Feb 242016

I went for a walk with my Mom the other afternoon. We have this favorite little park, and it was a gorgeous day. She’s walking pretty slow these days, so I had ample opportunity to take my phone out of my pocket and snap pictures. I showed her each picture I took and she would point out something else worthy of a shot.

Editing Pictures as you Take Them is FUN

I was excited to catch the duck in flight just as it came in for a landing. Then I looked at the photo on my phone and realized that you couldn’t even see the duck! It needed to be cropped. No problem, with no tools other than my finger and the phone, I tap on the little pencil that brings up Google Photos editing tools, tap the crop tool and drag a corner in closer to the duck while still leaving some of the lily pads in the shot. I tap the checkmark to signal that I’m done with cropping, Then, one tap on the Auto adjustment gives me a better look.

The second picture below just has an auto adjustment applied, and the third has a crop and auto adjustment.

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Yes you can make a collage on your phone

I took a few more pictures, including a selfie of Mom and me that needed no improvement at all! It was such a nice day I wanted to share it with my friends on Facebook, but I didn’t want to post multiple pictures, so I decided to make a collage. Still using nothing but Google Photos on my phone:

  1. I select 7 pictures
  2. Tap the + button in the upper right
  3. Choose Collage
  4. Voila!


While viewing the collage, I tap the share button image, choose Facebook, and post to Friends. I also tapped the + and added the collage to my monthly Web Album on Google Photos.

During this lovely one hour walk, I took pictures, enjoyed having Mom point out more pictures, had fun editing them, and shared a collage to Facebook, and added the day’s collage to my monthly album … all before even getting back to the car!

Google Photos has removed all the work and left only the play

In years past, I would have taken my digital SLR camera – a Canon Rebel T3i – and taken many of the same pictures. After getting home I would need to transfer them from the camera to the computer, decide where to store them, spend some time doing the editing, upload the best ones to the web, make the collage and upload that too. That would probably take me a half hour using Picasa, much longer with other software. A half hour may not sound like much, but when you multiply that times all the days and all the pictures I like to take – well, I think you get the idea. And, worse than the time it takes is when I didn’t take the time and never enjoyed my pictures or shared them.

I love playing with my pictures and trying out the different creations that Google Photos includes. And, at the end of the day, I’m done. All my photos are safely, and privately, stored in my Google Account in the cloud. I can delete them from my phone to free up space for taking more! I also have Microsoft OneDrive grabbing a copy of all my phone’s photos for the ‘belt and suspenders’ protection. This is all automatic.

No work and all play makes me a happy girl!

You can learn to use Google Photos with Geeks on Tour tutorial videos. Some are free. To watch them all, you need to be a Geeks on Tour premium member. Here’s a video that demonstrates exactly what I did in this article:

  15 Responses to “Google Photos: All Play and No Work!”

  1. I thought that the change to Google Photos would be exciting…..but am so disappointed, and expected so much more.
    Their date method is no way better than Picasa eg: looking for a photo taken in London is simple, just type in London and up they come. Simple!!! With Google photos I have to remember the – year and month! and then tediously sort through them. I know a lot of people who are not happy with Google Photos just with that basic first step.

    • Have you tried using Google Photos search? It’s at the top middle of the screen. I type in London and do, indeed get all my pictures from London, regardless of the date.

  2. Goodness Google Photos gets worse almost by the day. I wanted to make a collage – maybe its different using the phone, but on the desktop. You make the collage – fine, but there is no way I can see that you can then rearrange and move the items around. I recall you could do this before – but perhaps I’m wrong on this.
    Then that dreadful looking, annoying row of thumbnails at the top of GP with labels, people, places, etc. Just incredibly annoying. You have to wonder who thinks this stuff up.

  3. The store has two google photo’s to pick from. Is there a difference?

    • Which store? There should only be one. The second line should say Google, Inc. and the icon looks like a multicolored pinwheel.

  4. I don’t seem to have a pencil under my pics on my phone. Do I have to download an app to get Google photos?

  5. look at Zoner and Zonerama programs that are close to picasa

  6. Super ! But what about capitons ?
    I have a great number of diaporamas on Picasa Albums Web with captions (they are very important for me…). What will happen if/when I switch to Google Photos ???

  7. What is the difference between Google Photos and Google Drive?

  8. Very nice article and accompanying video – excellent work Chris.
    No matter how much fun in my humble opinion it looks like there are no CAPTIONS. If I viewed the photos I couldn’t tell the species of duck you highlighted, where it was located, or perhaps a bit of explanation about this species. As a viewer I would only see a collection of photos and would have no idea what I was looking at – if I viewed on my PC I could pull out the Information bar and see any Captions you might have added, but only a few words it mostly cuts them off. Alternatively if I viewed on my phone or iPad there would be no captions had you added any.

    That said, I’ll go ahead and ask, even though perhaps not the right place –

    I can’t seem to wrap my head around the following:

    I want to migrate Picasa Web Albums exactly as they are now displayed, i.e. the entire album with the photos and included in the photos the CAPTIONS as they are now displayed at the bottom of the photo. The captions below most photos is what is important to view.

    SmugMug who I think I might use indicated: if the information that you added to the photos in Picasa edited the metadata on the images then that information will be imported with the images to SmugMug. If Picasa only add text to the images and it doesn’t change the metadata then the comments and so forth will likely not transfer.
    I don’t understand what this means or how to correct it.

    Also I downloaded my photos in Google Takeout – several zip files. I don’t know what to do with these files.
    Yes I was able to open them – but when I try to import to SmugMug gallery there are only comments displayed on a few photos in the test gallery/album I put in my SmugMug. When I opened one of the zip files I could see files with the names of my Albums as displayed in Picasa Web Albums and the photos, but also many individual folders that are labeled with dates such as 2010-07-10 inside those folders are photos that can hold photos that are not in the Web Albums and a file named metadata.json

    I do not want most of the photos I see in these folders – I only want the photos that have been edited and displayed in my Picasa Web Albums that mostly have Captions with them. Here is an example of an Album with 52 photos in it – I would love to be able to display photos someplace else that look just like these.

    It would be horribly slow process to transfer one album at a time to SmugMug because I have 91 albums, but I can’t seem to figure out how to even transfer a single album.

    Is there some step by step directions describing how to easily transfer the Picasa Web Album photos with the captions – please point me on the right direction. I would be grateful.

    Thanks in advance I’ve managed to get so confused I can’t move forward with a nice design, etc. until I know I am able to migrate the Picasa Web Album photos as they are exactly​ displayed now.

    I’m not confident the “place” google creates to view our Web Albums will include the Captions, or a way to make all of the photos public for viewing. Of course we know we will not be able to add photos to this archival type “place.”

    I hope its just me that can’t figure this out, or has Google made it near impossible to move the Web Albums to another service.

    If you don’t want to respond to all this I understand.

    • I have the same question. Will there be an answer?

    • Evelyn, You know I agree with you about captions! But … Google Photos does have Descriptions – not exactly the same, but they are there. If you view your current photos and click the i for information, whatever captions you have in Picasa Web Albums will be there.
      I don’t know of any way to exactly duplicate Picasa web albums in a migration.
      I recently read in the forums a possible migration tool – can’t find it offhand.

      My understanding of the albums with names like 2010-07-10 is that this is how Picasa Web Albums dealt with the fact that Google Photos includes pictures that aren’t in albums. Picasa Web Albums ONLY has pictures in albums, so when ‘loose’ pictures are added to your account, it had to make up albums for them.

      As for Google Takeout – I downloaded everything and just put it on an external hard drive for disaster protection. I don’t plan to actually use that copy for anything.

      I think Dropbox or OneDrive are good options for preserving folders. So, using Picasa, do a File->Import from Google Photos, select the albums you want and download. That creates folders under a “Downloaded Albums” folder. Then you can copy or move that whole structure to Dropbox or OneDrive folders.
      Keep us posted

      • Hi,
        Whew! is right Chris.
        Just to note on Picasa help forum – they are reporting Google Takeout has a bug and isn’t downloading correctly – I guess to consider if anyone did a Takeout lately. This must be why my photos that I opened in Takeout are an overall mess.

        Here is what I did to give a try to migrating –
        Opened a $5 a month SmugMug I can convert it to $40 for a yr if I decide to use the service.
        The basic service like its name offers basic design and customizing – but should be adequate for my needs.

        Its easy to get your photos on your site via a Firefox extension called Smugglr. Took about 3 min. for around 500 photos.
        All of my captions are intact. There are 5 different ways to customize how you want all galleries/albums displayed or you can display one or some one way and others another way.
        Homepage: https://evsphotos.smugmug.com/

        Galleries displayed in 2 of the 5 different ways:




        Anyway – work in progress. Who knows in May Google Photos might be greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m just plodding along trying to not over react on one hand, yet begin some preparations in case Google Photos just doesn’t work out for me.

        One more whine – I don’t like it that I can’t make all of my Google Photos public, but have to do individual sharing links.

  9. Chris,
    Do I have to use the folder upload feature in Picasa to get my photos from my computer into Google Photos? I have a large number of folders and that doesn’t seem very efficient.
    I really enjoy your Sunday programs.

  10. Is there any to eliminate duplicate photos from my computer?

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