Given how great phone cameras are these days, it’s no surprise that we all take plenty of snaps. Storing all those pics can be tough though, and no one wants to use their mobile only to keep tons of photos on. And that’s where cloud storage comes in. One of the biggest cloud storage services for photos is called Google Photos, and it’s pretty awesome. But it’s also full of tricks that you might not know about, and that’s what we’re here to tell you about.

Google Photos: The Basics

Before we get into the fancy stuff, let’s just deal with the very basics. Google Photos is a free service, and you can download the app for Android or for iPhone. The service can be set to automatically back up your photos to the cloud, and you can then view them from your mobile (using the Google Photos app) or from the web. You get unlimited free storage, so you can stick as many pictures as you like into your account, all for free. Easy, right? But once you’ve got those basics set up, you might be interested in some more of the cool stuff that Google Photos can do…

  1. Image Search Like a Pro

As the name very clearly implies, this is a Google product, so it shouldn’t really surprise you that searching through your pictures in Google Photos is fantastic. Just hit the search bar and look for whatever you want and the app will filter out the pictures that apply to your search. You can get all your Christmas photos together, or just look for “Spain” to get all your holiday photos, look for cars, pets, food, dinner, family, anything you like. It’s pretty impressive just how well the app can decide which pics apply to which categories…

  1. Search for People Too

You can also image search for people by name, though this requires a bit of set up. Find a person, say your mum, in a photo, open up the pic and then hit the “who is this?” button that appears and set a label. Google Photos will now apply the label “mum” to every face that matches the one in the picture. Sweet. You can do the same thing for groups of people as well, simply choose a group pic that shows everyone in your darts club (or whatever) and follow the same process.

  1. Prevent Photo Duplication

There’s no point uploading all your pics to the cloud only to have copies of them still sitting in your phone’s memory because honestly, who has the time to go through deleting all their old pics? Luckily, Google Photos takes care of this duplication problem for you. If you manually upload photos then once you’re done a message will pop up asking if you want to free up phone storage, in which case, just click yes. If you have automatic back up set up (which is the best way) you can go into Google Photos at any time on your phone, hit the three line menu icon, go to settings, then hit “free up phone storage” and accomplish the same thing.

  1. Select Multiple Photos

Now this is something that we really love about Google Photos. You need to select multiple pics, maybe you’re making an album with all your holiday snaps, for example, but you don’t want to tap each individual pic. Multiple selection with Google Photos is easy. Tap and hold on the first picture you want to select, then (without lifting your finger) just drag your finger along all the other pics you want in the group too. Lift your finger and you’ll find that every photo you touched is now highlighted. Awesome.

  1. Download Everything!

Getting your pics up on the cloud is easy, but what about getting them out again? With most cloud storage services downloading your pics back to your computer or phone is a nightmare, and you need to tap each pic you want to grab. With Google things are much easier. Just go to the “Google Takeout” page in your web browser, click on “Google Photos,” then tap the albums you want to download or simply toggle the switch to download all photos. Done.

  1. Share All the Things!

Want to share those pics or vids with someone else? Not a problem. Choose an album, or select multiple pictures (using that multiple selection trick from tip number 4) and then hit the “share” icon that appears at the top of the page. You can then choose an app to share the photos through (attaching to an email, sending them through WhatsApp, etc.) or simply get a link that you can send so that your mate can look at your pictures online. Just remember to think about your privacy and don’t make the mistake of making all your photos public. As an added tip, those labels and names that you added to help search your pics won’t appear in shared photos, so you don’t need to worry about your mum finding out about your dirty nickname.

  1. Make Stories, Collages, or Animations

You can also use your pictures to make stories, collages or animations. Just go into the app, hit the + icon at the top right and select story, collage or animation. You can then add the relevant pics, captions, locations and all kinds of other things to create a mini film or slideshow of your pics. Cool, right?

  1. Edit Away

Google Photos also has a pretty nice editing feature. Okay, it’s not a full on edit suite, but it should do the job for most people. Open up the app, choose the photo you want to edit, then hit the pencil icon that appears. You’ll find a whole bunch of options there, from filters to cropping, colour changing, even light changing. When you’re done playing with your pic, just hit save and you’re good to go.

  1. Back Up ALL the Pics

Finally, you can set Google Photos to back up every photo that comes from your device, not just the ones you take, including pics from Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, and all the rest. Just go into the app, hit the three line menu icon at the top, go to “device folders” and choose the folders that you want to back up (the names should be obvious, with WhatsApp called WhatsApp and so on). Now you’ll never lose a photo!