Google Photos–Is it Really Unlimited and Free?

Google Photos will store your entire library, many thousands of photos, for free!
Google Photos will store your entire 
library, many thousands of photos, for free!

YES!! If you choose the photo size called High Quality and not Original, Google Photos will store your entire photo library of many thousands of photos, for free. Learn more from the Google Photos Help page.

What is High Quality?

At the High Quality size, Google maintains your photos’ pixels up to 16 MegaPixels. That’s 4,000 X 4,000. That’s more than most digital cameras offer today. It’s big. So it sounds like it only reduces your photo if it’s more than 16 megapixels right? Well, not exactly. It does take your photo and compresses the file size while maintaining the same number of pixels. Your 12 megapixel photo will still be 12 megapixels, but where the .jpg file for the original photo may have been 3 MB (megabytes), the file that is uploaded is compressed to about half that.
If you take pictures for personal use, just select High Quality and don’t even think about it. It is truly high quality. That’s is big enough to completely fill your computer screen and be very sharp. I have printed 8X10 glossies of a picture using the original .jpg file and using the compressed ‘High Quality” file and I could not tell the difference.
If you are a professional photographer who may want your picture to grace the cover of a magazine, that’s another story. I’m sure you want your original. So keep the original somewhere, but you may still want to use Google Photos at the High Quality setting. The smaller files give you a faster experience when viewing, searching, uploading, downloading,and sharing than the full size.

image

If I have Unlimited storage, why does it say I have 13 Gigabytes remaining?

Google gives everyone 15 Gigabytes of storage for free. This storage is shared by all your Google services; Gmail, Google Drive, Contacts, Photos, etc. So, Gmail and Drive may be taking up 2 Gigabytes, for example, bringing your quota down to 13. Photos uploaded using Google Photos at High Quality do not count. So, if you uploaded even 20 Gigabytes of photos, you would still have 13 GB of your quota left.
If you upload photos using Google Drive, they will count against your quota. It’s only when you upload using the Google Photos Backup and Sync, with setting at High Quality, that they don’t count.

What about Pictures I already uploaded at Original Size?

Google now gives you a way to retroactively set past uploads to the High Quality and thus recover the storage space used up on your quota. Using a computer, go to Photos.Google.com, click on the 3 line menu and then Settings. You’ll see an option to Recover Storage. Click that and any already uploaded pictures will be compressed.
image

Does Uploading Pictures with Picasa use the High Quality Setting?

No. Picasa still uses an old standard size called “Best for Sharing.” This is defined as 2048 pixels on the longest side. To put it in the same terms, let’s say a picture is 2048X2048 – that would be just over 4 MegaPixels – or 1/4 the size of the new “High Quality.”
Here’s what you do: Use Picasa to upload photos at the Original Size option. This will count against your storage quota from Google, but you can later use the option to Recover Storage and retroactively compress those files.

About geeksontour

Chris is a teacher. Although she comes as close to an expert as possible in many areas of computer usage, she can still remember what it's like not to know these things! That means she can communicate with students in a way that teaches and doesn't demean. She really enjoys teaching one-on-one and for groups of people, but she reaches a worldwide audience with her tutorial videos on the GeeksOnTour.com website. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband, Jim. As Geeks on Tour, they present computer seminars at RV rallies, computer clubs, and Senior Centers all over the US.
This entry was posted in Understanding Google Photos. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

w

Connecting to %s