Google Photos and Apple revisit every

Addendum: 

In hopefully a final note on the way that Apple Photos and Google Photos work together (or not as the text below describes); I’ve now worked out what I hope is the best (and final) strategy of how I should use the two of them together.

Apple Photos on the mobile device is the master, thus this is where you look to reduce your storage load. I’ve just deleted hundreds of photos from all my iCloud Photos (on all devices that sync. to iCloud) by a massive 8.6Gb per device. You delete on one device it deletes on all devices, and iCloud as well – but you do get 30days grace to change your mind. 

The Google Photos app looks at the Photos and Albums you’ve uploaded to the your Google storage and peeks at what’s on your Camera Roll on your mobile device (see below).

Therefore I think the best strategy to use both together is to create Albums on Google Photos, and upload photos to them – so that you can share them, and prune Apple Photos as required. That will have NO IMPACT on any albums you’ve created in Google Photos.

You might think that you could create Albums in Apple and share them, but if you delete any photos to reduce space on your device, you will also remove them from the Album – as far as I can tell. That may not be what you want!!!

[Updated: 13th August 2023]


This post is a sequel to the article (see link below) that I wrote in November, and reflects a little more of what I’ve learnt about the crazy world of how Apple Photos and Google Photos interact (or work) with each other. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

This one starts from an observation I made this morning that some recent photos I’d taken with my iPhone and which were in my Photos Library also seemed to have been added to Google Photos on my iPhone (but not my iPad) as well. From the outset let me assure you that this is the normal behaviour. You have to set Google Photos to see all the photos in your local Photos Library {Settings > Google Photos > Allow Google Photos to Access – All Photos} otherwise it can’t work. What you are seeing in Google Photos is the app getting a view of what’s in your Camera Roll on the iPhone/iPad – you haven’t added anything at this stage to the Google Photos app, and more importantly, nothing has been uploaded to Google Photos at photos.google.com.

What I did see however additionally in Google Photos were some edits of recent photos that I’d done in Lightroom which I’d exported to my desktop, and then uploaded to photos.google.com. They could be identified by the little cloud icon on the picture.

It got me to thinking; what is the best way of sending photos from the iPhone/iPad to Google Photos – if I don’t want to sync everything using Google Backup (which as I explained in the previous post, I most certainly don’t want to do as they’ve already been backed up to iCloud). Am I doing it the best way?

Method 1

As above. Share (export) the photo from the iPhone/iPad to a chosen folder in the Files app or Google Drive, and then upload from that folder to Google Photos from photos.google.com (see also Method 3).

Upload from iPhone/iPad Camera Roll to a variety of services

Method 2

This is by far the easiest, and simplest way (and believe it or not I didn’t know you could do this). Open the Google Photos app on the iPhone, select a photo and then select the Upload (cloud) icon …

… the photo will be backed up to Google Photos (and photos.google.com); you will also note (see above) that once you’ve done that the Upload (cloud) icon is removed from the screen. In the Google Photos app, the photo will now have a cloud icon. Simple, eh!

Method 3

You can do the process in reverse. Go to photos.google.com and select Upload. You will be offered a variety of options …

An upload to photos.google.com from the Safari browser on my iPad

Choose (in this case) Tablet – as I was using my iPad to get the screenshots and you will get this dialogue …

Choose Google Drive and you will get this dialogue …

Choosing an image you’ve uploaded to Google Drive

Choose Copy from other services and you will get these options …

From which you can see (something else that I’ve learnt), that you can copy from iCloud – where all my iPhone photos are backed-up – to Google Photos. Duh!!!

What a wonderful (and complicated) world Google Photos is, and think – this was just prompted by me seeing photos in the Google Photos app I knew I hadn’t “uploaded” to Google Photos. Rest assured, they’re just views into the Apple Photos Library, not copies!!!

PS This isn’t an April Fool!!