Help me tell Google Photos who's boss
August 27, 2021 9:07 AM   Subscribe

What is the workflow I need, and/or what settings do I need to enable, to get the relationship I want between photos on my Mac, on my iPhone, and on Chromecast? I have many questions about this - most of which probably just betray that I don’t really understand what ‘syncing’ is.

I mostly take photos these days on my iPhone 12 mini, and manage my library on a Mac (thanks to this question; an M1 Air - love it, by the way). I also need to use Google Photos, however, so that I can display my photos on TV via Chromecast, which I mostly do by shuffling through a specific album on ambient mode using the Google Photos iPhone app. (I am assuming that I need to use the iPhone app in order to get the photos to cast, i.e. that ambient casting won’t automatically work from Google Photos without the app.) Chromecast is basically the only way we ever view our photo collection these days and we love it.

That’s all working okay, but I’ve also got a large back catalogue of non-iPhone photos which I’m importing bit by bit from memory cards and other sources to my Mac. I want to import those photos into the Apple Photos library on the Mac, then take some time to go through and weed out duplicates and disposable shots, doing a bit of light editing and captioning as I go.

Only when I’ve done that weeding and editing do I want to have the photos appear in Google Photos. What’s the most efficient workflow to achieve this? What settings do I need to have selected in each of the programmes/apps?

The problem I’m finding is that the Google Photos iPhone app seems to think it is the boss of my photos, automatically scraping whatever is in the Apple Photos iPhone app, which reflects what’s on the Mac. It hoovers up everything before I have a chance to edit it, even when I have the ‘backup and sync’ option disabled, and if I subsequently delete something from Apple Photos (on Mac or in the app) it stubbornly clings on in the Google Photos app unless I manually delete it there too. I can’t do this manually - it would mean duplicating my weeding effort across thousands of pictures. I’d like to tell Google that Apple should be in charge and it should take its instructions accordingly, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.

I was wondering if I could just uninstall the Google Photos iPhone app while I import and edit my archive of photos, and reinstall it when I’m ready for the Apple Photos library to be scraped? Would that have any risks, like somehow causing some photos to be completely deleted? Will my Google photo library and albums still be there, so I could just keep adding new things to them when I reinstall?

What if I deleted and reinstalled the Google Photos app repeatedly? It’s going to take me months on end to import and edit everything and I want to be able to cast photos in the meantime, so I would do things in batches and reinstall after each batch if that would work.

In an ideal world, given that Google Photos now has a limit on free storage, I’d have an even more limited selection of pictures on Google; that is, Apple Photos would store everything I want to keep, but only the things I want to be able to cast would be on Google. How would I achieve that?

Bonus questions:

When I look at my Google Photos through a browser, it doesn’t show any of the photos I’ve taken since turning off the ‘backup and sync’ option, which I did a few days ago in an attempt to solve the workflow problem - those recent ones do, however, appear in the Google Photos iPhone app. What’s going on there?

What’s best practice in terms of making sure that I don’t burn up iPhone storage with all these old pictures I’m importing? Or is breaking the automatic link between what’s on my Mac and what’s on my iPhone actually key to the whole thing, and if so, how do I do that and how do I deal with incorporating all the new pictures I will continue to take on my iPhone?
posted by FavourableChicken to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Google Photos app on your iPhone should show all the photos on your iPhone and all the photos in your Google photos acocunt. I am wondering if you couldn't simply upload all your old photos to google, and edit/cull using photos.google.com, and then you wouldn't have to worry about the Apple Photos interplay.\

If you're worried about device storage, there should be an option in the Google Photos app to free up device storage, which removes photos from your phone that are already backed up in Google Photos.
posted by notjustthefish at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2021


I was wondering if I could just uninstall the Google Photos iPhone app while I import and edit my archive of photos, and reinstall it when I’m ready for the Apple Photos library to be scraped?

Yes, that's exactly what I would do.

Would that have any risks, like somehow causing some photos to be completely deleted?

No.

Will my Google photo library and albums still be there, so I could just keep adding new things to them when I reinstall?

Yes, they will still be there.

What if I deleted and reinstalled the Google Photos app repeatedly?

You can do that, though the very first time you open it, it might take a long while to figure out what to sync. But you might run into problems with duplicates. Every time you tweak a picture, it might re-upload it as a different version.

I would strongly suggest you sit down and pare down your master photo library before trying to propagate to other services/backups.

I tried syncing my Apple Photos library to Google Photos ~6 months ago when I heard that Google was doing away with their limit on free storage. Live Photos only seemed to sync using the iOS app, but some video files only seemed to sync from the desktop. It took literally weeks because I had ~80,000 photos stored on my Apple Photos library, and I had my phone plugged in 24/7 and the display set to never turn off so the Google Photos app wouldn't crash, but all of my photos and 95% of my video files got moved over.
posted by alidarbac at 10:34 AM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


In an ideal world, given that Google Photos now has a limit on free storage, I’d have an even more limited selection of pictures on Google; that is, Apple Photos would store everything I want to keep, but only the things I want to be able to cast would be on Google. How would I achieve that?

Don't use any of the apps and manually upload pics to Google Photos through your web browser.
posted by alidarbac at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


What alidarbac said, plus this way you get to use your Mac as the connection point between the two huge tech company walled gardens instead of your phone. Having a big monitor, decent physical controls and an exposed filesystem available instead of a nasty little touchscreen full of sandboxes will make a huge difference to how annoying a job this will be.
posted by flabdablet at 12:10 PM on August 27, 2021


Best answer: When you are displaying photos on the TV via chromecast, I believe you are using google home not the photos app on your phone. If you are logged into the chromecast with a Google account, it is going directly from the internet to your chromecast. Your phone is not involved. It is dependent on the settings in Google Home. At least that appears to be how it works for me.
posted by AugustWest at 11:10 PM on August 27, 2021


Response by poster: Y'all were right, it works best managing it through the Mac, and best of all AugustWest you were spot on that I don't need the Google Photos app to cast: this is a complete revelation and has made my headaches go away! Now merrily weeding my back catalogue bit by bit while enjoying casting as I go. Thanks!
posted by FavourableChicken at 11:33 AM on September 12, 2021


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