When it comes to photo and video backup, Google Photos reigns supreme. Unlimited uploads combined with cool features like Google Lens integration make it an absolute must-have on any Android or iOS device.
If you’ve used google photos for a while, you should have seen the free space notification popup within the app from time to time. it’s supposed to help you free up space (obviously), but how exactly does it do it?
Reading: Google photos free up space
Are your photos and videos safe? can you even access them afterwards? It is true that this is very worrying. Before we go ahead and hit the free up space button, let’s find out the answers to these important questions.
what happens when using free space in google photos
Whenever you use the free up space option in google photos, all photos and videos that are already backed up in the cloud will be deleted from local storage. in other words, google photos will delete the originals.
the free space option provides a brief summary of the number of photos and videos that will be deleted. on android, you can also see the expected space saving. after touching the option, confirm that you want to continue. then google photos should delete all originals from device automatically. don’t worry because the backup of those copies rests in the cloud.
Whenever Google Photos makes new uploads of new photos and videos you take, the option to free up space will reappear. if you don’t see it at the top of the screen, you can always access it through the google photos menu.
how do I see my photos?
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After using the free up space option, you can still access your photos and videos through google photos. the app will display a placeholder list (in thumbnail form) of all deleted items. when you tap one, google photos will cache the backup from google servers and display the photo or video.
but since the photos and videos are not present locally, you cannot use any native gallery app on android or photos app on ios to view them.
after freeing up space, you can still access your photos and videos through google photos
However, if you have a patchy connection, viewing your photo library in Google Photos may seem slower than usual. and if you lose internet access, you won’t be able to see them at all. that’s one of the main disadvantages of using the free space option.
can i get my photos back?
google photos allows you to download any deleted item quite easily. Simply tap a photo or video placeholder thumbnail in Google Photos, and keep tapping the three-dot icon at the top of the screen. finally, tap save to device.
That works great if you want to quickly access certain items without having to be at the mercy of an internet connection.
what if I use the high quality setting?
the high quality unlimited upload setting for backing up your photos and videos has a serious limitation. google compresses uploaded copies to a certain extent (maximum 16mp for photos and 1080p for videos).
Because using the free space option deletes local copies (or full quality originals), you can only view or download the compressed copies of google photos. that’s something to keep in mind if you want to keep the originals.
if you used the original settings to upload your photos and videos, then this shouldn’t concern you.
can I delete selected photos
You can individually delete photos and videos from local storage while keeping backups intact. that’s great for cases where you just want to delete unimportant items from local storage. is a better method than choosing the free space option to delete all originals en masse.
To do so, select the photo or video, tap the three-dot icon at the top of the screen, and then tap delete from device. You can enter selection mode with a long press on any thumbnail within the home screen on Android and iPhone. that way you can select and delete multiple items from local storage simultaneously.
should I “free up space” in no?
Store photos and videos locally, unless your devices are low on storage space. that way it’s convenient to access them at any time and also have your original copies intact if you use the high quality setting.
If you plan to continue, it’s always a good idea to take an additional backup to a different PC, Mac, or cloud storage service. otherwise using that free space option will only result in you having a single copy. that’s not good practice from a backup perspective.
next: ever wondered who can see your google photos? see our detailed guide to privacy.