Here is the official announcement from Google: Starting July 10, 2019, Google Photos and Google Drive will no longer automatically sync your photos and videos. Learn more here, or read Google’s blog post.
Google had good reason for doing this. When photos did sync between the 2 services, it appeared that you had a copy of your photos, but that was not true. Under the hood, there only existed one copy of your photos, they were just viewable from 2 places. Not understanding that, people would delete photos from one side or the other and be dismayed (to put it mildly) when they found their photos were gone. That will not happen now. Any photos or videos that had synced between the two services before the breakup will still be seen in both, but they will now be independent. Deleting one will not delete the other.
Google Drive and Google Photos are now completely separate apps
To keep your photo and video memories, use Google Photos.
To keep documents, spreadsheets, slides, and special-purpose photos/videos – use Google Drive.
Five things you can do:
- Copy photos/videos from Drive to Photos – manually – use Photos->Upload->from drive
- Copy photos/videos from Photos to Drive – manually – use mobile device->Share->to Drive
- Copy and sync photos/videos from phone to Google Photos in the cloud – this basic function of the Google Photos app has not changed.
- Upload and sync photos/videos from computer to Google Photos and/or Google Drive – this basic function of Google Backup and Sync for Windows or Mac has not changed.
- Download photos from Photos or Drive to Computer – manually – select photos (or album), click 3-dot menu and Download all
One thing you can’t
One thing you can’t do anymore, at least not with Google products, is to automatically sync your phone’s photos/videos to your computer’s hard drive. This can be easily accomplished however with OneDrive or Dropbox.
What about the storage space used by photos?
2021 update: As of June 1, 2021 all photos/videos uploaded to Google Photos do count against your Google storage allotment. If you choose “Storage Saver” quality, they will take up less space than original size, but there is no more unlimited free storage as discussed below.
Google gives you 15 GB of free storage to be used by Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. When you use the “High Quality” size setting to upload to Google Photos those photos do not count against your storage allotment, meaning you get unlimited free storage. Here are the things to know now:
- Photos uploaded manually to Google Drive will count
- Photos uploaded to Google Photos in Original quality will count
- Will photos uploaded to Google Photos FROM Google Drive count?
That depends on the size setting on your web version of Google Photos. From photos.google.com click the 3-line menu, settings. If Original is selected they count, if High Quality is selected they don’t
- Will photos that were originally uploaded to either side in Original quality, then synced to the other side now count twice?
No. If you have original size photos in both Drive and Photos because they synced prior to the change they only count once. If you delete one, the remaining copy will still count.
- If you upload photos, in original quality, from your computer to both Drive and Photos using Google Backup and Sync, they will not count twice. You will have a copy in Drive and Photos, but they only count once. If you delete one, the remaining copy will still count.
- If you upload photos to Google Drive, using Google Backup and Sync, you can select High Quality and they will not count.
More resources for Geeks on Tour Members only
Ask a question by adding a topic on our Ask the Geeks page. Here are some tutorial videos about Google Photos.
- 577.WX-Photos and OneDrive on Windows 10
- 574.GP-Download from Google Photos to Computer
- 500.GP-Install Backup and Sync for Windows
- 477.GP-How to edit a photo’s date
- 476.GP-Manual upload from smartphone
- 475.GP-How to upload photos from an external hard drive
- 474.GP-Manual Upload from Mac Photos
- Google Photos – Getting Started with Mobile Devices
- eBook: Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos