option for each and all to make it quick and easy to improve your pictures. Another one of the great editing features is adjusting date and time, especially for scanned images. Usually digital images are date and time stamped accurately, but sometimes you’ll need to adjust, and whenever you scan a photo, you’ll want to adjust the date and time to most accurately reflect the date and time the image was taken, because your phone will auto-tag it as the date you scanned it.
My Favorite features?Assistant: When it comes to saving me time, this feature is my definite fav. I get random notifications of some of the coolest creations Google has made me. They often save me tons of time. Not only do they auto-create albums based off of several photos taken in a set time so I always get an album of some of my best photos from a trip collected for me, but it will now even let me auto share or manually share those albums with the family or friends I was on the trip with. On top of that it’ll give me options to make videos for occasions and select photos of the people the occasion is celebrating; e.g., photos of my dad for Father’s Day. OR, my favorite auto-creation it’s ever given me was a movie named “They Grow So Fast.” Google had selected an assortment of pictures of my son and me from throughout his life and created a movie. I quickly hit the share button and sent it to his email account with a nice note telling him how much I love him. Voila---I’m an awesome mom! He doesn’t have to know I didn’t spend a lot of time making the video.
Viewing: I LOVE being able to use the timeline to slide back to my photos from whatever year and month I’m interested in without having to search through folders to find what I’m looking for. If I have a specific event I want to see a photo of, I slide that bar quickly back to the approximate month and time and within a few seconds, I’m perusing my collection of photos and videos from that event.
Sharing: Have I mentioned TIME SAVER? Goodbye to the days of trading memory cards or constantly nagging your family for the photos they took at the last get-together. No more adding “send those photos to so and so” to your to-do lists. With their share features I can manually share quickly and easily, or set up auto-sharing based off of tagging. I also love being able to share my entire library with my spouse, and selectively sharing the pictures of the kids with my parents and in-laws. The old days of family blogging are completely obsolete with this feature because I don’t even have to do anything other than take the pictures to share with my family.
Search: When you’re looking for the perfect picture of a specific person, this feature comes in incredibly handy!
All around, Google Photos is your one-stop photo shop. I absolutely recommend it for all of your photo needs. I’ve been using it for years and have thoroughly enjoyed watching its improvements and new developments. I’m always excited to see what new things are coming down the pike. Can’t wait to see what’s next, and I’m certain we will revisit this app in future days.
Thank you Google, and specifically the Google Photos team for all the time you’re saving us Crazy-busy peeps!!