Getting to know the new Google Photos

I recently wrote about the fact one of my favourite photo organising programs, Picasa, is being retired by Google, as they are focussing on Google Photos. I’m still finding my way around there, and there have been significant changes in the last month or two.  So I am sharing some of the questions I’ve had or still have and where I’ve found the answers.   I will continue to add to/update this page as I learn new things about Google Photos and your comments are welcome.

For total beginners to Google Photos, I suggest starting with the help section below.  You will need a Google account to get started.  The main website for Google Photos is here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.54.06

Even if you are already a user, it’s interesting to log out of your Google account for a moment, and look at that link to see how they are marketing it to new users (with an outline of all the features).  If you are logged into Google when you go to that page, you go straight to your own Google Photos home screen.

1.  How do I find help with Google Photos?

There is an official Google Photos Help Section here: with an overview of the basics of how to use Google Photos.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.45.02

And a users Forum here:!forum/photos where you can ask your own questions and browse/search other user questions

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.40.37

2.  Where do I start?!

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 12.12.18

There are basically 4 main “parts” to using Google photos.

Assistant:   a really interesting and powerful feature (but also a little baffling sometimes).  This section uses photos you have uploaded to present you with a number of films, albums and more.  You can accept or reject the suggestions.

Photos: a chronological display of every photo you have uploaded.  At the top of this, at least on the desktop version I’m looking at, there is a cool feature that scans all your photos and presents them in a variety of collections – things, places and videos.  Apparently there can be a “people” option here too but I can’t figure out how to turn it on.   These photos are all private (apparently) until you choose to put them in a shared album.

Albums: all your albums in chronological order.

Shared Albums: You can choose who to share your albums with.  This is confusing me a little at the moment. It seems if you choose to share a single photo, it will create a whole shared album for this.  You can also opt to have an album where friends & family can add photos to the one shared album.

3.  How do I create a new album?

To date, the albums already created in my Google Photos account were because I synced them from Picasa.  There seem to be several ways to create a new album (private) or shared album in Google Photos.  One of the easiest is to go to the Assistant and select a new one from there and follow the steps:

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 12.12.47

4.  How do I see an overview of albums?

On the far left hand side and there is an album icon.  You can scroll through the albums, which are in chronological order.  I’ve discovered that it creates the date on the album based on the oldest date for the actual photos in the album, or creates a date range.  The date of a photo is generally “attached” in the data when you take/upload it digitally.  You can change this by clicking the “i” icon on an individual photo, which I’ve found handy for old photos I have scanned in.  Haven’t discovered a way to bulk change dates of photos in an entire albums yet.

5.  How do I see a summary of how many photos I have in total on Google Photos?

I discovered from the Google Photos Forum that you can go to the Google Dashboard here:

Still can’t seem to find a way to see an overview within Google Photos itself of how many photos there are in each album, or in total.

6.  Are photos private?

One of the reasons I first balked at using Google Photos and the automatic uploader a couple of years ago was because then, I was confused about the privacy settings and preferred to just keep photos on my hard drive.  However as storing things “in the cloud” is becoming more normal for myself and many others, I’m relaxing a bit with this.  The default setting for Google Photos when you upload is that they are all private – unless you choose specifically to share them.  Like most things on the internet though, I don’t trust this 100% but feel comfortable enough with it to use it.  I’d recommend that anyone using Google Photos though does familiarise themselves with the privacy settings and checks these regularly.

I’ll continue to add to this list and your comments below are also most welcome!




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.