Oct 312015

imageIt’s easy to get your pictures UPloaded to the cloud – just turn on the Backup and Sync feature of the Google Photos app on your phone. But how do you get them down to your computer?

I still want my pictures, at least my best ones, to be stored on my computer (or external hard drive.) I’m not comfortable with my only copy of pictures being the cloud copy. For the last 12 years my process has been to collect all pictures from my camera(s) and put them on my computer. Then to upload just the best ones to the cloud and share them. Now, because of Google Photos, my process is being reversed! Google Photos is automatically uploading all my photos to the cloud and I want the best ones copied down to my computer. I have identified 4 methods for downloading my pictures from the cloud (Google Photos) to my computer. Right now I like method 3 the best, but one of the other methods might suit your needs. Please leave a comment for what you think.

Method 1: Downloading Albums of Photos to your Computer

If you’ve used the Google Photos tools to put your best pictures into albums, you can then download those Albums to your computer.

  1. Open the desired album in Google Photos (on a computer using a Web Browser)
  2. Click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose “Download All”
  3. This will create a .zip file of all the pictures in the album and, depending on your browser’s settings, it will ask you where you want to save the zip file, or it will automatically save it in your Downloads folder. You can even save that .zip file straight to your external hard drive if you’d like.
  4. If your purpose for downloading is simply a backup, you’re done. If you want to see those pictures using Picasa, you need to Extract the picture files from the .zip and save them in the My Pictures folder, where Picasa will see them.

Method 2: Download Groups of Photos to your Computer

If you haven’t created albums, you can simply select a group of photos (click on the checkbox in the upper left corner of each photo.) Then click the 3-dot menu and choose download. This will create a .zip file just like in the method 1.

*Method 3: Downloading Individual Pictures to your Computer

*This is my current preferred method. I don’t want zip files, I want the individual pictures to be in my Pictures folder, preferably in the folder for the month they were taken. That’s been my system for the last 12 years and I kind of like it! Here’s how I do it when all my pictures are already in Google Photos:

  1. View my recent photos using Google Photos (using the Chrome browser.)
  2. When I see a ‘keeper’ I click the 3-dot menu in the upper right and choose Download. On my system, I am now prompted for a location for the downloaded file. I navigate to my Pictures\yyyymm folder. If your browser doesn’t prompt you for the location it is probably automatically downloading your picture to your Downloads folder. You need to change the Browser’s (Chrome) settings so that it asks you for a location for each download. Here is a help article on how to change download settings.
  3. Repeat #2 for each ‘keeper’ as I browse thru my pictures. This is a bit cumbersome, but I find it the best of my available options. I regularly browse thru my recently added Google Photos anyway. Just be sure to do it from the computer and download the ones I like best. Not too bad.

Method 4: Use Picasa to Download Albums

If you have made albums using Google Photos, you can use Picasa on your computer to download those albums.

  1. Using Picasa on your computer
  2. File->Import from Google Photos
  3. Check the box to Import Selected Albums then Choose the Album from the list presented

That’s it! This downloads the actual pictures, not a .zip file. Pretty slick, BUT there are two problems:

  1. It only downloads pictures not already on your computer. If you have already used any other method to get some, or all of the pictures, then the imported album will be incomplete.
  2. It doesn’t ask for a location. It automatically downloads your imported albums to a special location. In Picasa, you will see a collection at the left sidebar called “Web Albums.” On your hard drive, it will have a numeric identifier like: C:\Users\Chris\Pictures\Downloaded Albums\104655811483131756227\Blackbeard’s Dive Trip Oct 2015

Use Picasa to Create Albums

I still like to use the Picasa tools to create my Web Albums. There are 3 things that I can do with this method that I can’t do by creating Albums with the Google Photos tools

  1. Captions: When I add a caption using Picasa, that caption is part of the metadata of the picture. When I upload that picture to Google Photos, the caption becomes the Description. This doesn’t work the other way around: when I add a description in Google Photos and then download the picture, the description is lost, there is no caption.
  2. Watermarks: Picasa has an option to add a watermark to all uploaded photos automatically, so I can add © GeeksOnTour.com to every picture.
  3. Public Albums: My purpose to creating albums is to share those pictures. When I use Picasa to upload an album, I have the option to make that album Public. There is no such option with Google Photos (yet.) When I have a library of public albums, I can still use my Picasa Web Albums link (picasaweb.google.com/chrisguld) to let people see ALL my shared photos.

There is one drawback to using Picasa to upload – it does not (yet) support the new “High Quality” file size. To keep your unlimited free storage, you must select the size called “Best for Sharing” which shrinks your photo to 2048 pixels on the longest side. For me, this is not a problem. 2048 pixels is plenty big enough to view the picture online and that is my purpose.

Please leave a comment to let me know which method you prefer, or any questions you have.

  19 Responses to “Getting Your Pictures Down from the Google Photos Cloud”

  1. I need to find old photos from 3 yrs ago

  2. […] https://picasageeks.com/2015/10/getting-your-pictures-down-from-the-google-photos-cloud/ I know a lot of you are now taking photos with your smartphone and automatically saving them to the cloud with Google Photos. Chris Guld provides four options in this post to download them from there. Method number three is what I use, but one of the others might suit you better. […]

  3. These articles are very helpful. But please provide a printable copy and icon to trigger printing. Since starting on Windows10, I can’t seem to print anything but the heading unless cut and paste to a word processor. Thanks.

  4. I can’t get Google Photos to upload my pictures on my Windows 10. I also can’t get access to see albums I upload to the Web Album feature on Picasa. It says my access is denied.

  5. Chris
    I think Takeout is a fifth option

  6. I’m in hybrid world. I still shoot with a separate camera much of the time, especially when traveling out of the country. Those photos I transfer to the computer (memory card to slot and drag to preferred location) and let Google “back them up” to Google Photos at the “free” file size. For belt and suspender I have Carbonite running to back up everything AND an external hard drive. I use a lot of data. My wife is running the same routine and she has an MFA in Photography so we really burn bandwidth.

    I have not downloaded my phone camera pics to the computer, yet. I will follow through on the idea and #3 will be how I will do it. No need for long term storage of pics of parking places and bottle labels.

  7. mine shows
    import from picasa web albums

  8. I use method 3. I have used picasa since it started and have loved it. I hate that I had so many albums that I had uploaded at full strength then when picasa started syncing with Google plus photos, I was going to have to pay as I had so many albums there. It is also a pain that if you do have a picasa album and you decide to delete some from Google Photos it deletes it from everywhere else you have it online in a google feature.

    I want my own pictures on my computer at all times and I do back them up with an external drive, so even if they are posted, they are on my computer or drive. I also share most of my albums and I do that with Picasa as I don’t like how Google Photos does it and also the caption feature as you mentioned.

    • I SO agree with you that it is a problem that deleting from Google Photos deletes pictures from Albums AND anywhere else the photo has been used – like forums and blogs – I wish they had some kind of badge on the pictures that are in use somewhere else so you know not to delete it. It is good to log a feature request using the Google Photos menu->Help and Feedback->Feedback.
      Since I normally upload to albums using Picasa, and Picasa automatically adds a watermark for me – I do have a kind of badge. I know that if I see a watermark on one of my pictures, it is one that is used in an album. And, I only use public album pictures in my blog. So, I never delete a picture with a watermark.

  9. When the pictures are uploaded to the cloud is the byte count reduced? I have found that this happens with Apple cloud.

    • Al, whether the size of your photos is reduced when backed up is a matter of what settings you choose. We recommend the “High Quality” setting because you get unlimited FREE storage that way. This does compress the files to reduce the file size, but the resolution is close to original at 16 megapixels. If you choose Original: Full Resolution, then they are not reduced at all, but they count against the 15GB storage allotment provided by your Google account.

  10. I am totally confused with the cloud. I use a Mac and I have a folder that I call pictures and I use Picasa. I thought my pictures were actually being stored in the picture folder and a copy was sent to the cloud. Are my pictures actually stored in the cloud and a copy in the picture folder or is it the other way around?

    • Linda,
      If you’re using a Mac – then you’re probably right about your photos. You’re taking them from your camera (real camera or phone) and transferring them to your computer – right? Then the Google Photos Uploader is copying them to the “cloud.” Realize that “cloud” is just another word for Internet. On a Mac, you might also have your iCloud settings so that your pictures are being uploaded to your Apple Account in the cloud. The Google Photos Uploader will copy your pictures to your Google Account in the cloud.
      I take most all my pictures with my phone, then Google Photos (on my phone) is automatically uploading them to my Google Account in the cloud – no computer involved. This article is about the easiest way to get them to my computer from there.
      It is important for you to know what is set up on your computer. It’s possible that you have neither Google Photos Uploader OR iCloud set to backup your photos. Then your only copy is on your computer.

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