32 tips and tricks for Google Photos

Google Photos is a great way to store your personal photos and make them available across different devices -- and with the holiday season upon us, the potential for generating lots of photos is at an especially high level. But the service is far more than just a virtual cloud locker.

Photos has oodles of options, features and possibilities for viewing, manipulating and managing your digital memories. And many of them aren't immediately obvious. Take a few minutes to scan through these tips and make sure you're making the most of your Google Photos experience.

(Note: Unless otherwise specified, all tips should work on any device/platform where Photos is available.)

Getting around

1. Move through Photos faster with keyboard shortcuts: From the desktop website, press Shift-? to get a list of available commands.

2. Find the Photos view that works best for you: In the mobile app, try pinching in or out on the main gallery to make the thumbnails smaller or larger. You can choose from four different views.

3. Aside from changing your view, pinching can help you move throughout the Photos mobile app. Once you've found your way to the closest possible view, pinching "out" (by moving your fingers apart) on any individual image will open that image in full. And pinching "in" (moving your fingers together) on any image (while viewing it in full) will always take you back to your main image list.

4. Not a fan of pinching? The Photos mobile app also has a hidden swipe-based shortcut: While viewing any image in full, simply swipe up or down on the screen to jump back to your main image list. Who needs that blasted Back button, anyway?

When you're scrolling through Photos on your phone and want to jump to a specific date, use the quick-scroll icon on the right side of the screen.

5. When you're scrolling through Photos on your phone and want to jump to a specific date, touch the quick-scroll icon on the right side of the screen. Then just move your finger up or down to fly back in time faster than a flux capacitor would allow.

6. The next time you need to select a bunch of consecutive photos from your phone, don't do the one-tap-at-a-time dance. Instead, touch your finger to the first photo until it becomes highlighted, and then -- without lifting -- drag your finger up or down to quickly select a whole set of images.

7. Flawless as I know you are, you may one day discover you deleted a photo by accident. Take note now: Photos has a "Trash" folder that's accessible via the app's main menu. Every axed image stays there for 60 days and can be recovered with a couple quick taps or clicks.

Searching and discovering

8. One of Photos' greatest strengths is its image-sorting intelligence. You can use the search bar at the top of the app to find photos based on all sorts of terms -- month, season, location or even objects or general themes.

Some interesting search term ideas to get you started:

  • flowers
  • baby
  • wedding
  • concert
  • dancing
  • winter
  • Paris
  • Halloween
  • birthday
  • beach
  • water
  • food
  • baking
  • dogs
  • selfies
  • blue (or any other color -- try it!)

Note that if you've never used Photos before, it may take a little while for newly added images to start appearing in searches.

9. Prefer browsing over freeform searching? You can go to the Albums tab (accessed on the left side of the desktop website or the bottom of the mobile app) and then look at the carousel at the top to scroll through common terms specific to your collection.

10. Google Photos can also help you find images based on who appears in them -- even if it doesn't know every person's name. Go to the Albums tab and select "People" to see a list of faces from your collection. If you want to be able to search for someone by name, just tap her face, select "Who is this?" and put in whatever name or nickname you prefer. That name will then appear whenever you start typing the first few letters into the app's search bar.

If you see someone's face showing up in two different places within the "People" section, it's not difficult to correct the error.

11. In theory, Photos recognizes how a person ages over time and groups all the photos in which he appears together -- but in reality, it doesn't always get it right. If you see someone's face showing up in two different places within the "People" section, first use the naming process described above to make sure the person is properly labeled. Then tap the second place where the person appears, select "Who is this?" and select his name from the list to correct the error.

12. You can also manually remove images from a person's grouping by clicking or tapping the menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and then selecting the option labeled "Remove results." Select the out-of-place photos, then select the blue "Remove" button that appears in the upper-right corner.

13. If you're hunting for something specific in your collection, try using multiple search terms together -- "dog and park," for instance, or "Mom and Dad." You could even find photos of your daughter in pink by searching for her name (provided you've labeled her, as described in tip 10) and the word "pink."

14. Feeling lazy? You can search your Google Photos by emoji (yes, really!). Try


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