PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article shows you how.

google photos

High Quality vs Original Quality Uploads

Google Photos has traditionally offered two storage options: "Original Quality," for which photos count against your storage quota, and "High Quality," which is the free and unlimited option, although it shrinks images bigger than 16 megapixels and videos over 1080p.

Whichever option you rely on, from next month both of these options will count against your Google cloud storage allocation. That could present a problem if you rely on the 15GB of free storage that comes with every Google account, or even if you already pay Google for extra storage.

What Does That Mean for My Existing Uploads?

It's important to note that any "High Quality" images already uploaded before June 1 will be exempt from this change and won't count against your storage quota, but anything uploaded after that date will eat up your allowance, so unless you plan on upping your Google storage with a paid plan, it may be time to export your photos and store them elsewhere. If you're already invested in Apple's ecosystem, iCloud is the obvious choice.

Google One storage costs $2/month for 100GB, $3/month for 200GB, and $10/month for 2TB, with discounted annual payment options also available. As for Apple's iCloud, storage options are $1/month for 50GB, $3/month for 200GB, and $10/month for 2TB. Apple One bundles also include storage allowances alongside other digital services like Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+.

How to Export Your Google Photos

By using the Share option in the Google Photos app, you can export individual images from Google Photos, but if you're looking for a bulk-export option, the following steps walk through the process.

  1. Using a desktop browser, navigate to takeout.google.com and sign in using your Google account credentials.
  2. Under "Create a New Export," in the section titled "Select Data to include," click Deselect all.
    google

  3. Scroll down to Google Photos and check the relevant box, then scroll to the bottom and click the Next step button.
    google

  4. Choose your export file type, frequency, and destination, then click the Create export button.
    google

Once the request has been made, you'll see an "Export progress" message. The time it takes for your export to finish depends on the size of your media library, but Google will send an email to let you know when it's ready. Alternately, leave the page open and you'll see a Download button when the export is ready.

photos
Once you've received your exported images, you can drag them into the Photos app on your Mac. To ensure the changes are synced to your Apple devices, check that iCloud Photos is turned on: You can find the switch in he iCloud tab in Photos' preferences (click Photos -> Preferences in the menu bar). Note that you can also upload photos via a browser by going to the iCloud Photos section on the icloud.com website.

Top Rated Comments

gimmesomemo Avatar
6 weeks ago
The thought of asking iCloud to upload a good 20,000 files fills me with dread
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KanosWRX Avatar
6 weeks ago
Not sure why people would switch to iCloud, Google Photos is still better. iCloud is what $120 a year for 2 TB, Google Storage is $100 TB. Google Photos has far superior tagging and searching capabilities which are critical for finding photos these days since we take so many. I mean those two reasons alone would make me want to keep my photos on Google Photos. Nothing is free, storage costs money, mobile apps cost money. I have no issues with Google Photos costing money as it is the best photo storage service still. My one complaint is the massive hole between their 2TB tier and the 10TB tier.. why not a 5TB tier in the middle?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
01Shambrook Avatar
6 weeks ago
I went through this process last month, and I'm sorry to say that this article hardly even skims the surface about how painful this process actually is. Here's why:

* If you have a lot of photos, Google Takeout will export them as 2GB zip files, which you have to download one by one. I had around 130 to download, which took ages. Also, your Google Takeout export only remains available for around 2 weeks before it's deleted, so you're against the clock to do the below.
* When downloading these files, you better have a MacBook that has enough storage. I have a MBP with 256GB which I ended up completely resetting so that I could have enough space to download the files.
* The killer bit of all this: when you upload the photos through Apple's Photos app, Photos essentially makes a copy of them in its Library file. This very quickly takes up any leftover space on the MacBook, at which point Photos refuses to upload them to iCloud, citing lack of storage space. I ended up having to follow some steps to create a separate partition of my hard drive with a limited amount of space, and move my Photos Library file into there. That way, Apple Photos would pick up sooner that the drive was full, and delete uploaded files from the local drive.
* If you're transitioning from an Android phone, there's extra, pretty awful news; iCloud distinguishes the date of your photos by a certain EXIF date ("DateTimeOriginal"), but Android does it by the photo's "File Created" date. This has the side effect of meaning that the Photos app thinks all of your photos were taken on the same day (i.e. the day you downloaded them), because it couldn't find a date stamp. This meant I had to buy a separate Mac app, which would go through my photos and copy the Date Created field to the relevant EXIF fields.

So just to be clear:
[LIST=1]
* Download a couple of zip files from Google Photos
* Unzip them and run them through a tool that will change the date stamps as above
* Import to Photos app, wait for them to upload
* Delete zip and unzipped files.
* Repeat 1-4

Hopefully you can see now, this is not an easy process, and took me at least a week. It's really frustrating when you consider that there's a tool for moving your iCloud photos to Google Photos ('https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208514') in the cloud, but not the reverse.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
velocityg4 Avatar
6 weeks ago
I guess the value of AI training people were providing (most without realizing it). Plus the value of data mining is no longer cost efficient for Google. Given how much larger files are with high res pictures, live photos, HDR and 4k 60FPS video shot by phones.

So, if I pay for storage. Does that mean Google no longer gets free data mining or AI training from me?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
827538 Avatar
6 weeks ago
I've completely removed myself from all Google products at this point. If they aren't going to kill/kneecap a service or product they are going to harvest every last shred of data from you.

Switched to Duckduckgo and love having uncensored results once again.

I've basically totally entrenched myself in Apple's ecosystem and see no reason to move, privacy, support, best hardware/software around. Not saying there's not areas Apple can't improve but they pretty much have the best of the best.
iPhone, AirPods, M1 MacBook Pro, Apple Watch all integrated together - show me an alternative to that? This is coming from an engineer who's historically been a Windows/Linux guy.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
6 weeks ago
Two things:

1) On the free tier, Google recompresses your original photos before upload. If you have access to the original full quality photos, you probably want to import THAT into iCloud Photo Library instead of what's on Google.


2) Google used to keep all your photos synced in Google Drive, which would then sync to your local computers, providing you with a continuously updated local copy of your photo library. They stopped doing this at some point, and now the only way to get a full local copy of your photo library is to use Google Takeout. However, all photos synced up to that point will be in Google Drive. It's important to NOT assume that is your entire photo library; it will be missing photos taken after they stopped doing that.

Frankly, Google Photos has become a less viable solution over the years. The lack of a continuously synced local copy of your photos, along with the lack of a great local native app to manage your library on a computer (like Photos.app on the Mac) pretty much destroyed it for me.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

macbook air orange

Apple Developing a Whole New Kind of MacBook Air

Monday June 21, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Apple is believed to be working on a completely new, high-end version of the MacBook Air, according to recent reports. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, has repeatedly discussed the company's work on a high-end MacBook Air. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and leaker Jon Prosser have also referred to a similar MacBook Air model. The high-end...
AppleEventLogoFeature

Reliable Leaker Known as 'Kang' Hit With Warning From Apple

Thursday June 24, 2021 5:45 am PDT by
The highly reliable Apple leaker known as "Kang" and a number of other unspecified leakers have reportedly received warnings from lawyers representing Apple. According to posts on Kang's Weibo account, Apple recently commissioned a law firm to send admonitory letters to a number of leakers. The letter purportedly cautioned leakers that they must not disclose information about unreleased...
iPhone 12 v Android 2020

Apple Executive Says Users Who Want App Sideloading Already Have That Option With Other Platforms

Wednesday June 23, 2021 5:07 am PDT by
Apple earlier today published a detailed report outlining in blatant terms the negative impact that sideloading would have on the iPhone and iPad, specifically calling out the impacts it would have on user privacy and security. Now, the company is continuing its PR push, with an executive noting in an interview that users who wish to sideload apps already have that option thanks to other...
Dark Sky App Featured

Apple Updates Dark Sky Weather App With Apple Watch Improvements and More

Tuesday June 22, 2021 11:58 am PDT by
Apple today updated the Dark Sky weather app for the first time since November with improved VoiceOver support and other bug fixes and performance improvements. In addition, Dark Sky complications on the Apple Watch now update more frequently. The full release notes for Dark Sky version 6.8.6:• Improved VoiceOver support • Complications on Apple Watch update more frequently •...
airpods 3 5

New AirPods Expected Later This Year as Suppliers Begin Component Shipments

Wednesday June 23, 2021 11:06 am PDT by
At least seven Apple suppliers have reportedly kicked off circuit board-related shipments for upcoming Apple products, and this notably includes third-generation AirPods, which are expected to be released later this year. "Suppliers including Semco, LG Innotek, Kinsus, Unimicron, Nan Ya, Zhen Ding and AT&S have all kicked off their BT substrate shipments for Apple's next-generation products...
under display touch id

Kuo: 2022 iPhones May Feature Under-Screen Touch ID

Wednesday June 23, 2021 9:16 am PDT by
Apple may include an under the screen Touch ID sensor for some models of the 2022 iPhones, according to credible Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In an investor note today obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says that Apple plans to have four models in the 2022 iPhone lineup. Kuo had previously stated that the iPhone 13, destined for this year, will be the last iPhone lineup to feature a 5.4-inch...
iphone 13 lineup dummy models

iPhone 13 Dummy Models Depict Repositioned Camera Modules

Wednesday June 23, 2021 4:12 am PDT by
New alleged dummy models of the upcoming iPhone 13, shared by leaker Sonny Dickson on Twitter, depict a modified camera layout on the standard iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, with two lenses in a diagonal arrangement rather than the vertical arrangement seen on the iPhone 12 models. The dummy models generally line up with iPhone 13 schematics previously seen by MacRumors, which showed that the ...
airtag in hand

Apple Releases Revised AirTag Firmware Update

Wednesday June 23, 2021 10:16 am PDT by
Apple today released a new version of the 1.0.276 firmware designed for AirTags, which is a revision to the update that was made available in June. The new AirTags 1.0.276 firmware has a build number of 1A287b, while the old firmware had a build number of 1A276d. The 1.0.276 firmware that came out in June added anti-stalking security enhancements, and this new version likely just refines...
Apple Watch 7 Unreleased Feature

Apple Watch Series 7 May Feature Smaller Double-Sided S7 Chip

Wednesday June 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple Watch Series 7 could feature a smaller "S7" chip, potentially providing more space for a larger battery or other components. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report accessed by MacRumors, next-generation Apple Watch models will adopt double-sided System in Package (SiP) packaging from Taiwanese supplier ASE Technology. On its website, ASE Technology confirms that its...
series6leds

iOS 15 Hints at Rumored Apple Watch Series 7 Feature

Wednesday June 23, 2021 3:17 am PDT by
A new feature in Apple's upcoming iOS 15 update appears to lay the groundwork for a rumored Apple Watch Series 7 health monitoring feature. iOS 15, Apple's recently-announced major software update for the iPhone, features a number of additions to the Health app, such as the ability to share health data with other people, trends, new metrics for walking steadiness, and more. One of the...