Tip: How to Download your entire Google Photos Library

Important I am not affiliated with Google or any of the companies mention and this is my personal experience.  If you find this helpful and want to say thanks, please buy me a coffee or buy my book on Amazon (it’s not about technology!). It helps keeps this page ad-free. Thank you!

On November 11, 2020, Google announced plans to end free unlimited photo storage on Google Photos. The new Google Photos limit will be 15GB which Google claims is equivalent to 15GB.

The Google Photos storage limit will come into effect on June 2021. After which, if you go over 15GB you will need a Google One subscription. I am guessing if you’re reading this you don’t want to pay or want to avoid paying for a Google One subscription to store Google Photos.

What I can tell you, is 15GB is not enough. With most modern smartphones 128GB+ and the camera the most popular feature, you will max out on 15Gb fast. Also, if you have been using Google Photos for a while, I can guarantee you will already be significantly over 15Gb (even if pre-2021 files don’t count to the quota).

So if you want to stop using Google Photos and move them to another service, you need to download them first. This article outlines how to download your entire Google Photos library, at once, so you can upload it to another photo storage service.

How to Download your entire Google Photos Library

  1. First, head over to Google Takeout. This will show a list of all Google services where you can download your data.
  2. Scroll down the list and make sure you only select Google Photos (you may need to hit Deselect All first, then select Google Photos).
  3. There are two options that display “Multiple formats” which you can’t change and “All photo albums included”. The latter lets you download only specific photo albums.
  4. You will then need to select your export frequency, Export Once, should be enough if you’re cutting the strings with Google.
  5. For File Type and Size, I recommend “zip”. For file size, use “2GB”. A word of warning though, depending on how long you have been using Google Photos it could still result in 100s of files. You can always export again as larger file sizes (50Gb is the max) once you know what you’re dealing with. Also, FYI files larger than 2GB are zipped as zip64 (which may be an issue unzipping on older systems).
  6. Click Create Export… and wait.

You should get an email confirming “Archive of Google data was requested” and then a few hours or days later (depending on how many photos you have) links to download the zip files. In my tests, it’s was about 4-6 hours to get the export. The good news, this lets you download all your Google Photos at once without having to download them one-by-one.

If you need to check the status of your Google Photos download, this link should work but you will need to login to your Google account.

Once you download your photos, you can use 7zip to uncompress the archive. I’d also recommend making a backup of your Google Photos download to an external drive until you work out a long term storage option.

I don’t really have any recommendations on where to move if you’re leaving Google Photos. At the moment I’m experimenting with Microsoft One Drive. Amazon Prime includes free storage for Prime subscribers, although I am now nervous about free services since Google changed its policy.

Reminder I am not affiliated with Google or any of the companies mention and this is my personal experience.  If you find this helpful and want to say thanks, please buy me a coffee or buy my book on Amazon (it’s not about technology!). It helps keeps this page ad-free. Thank you!