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Google Photos App: How to use on iPhone, Mac & iPad

Google Photos

Reading Time: 8 minutes read

If you find yourself struggling with phone storage limits but hate having to delete photos and videos to free up space, don’t worry – Google Photos can help. Backing up your content online allows you to clear space on your device, so avoiding that irritating ‘Storage Almost Full’ notification is easier than you might think.

So whether you use your smartphone for all things photo-related or you prefer to use your Mac or iPad for organizing your favorite snaps, Google Photos is a great tool to use across your devices.

Keep reading to find out what Google Photos is, how to install and use it, plus the difference between Google Photos and iCloud.

What is Google Photos?

Launched in 2015, Google Photos is a cloud-based tool that allows you to store photos and videos from your Android or iOS device. Originally, you could sync content across Google Drive and Google Photos, however, Google recently simplified this process by removing the automatic sync function. This was to prevent the accidental deletion of your photos and videos across products which, according to feedback, was a common user problem.

Now a standalone backup tool, Google Photos allows you to free up space on your phone by storing your content safely and securely online. What’s more, within the tool, you can also view and edit your images, plus create videos, animations, and photobooks.

Why is Google Photos preferred to iCloud?

You may already be using the iCloud Photo Library to backup your images and, while this service is simple to use and effective, Google Photos offers more functionality and flexibility. Let’s take a look at how…


Can you use Google Photos on an iPhone? Yes. Can you use Google Photos on an Android? Yes. The same can’t be said for iCloud Photo Library, however, which is only compatible with Apple devices. This means if you ever leave iOS in favour of Android, Google Photos is your best choice for offering continuity across multiple operating systems.

Storage and price

iCloud Photo Library only offers 5GB of free storage per user, with anything above this coming at an additional cost. The Google Photo storage limit, however, offers free, unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels and videos up to 1080p resolution. What’s more, it will resize your images for you when you sync up. If you need to store larger files too, Google offers 15GB of free space which is 10GB more than iCloud.

Starting June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with every Google Account or the additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member.


Another huge benefit of the Google Photos App is its powerful and impressive use of machine learning. The service automatically analyzes photos to identify and group your images into helpful albums such as Places, People, and Things. This makes finding treasured holiday snaps or photos of your loved ones a quick and easy process, as you can search for things such as “Paris”, “my cat” or “flowers” to return relevant results in an instant.

Cross-platform support

While iCloud helpfully comes pre-installed on all iOS devices, it only offers two additional platforms to access your images – a Windows app and a web app. Google Photos, on the other hand, offers mobile apps for both iOS and Android, a desktop and web app, plus the ability to access your content on Android TV, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Smart TVs.

How to install Google Photos for Mac

1. Open up your web browser and go to www.photos.google.com

Web Browser

2. Click the Menu in the top left-hand corner.

Web Menu

3. Choose App downloads.

4. Click Download.

Backup download

5. When downloaded, open the file to run the installer. Wait a few moments for this to download.

6. When prompted, drag the Google Photos Backup to your Applications short link to install it onto your Mac’s hard drive.

Backup Application

7. Then, find Google Photos inside your Applications folder and double-click to open it.

Find Google photos

8. The first time you run Google Photos, you’ll be reminded that you’re running an application downloaded from the internet, click Open.

9. Accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

10. You’ll then need to sign in to your Google Account to sync your images.

Google Sign in

11. Select the sources you’d like to backup from the menu, for example, Photos Library and Desktop.

Source selection

12. Select the photo size.

13. Click Start Backup.

Start Backup

How to upload photos to Google Drive from your iPhone

1. Go to the App Store and download Google Photos.

Download Google Photos App

2. When you open the app and sign in, allow Google Photos access to your photos, plus choose your notification settings and whether you’d like a cellular backup if there’s no WiFi.

Google Photos - Photo access

3. Decide which image size you’d like to backup. If you chose to resize your images, you gain unlimited storage. If you want to keep them in their original size, you can store up to 15GB free.

Storage Setup

4. Hit Confirm. Your iPhone photos will begin uploading to your Google Photos account, the time it takes will depend on connection speed and the number of files you are uploading.

How to download photos from Google Photos

Once you’ve backed up your images to Google Photos, accessing and downloading them to your computer or phone is simple. Follow our simple guides below to find out how.

How to download Google Photos to your Mac/PC

1. Open your web browser and visit www.photos.google.com.

Desktop - Open Web browser

2. Select the photos you’d like to download to your PC/Mac. You can select multiple images by holding down Shift and selecting the first and last images of the group you’d like to download.

Desktop - Select image for download

3. After selecting your images, click the three dot icon in the top right corner. Click Download.

Desktop - download image

How to restore photos from Google Photos to your phone

1. Open the Google Photos App on your phone and select the photo you want to restore to your phone.

Restore - Open Google photos

2. Tap the three-dot icon in the top right-hand corner and click Save to device.

Restore - Save to device 1
Restore - Save to device 2

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some popular FAQs that may help you:

How do you access Google Photos? 

Accessing Google Photos couldn’t be easier. Simply, log into your Google Account and click Go to Google Photos. Once logged in, all of your photos and videos will be there, fully backed up. If you have any problems you can click here for Google’s how-to guide

How to save Google Photos to iPhone?

Open the Google Photos App, select which photo or video you want to save. Tap more and then download.

Are Google Photos Private? 

The photos and videos you have in Google Photos are private and only visible to you unless you intentionally share them with another user.

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Now you’ve learned how to use Google Photos, transform your favorite photos into photo books, calendars, canvas prints, and much more.