Starting June 1, 2021, any new images and videos that you store in Google Photos will count towards your free 15 GB of storage. If you don’t take a lot of pictures, that might not be much of a problem. And if you have a Pixel phone, your photos still don’t count towards your total storage. (Keep in mind, though, that those photos are Google’s “high-quality” compressed images, not the originals.) But if you’re eager to take a large number of photos, make sure to pay for Google One storage.
You could decide to just shrug and get a subscription: Google One is not that expensive, and it is quite comparable to other photo services. But if you decide that you want to move your photos to another service – or if you just want to save them to your computer drive or other local storage – then you need to export them from Google Photos first. Here’s how.
The first thing to note is that you can’t just go to Google Photos and download your files. You must use Google’s export tool.
- Go to Google Takeout. (You can go to the same page while in Google Photos by selecting Settings, scrolling down to ‘Export your data’ and clicking ‘Backup’.)
- You will find a long list of your Google apps; they are all pre-checked. If you want to take this opportunity to easily download all your Google data, leave them checked; otherwise look for the “Deselect All” link at the top of the checkboxes and click on it.
- Scroll down to ‘Google Photos’
- To find out in which formats your data will be exported, click the button that says “Multiple Formats.” Basically, your photos will be exported in the format (PNG, JPG, WEBP) in which they were imported, videos will be exported in MP4 format and your metadata will be exported in JSON text format.
- You can also choose not to export all of your albums. The second button under ‘Google Photos’ will likely say ‘All photo albums included’. If you only want to export some of your albums, click on them and uncheck any albums you don’t want to export
- Scroll down and click on “Next step”
- You can now choose from a wide variety of options: whether you want your data to be emailed to you as an attachment or to Drive, OneNote, Dropbox or Box; how often you want your data to be exported (once or every two months for a year); the type of file being downloaded (a compressed ZIP or TGZ file); and how big you want the exported files to be. For example, if your exported file is larger than 2 GB, you can have it split into more than one file. I have about 39 GB of photos so that resulted in 19 compressed files. You can request files up to 50 GB, but Google states that it will deliver compressed files over 2 GB Zip64 format.
- Click on “Create export”
And that’s it. Google will warn you that it may take hours or even days for your data to be available; I have thousands of photos and it only took a little over half an hour for the link to my export to appear in my email. Of course, depending on your internet connection, it can take much longer for all of them to be downloaded.
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