Jan 032015


If you are using Google+ Auto-Backup you may have noticed thousands of pictures in a place Google calls “All Photos.” I think the term “Auto-Backup” is misleading because this is not a true Backup that you can use to Restore to your computer should disaster strikes, it is simply a single-file collection of ALL your photos.

When you first visit your photos in Google+ you will be seeing something called “Highlights.” This is Google’s selection of what it thinks is the most important content from all your photos. It seems to me that they pick about 30% of my photos for this view.

In case you have never visited your photos on Google+, the web address is plus.google.com. If you are logged in, you will see a Home menu at the left with a drop-down arrow, click there to see the option for photos. Now you should be looking at something similar to the screenshot above, and you have 3 primary choices on how to view your pictures: 1: the Highlights that Google selects, 2: All photos, or 3: Albums – under the More menu. Albums are those groups of photos that you have intentionally created. All Photos is exactly that … ALL photos. All photos has no organization other than date.

Do not try to organize the All photos, and do not try to clean them up. They are visible to only you, and you cannot change that. The only way someone else could see the pictures in the All photos collection would be to log in with your username and password. If disaster should befall your computer, you cannot use this All photos collection to restore your pictures in their original folders. Why? Because there are no folders in All photos. I use All photos for two things: 1: just to browse around by date, sometimes I see a picture I’d forgotten and I really like it – I might copy it out to an Album and 2: to recover individual photos that I have lost or accidentally deleted.

If you’re still confused as to the relationship between All photos and Albums, watch this short video.

This was part of an hour-long “What Does This Button Do?” live show. You can watch the recording on Youtube at: What Does This Button Do? Episode 19: Google+ Photos

For Geeks on Tour members, you may want to watch these as well:

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Google Maps, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

  5 Responses to “What is Google+ ALL Photos?”

  1. You mentioned that you occasionally peruse “All Photos” and sometimes see a photo that you decide to move to an album. This surprised me because I find “All Photos” almost unusable for this. If I see a photo there, there is no way to tell if that photo is already in an album or not. If I move it, I may then have two copies in the album. I tried this and that IS what happens. For large collections with lots of large albums, this is just too painful. G+ needs some real work here before it can be considered even barely passable for photo management. Flickr, despite many other faults, has tags to show you all the albums that contain a photo in question.

  2. In october 2014 my wife and I spent 3 weeks in the game reserves in Botswana and South Africa. I took 2100wild life pictures on my new Lumix Panasonic camera . about 5% are video pictures and the rest are stills .When I go home I downloaded all pictures useing picasa for the download onto my new ASUS computer which run windows 8.1 .I like to view the pictures in the order they are taken ie still, still , video ,still etc .I tried viewing them on my new ASUS computer. The still pictures ran OK ,but when I came to a video picture and pressed the triangle in the center of the video frame it played the audio fine but would not play the video ( ie I had all the audio portion but just a blank screen for the video part of it. I said this is stupid .My old laptop which is a Toshiba satellite which runs on XP runs these perfectly from my camera. .To prove it to myself I downloaded the same 2100 pictures to my old Toshiba .They ran perfectly like they had in the past .I then checked the Picasa verions and they where the same .I then took both laptops to a computer programmer who was also famliar with photography and said whats the problem.He said I think when Microsoft built their new Windows 8.1 software they made a slight change ( maybe just a switch that was not turned on ) He tells me it up to software cpy to make all the up grades to their programs to run on the new windows 8.1 .This mean we have get a hold the google people and see if they have quick fix already or can they make one. I am hoping you could make this request to them on my behalf since you already have a relationship with them.I really like Picasa and dont want to have to buy another program and learn how to run it. I phoned you in early Dec at Palm Creek and said we where going to Palm Creek the end of Dec and I would bring both laptps and have you sort it out when we arrived. However I had cancer show up in my liver and started Chem Dec 31 and had to cancell our 3 months at Palm Creek. Hopefully you can sort the problem out for me. Thanks for your help …David Ingledew

  3. Chris, I think you’re mistaken about Google+ and the ability to get all your photos should disaster strike. Google’s “Data Liberation Front” allows you to get almost everything Google has stored for you. If you go to https://www.google.com/settings/takeout and choose “Google Photos” I’m pretty sure you’ll get them all. Even if you haven’t created specific albums for your photos, Google has created them by date…or so I think. No, I haven’t tried it so I might be mistaken. Here’s another reference: http://www.zagg.com/community/blog/export-all-google-plus-photos-from-google-drive-to-disk/

    • You’re right Hugh, You can absolutely get all your pictures from Google+ but they won’t be in the folders where you had them in your computer. You can’t “Restore” and have your computer back the way it was, the way a normal disaster recovery backup works. But at least you haven’t lost your pictures.

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