Nat TaylorBlog, Product Management & Tinkering

Introduction to Google Photos

Published on . Updated on

I need to help my Mom get familiar with Google Photos, so I gave her the following advice.  If you have any tips, please let me know at

I installed Google Photos on your phone which automatically syncs your photos to the Google cloud.

Give a try RIGHT NOW and let me know how it goes!

You can access them via app on your phone, or from any browser at (you must be logged into  They private and not accessible by anyone else, unless you explicitly share them.

Anything you do on any device is synced (e.g. If you create an album, it appears on both your phone and

It is important to understand the difference between the “Photos” tab and the “Albums” tab.

  • Deleting from the photos tab is like deleting a file (it goes to the trash, then its gone)
  • Removing from an album (delete isn’t allowed) just changes the album, not the original file.

My preference is to create albums on where I have a mouse, then next time I open the photos app they’re there!

You asked:

Is it using data to scroll through photos?  It depends.  Google Photos creates a large cache (1GB+) but photos that aren’t cached use data, though not very much.  Thumbnails only load if they are onscreen for ~1+ seconds, so if you scroll straight past them, no data is used.  Thumbnails load progressively, so at first they download a very lowres version (1-2 KB)

Why are Nat’s wedding photos in my photos? I went into your account and upload them (then I later removed them)

How can I get rid of photos?  You can always delete them, or you can also use the “archive” feature which removes them from your “Photos” tab and shows them in an “archive” tab instead.  You can also plug your phone into your PC and manually download the photos to store on your own file system, if you so choose.

How do I use the app?  You should see 4 tabs at the bottom:

  1. Assistant does automation like stitching together panoramas etc
  2. Photos is all your photos
  3. Albums is all your albums (aka there are no “files” there, just collections of files; so they are not like folders!)
  4. Sharing shows your sharing history

In the top left there is a ☰ (trigram icon) which has all of the rest of the settings, options, etc.  It’s where you get back to the trash, get to the archive, get to settings, etc etc

I can walk you through more stuff when you’re ready.  Google photos has tons of cool features!  A few quick tips:

  1. Editing: Look for the (pencil) icon to crop, rotate and adjust colors
  2. Search: Try searching for “quilt” and it should find quilts even if you haven’t labeled them that way
  3. Sharing: Look for the three-dot icon to share.
  4. Management: When you hover over a photo, look for the ✔ (checkmark icon) to select the photo, then you can go on to select more, then choose an action with the + (plus icon) to create or add to an album.  On your phone, long press a photo to do this.

You can also upload DSLR photos from the browser/your PC to have them show up in albums etc on your phone.  So if have a folder of DSLR pics that you want to be an album then:

  1. Go to
  2. Click Upload (Near the top, to the right of “Search”)
  3. Select the files and click OK
  4. Look for the “Progress” indicator in the lower left of your screen.
  5. When it finishes, look in the lower left for the “Create Album” link

NOTE: If you skip step #5, they will just go into your stream!  You have to explicitly create an album!  If you skip/forget/get lost you can always get back to your recent uploads at and create the album from there.

Popular Posts

Post Navigation