How to use Google Photos to back up your photos on all of your devices

  • Google Photos can back up your photos and videos automatically from your phone, tablet, and PC. 
  • Google Photos backups are kept in sync with all your devices, so you can see your images from anywhere.
  • The backup controls are in the Google Photos app — tap the account avatar at the top right, then Photo settings, and then tap “Back up & sync.” 
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Google Photos is available on the mobile app for iPhone and Android, and in web browsers. One of the best reasons to use the app is for the unlimited, mostly free cloud-based photo backup and storage it provides.

Once set up, the Google Photos app will automatically save photos and videos to the cloud and sync them across all your devices, so you always have access to your images. 

What to know about Google Photos backup

Google Photos can automatically back up your photos and videos as long as they meet Google’s image size requirements. Each photo must be smaller than 200MB and 150 megapixels, while videos can be no larger than 10GB. On the other hand, images smaller than 256×256 pixels are ignored to avoid backing up thumbnails and icon images. Some newer cameras are getting close to these image limits. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can capture 108-megapixel images, for example.

Google Photos backs up most common image formats, including JPG, HEIC (used by the iPhone), PNG, WEBP, GIF, and most common RAW file formats. Likewise, Google Photos supports most common and many uncommon video formats, including MPG, MOD, MMW, TOD, WMV, ASF, AVI, DIVX, MOV, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, MP4, M2T, M2TS, MTS, and MKV files.

Google Photos backs up photos at either “high quality” or “original quality.” 

  • The high-quality setting slightly compresses your photos and videos to save space, reducing their quality. The advantage of high-quality backup is that it’s completely free — your photos and videos do not count against your total Google Account storage space.  
  • The original quality setting does not change your photos and videos in any way — they’re stored in the resolution and image quality in which they were originally captured. These images count against your Google Account store, though. 

If you use the original quality setting, you might need to subscribe to Google One. Google offers several storage plans for Google One, including 100GB for $1.99 per month, 200GB for $2.99 per month or 2TB for $9.99 per month. 

After June 1, 2021, new high-quality images count toward your Google Account storage the same as original quality. You might need to add a Google One subscription at that time to continue using Google Photos backup.

How to back up and sync Google Photos on iPhone, iPad, or Android

  1. Start the Google Photos app and sign into your Google account, if you haven’t already. 
  2. Tap your account avatar at the top right of the screen.
  3. Tap “Photo settings.”
    After tapping your avatar in the top-right, select “Photos settings.”Dave Johnson/Insider
  4. On the Settings page, tap “Back up & sync.”
  5. Turn on “Back up & sync” by swiping the button to the right. 
    Turn on “Back up & sync” at the top of the page.Dave Johnson/Insider
  6. On iOS, you might need to allow Google Photos access to your photos. If so, start the Settings app and tap “Privacy,” then “Photos.” Find “Google Photos” and set it to “All Photos.”

How to back up and sync Google Photos on your computer

Whether you have a PC or Mac, you can enable Google Photos backup in the same way:

  1. On your computer, download and install the Google Photos Backup & Sync app.
  2. Start the Backup & Sync app and then sign into your Google Account. 
  3. Select “Back up photos and videos” and click “Next.”
  4. Change the folders to back up if needed, or accept the defaults. Choose whether to back up high quality or original quality, and then click “Start.”
    The Backup & Sync desktop app can back up your PC or Mac’s photos and videos as well.Dave Johnson/Insider

How to change Google Photos backup settings on your phone

There are a few ways to customize your Google Photos backup on your phone. The app looks slightly different on Android and iOS, but the steps to control the settings are almost exactly the same.

  1. Start the Google Photos app and then tap your account avatar at the top right of the screen. 
  2. Tap “Photos settings.”
  3. On the Settings page, tap “Back up & sync.” You can tweak all the backup settings from the Back up & sync page. 

You can make these changes to your backup settings:

  • Change backup accounts. You can change the Google Account which is being used to back up your photos. If you are signed into more than one Google account on this device, tap the account name and choose the account you want to back up to from the list of accounts.
  • Purchase a Google One storage subscription. If you are running out of storage space for your Original quality photos, you can add 100GB of storage to your account. Tap “Buy 100GB for $1.99/month” and follow the directions to complete the transaction.
  • Change your upload size. Tap “Upload size” to switch between high quality and original quality uploads. 
  • Change when Google Photos will back up your photos. If you want to allow Google Photos to use your cellular connection to backup photos and videos, make that selection at the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, by default, the app will only use Wi-Fi to back up your photos and videos. 

How to check if photos are backed up on your phone

To find out if Google Photos has backed up your photos or if there is an issue (such as no Wi-Fi) keeping your photos from being backed up, do this:

  1. Start the Google Photos app.
  2. Tap your account avatar at the top right of the screen. 
  3. You should see the backup status in the middle of the screen. 
    Google Photos lets you know if all your images are backed up.Dave Johnson/Insider

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