Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bad News about Picasa ... but we were warned

How do you upload photos from your computer to Google Photos? 
If you're still using Picasa to do this, you're in for a rude awakening next time you try to click that green button - or any option for "Upload." 

If you don't use any upload or sync options with Picasa, then you have nothing to worry about. The Picasa software on your computer still works for managing your folders of photos on your computer, for editing them, and for making collages. You'll just need to use other methods to upload them to your Google Photos account online.

We were warned

The official announcement is in the Google blog here
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, it's been predicted ever since Google retired the Picasa program. The problem is that we've been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that the upload from Picasa has continued to work as long as it has. Just last week, I used Picasa to upload pictures from my computer to Google Photos, now "all of a sudden" it doesn't work. 

If you want to know how to upload photos to Google Photos from your computer, that was the subject of Episode 138 of What does this button do?



Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Google Photos: Everything you need to know

I wrote a book about Google Photos. It's titled Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos. The subtitle is "Your lifetime of photos, effortless and free." I keep thinking, if Google Photos is so effortless, why do I need a 100+ page book to teach how to use it?
I've come up with these 14 points as all you really need to know. The links to videos are for GeeksOnTour.com premium members. Please leave a comment if you think I left something out, or got something wrong. If you take a lot of photos and wish that they were all together and safe so you never had to worry about them - Google Photos is truly the best option.
Member Tutorial Videos:
497.GP-Install on iOS
496.GP-Install on Android
490.GP-Backup Complete
500.GP-Install Backup and Sync for Windows
476.GP-Manual upload from smartphone
475.GP-How to upload photos from an external hard drive
474.GP-Manual Upload from Mac Photos

  1. You need a Google account to use Google Photos. Make sure you know your username and password.
  2. To use Google Photos on a mobile device, download the free app from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (android)
  3. Once the app is installed, open it and accept the default settings: 1. Your google account 2. High Quality file size 3. Only upload when on Wi-Fi
  4. You will immediately see the photos on your device. If your device is connected to Wi-Fi, it will start uploading (copying) all those photos to your account in the cloud.
  5. Your photos are not “in Google Photos” until the backup is complete. You must open the app to view the progress and watch for the message “Backup Complete”
  6. Once you see “Backup Complete” you can remove photos from your device and still see the Google Photos copy. But, DO NOT use the trash can for this, that erases the photo from everywhere – device AND cloud.
  7. Android note: your device may have photos in “Device Folders” other than the camera. They will not be included in Google Photos until you: menu, device folders, select the folder and turn on Back up & Sync.
  8. iOS note: if iCloud Photo Library setting is on, leave it on until Google Photos backup is complete. Do not delete photos or FREE UP Space using Google Photos while iCloud Photo Library is on because it will also delete them from iCloud.
  9. Optional: I recommend a second cloud backup service like One Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon before removing photos from your device. That’s a true backup.
  10. To remove all photos from your device and leave them in Google Photos – use the 3-line menu and FREE UP SPACE (iOS: Do not delete photos or FREE UP Space using Google Photos while iCloud Photo Library is on because it will also delete them from iCloud.)
  11. To use Google Photos on a computer there is no software to install, just go to the website, Photos.Google.com and sign in with your Google account.
  12. To upload pictures from your computer to Google Photos manually, you have 2 choices: 1. Drag and drop from computer folders to Google Photos website 2. From Google Photos website, use the Upload button.
  13. To upload pictures from your computer to Google Photos automatically, install the Backup and Sync app and set preferences to specify what photos you want uploaded and how you want them synced.
  14. All photos uploaded to Google Photos, from whatever device, will be included in the “Library.” The photo library is one giant stream of photos in order by date taken. There are NO folders.

The 14 points above are everything you need to know to successfully store your lifetime of photos for free, forever. Once they’re there, there is so much you can do with them!


  • Explore: Google automatically groups your photos by People, Places, and Things. It is so much fun to explore and find photos you’ve forgotten. You can also use Search, and find photos without the need to tag them first.
  • Edit: Google Photos has built in editing tools that can, so easily, make your pictures look better. It also works together with the Snapseed app for hundreds more, professional, editing tools.
  • Creations: it’s easy to make your own Albums, Collages, Animations, Movies, and even printed Books.
  • Sharing: your library of photos is private, for your eyes only, but Google Photos makes it easy to share the ones you want.
Here is one of our "What does this button do?" live YouTube shows: What's New with Google Photos

Please leave a comment if you use Google Photos and learned something in this article.

Continue your Education with Geeks on Tour by subscribing to our Newsletters!
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983 and owned a Computer Training Center called Computer Savvy from 1983-1996. She was one of the first WordPerfect Certified trainers in 1986; President of the International Computer Training Association in 1993; Author of the Beginner’s Guide to Picasa and the PicasaGeeks.com website. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, author of Mrs. Geeks Guide to Google Photos, and owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com blog. She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Moving from Picasa to Google Photos

imageAs Geeks on Tour – we do a weekly webcast called “What Does This Button Do?” Episode 132 recorded on 12/17/17, was about Google Photos for Picasa users. You can watch this hour-long episode on YouTube.

If you’re still using Picasa as your only tool for managing your photos, it’s time to get serious about moving to Google Photos in the cloud. Picasa still works, on both Windows and Mac computers, it works today, it will work tomorrow, but you never know when there may be an update that will render it useless. If you buy a new computer, you’re going to have trouble finding the Picasa installation file because it is no longer officially available. We do have a copy of it that is available for our Geeks on Tour members, and you can probably find it elsewhere by searching for “Picasa Installation File.”

The future is in the cloud

The world of technology is all moving to the cloud. Picasa is a computer-based program, Google Photos is cloud-based. Picasa is old, Google Photos is new.  If you take your pictures with a smartphone, the Google Photos app is fully automatic for uploading your photos to your Google account online and making them available to all your devices, including your computers.
But, what about all those old pictures that are still on your computer? Or the ones that you stored on external hard drives or even CDs/DVDs? If you upload them all up to your Google account in the cloud, you will then have your entire lifetime of photos available any time you look at your Google photos. I can tell you, it is thrilling when I can show someone photos of my childhood in Alaska by opening the Google Photos app on my phone and searching for Alaska. Or my wedding photos from 20 years ago, by easily scrolling back to that date. Be careful though, you may lose some friends if you do this every time you see them! But even your most photo-averse friends will appreciate it when you can instantly pull up that picture of them receiving an award 10 years ago.

Moving photos from Picasa to Google Photos

You don’t need Picasa to move your photos to the cloud – all the photos you see in Picasa are actually on your hard drive and Episode 132, mentioned above showed 2 ways of moving them from your hard drive to your Google Photos account.
  • The “Pull” method of uploading your photos: with this method you need to select actual pictures, not folders full of pictures
  • The “Push” method of uploading your photos: with this method you can select a folder and all the photos in that folder as well as any sub-folders will be uploaded. It will not maintain the folder structure, no albums will be created for the folders. It just gathers all the photos from within the folders and uploads them to your Google Photos library.
If you do have Picasa, and you like the way you have your pictures in folders, you can use Picasa’s Upload command to both upload AND create corresponding albums in Google Photos.
  1. View your folders using Picasa, make sure you have logged in to the appropriate Google account. You will see it in the upper right corner.
  2. Select a folder (or an album) and click the Upload button. Notice that my folder name is “January” – this is not good. I might end up with lots of “January” albums and there is no such thing as nesting in Google Photos. I highly recommend renaming such folders to 2005 January, or 2005-01 or something that uniquely identifies it, before uploading to Google Photos.
    picasa-upload
  3. Upload Options: notice when you upload with Picasa, it is set to automatically create a new Google Photos album with the same name as the folder being uploaded. In this example I learned not to name it just August, but 200608. When this is complete, all the photos in that folder in Picasa will be in your Google Photos library, AND you will have an album named 200608 with all the photos showing there.
    picasa-upload2
  4. Repeat for every folder (or album) you want uploaded to Google Photos.
    OR
    Use the Tools->Batch Upload command to simply check off all the folders or albums you want uploaded.

Using Picasa’s Batch Upload feature, you can upload many folders and albums at once

Using Backup and Sync

image

Backup and Sync is software for your computer that will do all the uploading for you. The problems with it are:

  1. It uploads photos from your computer to Google Photos, but does not create albums in Google photos. The photos are just added to your library.
  2. The default setting is to upload ALL the photos on your computer’s Desktop, Documents and Pictures. My bet is that there are lots of photos in your Documents folder, on your Desktop, and that do not belong in your Google Photos library.
  3. After it uploads the photos, it actively synchronizes any edits or deletions. You can turn off the option to synchronize deletions, but no such option exists for edits. For example, there have been reports that once your photos are resized to “High Quality” in the online version, that resizing is synchronizing back to the computer, converting the computer originals to the compressed size. The originals are gone. This is a bug that doesn’t affect everyone  and will be fixed, but why take the risk?
If you want to use Backup and Sync, my recommendation is to carefully select the folders you want it to upload. You can select a parent folder and it will upload all photos in any subfolders. So, for example, you could tell Backup and Sync to upload the My Pictures folder, and it will get all the photos within the My Pictures folder structure. Don’t accept the defaults that are to upload all the photos on your entire computer. Then, when the upload is complete, I recommend discontinuing the use of Backup and Sync. From now on, use the “Push” or “Pull” manual techniques above to add miscellaneous sets of photos from your computer to Google Photos. This way, you’re confident that whatever is on your computer is independent, safe, not being synced.
If you are a Google Drive user, that’s a whole different aspect of Backup and Sync. You can set it to synchronize your entire Google Photos library back down to your computer. That will be another lesson!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Taking a trip? Don’t leave home without Google Photos on your phone.

20070414_port-everglades-18“I’m going on a 3 week cruise starting tomorrow and I’m afraid my phone will run out of space for taking photos.”

Don’t let that happen to you! And, don’t delete photos off your phone without making sure they’re backed up first!

We got together with our friends, Chris and Charles, the evening before they were to board a cruise ship for 3 weeks. I looked at Chris’ phone and saw that she only had a few hundred megabytes of free space on her phone. At that rate, she wouldn’t last one day of taking pictures before getting the dreaded, “Device Full” error message would appear. I looked in Settings and found that over 8 Gigabytes were in use storing nearly 4,000 pictures and videos. She needed to get serious about deleting them!

“I have them backed up on my computer, so it’s OK to delete them from the phone,” she said, “but, I don’t want to delete them all because I like looking at them on the phone. It’s just too much work to decide which to delete and which to keep, so I don’t do it.”

I told her if she used Google Photos, she can delete the photos from the phone, but still see them all using the Google Photos app after the pictures were uploaded to her Google account online. With the Google Photos “Free Up Space” command, all the photos can then be removed with one click. “Let’s do it!” she said.

How to prepare your phone for a trip:

  1. googlephotosInstall Google Photos app on your phone, get it from the App store on iOS or the Play store on Android. It’s free.
    - turn on “Backup and Sync” setting
    - make sure the Google account listed is correct for where you want your photos stored
    - make sure the upload size is High quality (free unlimited storage)
  2. Watch the photos being backed up! Just because you see photos in the Google Photos app does not mean they’re in your Google Photos account, it takes time. The app initially views the photos on your phone. Only when you see “Backup Complete” are you safe to delete them from the device. You may need to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot because it can use a lot of data to do the backup.

  3. Verify that you can see your photos in your account online. Go to Photos.Google.com and log in with the same Google account used for the app on your phone. You should see all your pictures there.
  4. Now you can delete the photos. Don’t use the trashcan, that deletes from everywhere. Use the Google Photos app on your phone, tap the 3-line menu, Free Up Space. You will see a message about how many photos will be deleted and how much space will be freed up. If you are using an iPhone, and you have iCloud Photo Library turned on, realize these photos will be removed from all iCloud devices as well.

It took all night for Chris’ 4,000 pictures to be backed up. When we looked in the morning, the Google Photos app reported 110 photos remaining. It just took another half hour or so for those to complete. Using a computer, I had Chris sign in to her Google Photos account to prove that we could see her photos online that had just been backed up from her phone. Yes! All photos were there, so I had her open the Google Photos app, and tap the Free Up Space option. Seconds later, she had over 8 GB of free space, plenty for a few thousand pictures.

Bon Voyage Chris and Charles! I can already see from your Facebook photos that you’re having a good time!

Geeks on Tour premium members may also want to view these videos:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Black and White Photos with Google Photos

“Tag, you’re IT!” That’s what it’s like in today’s world on Facebook. Its called a “Challenge” and the latest one is about Black and White photography.
Seven days, seven black and white photos of your life. No people, no pets, no explanations.
I usually ignore challenges, I’m a party pooper, I don’t want to play. But, I liked this, I wanted to play. Here are my 7 pictures:
bw1
#1 Dolphin carving, black and white with vignette
#2 WWII Museum in New Orleans - just black and white with a little Pop

bw3
#2 Lighthouse: Vogue filter with a little Pop!
bw4
#3 Jackalope
bw5
#4 Roadtrek
bw6
#5 Union Station Kansas City
bw7
#7 Bridge over Missouri river in Kansas City. Also added some "Drama" using Snapseed

I Cheated

I did not use Black and White film! I didn’t set my digital camera to take black and white photos. I didn’t even use my phone’s capability to take photos in black and white  mode. I took color pictures. A few of these, like the lighthouse,  are even old color pictures I chose, then I used very simple editing tools to create the B&W images.
Here’s the lighthouse photo that I took back in September 2016, it’s in my Google Photos library.
lighthouse
To turn this into a Black and White photo, all I had to do was click to open it, then click the Edit tool: image Now I see a number of “filters”, including 3 different black and white filters: Eiffel, Vogue, and Vista. Just try clicking on each one and see what it does. I like the Vogue the best, but then I also add a little Pop to sharpen the lines a bit.
image
The filter does the trick, but there’s another way I think I like even better. You can click on the Adjustments button: image Yes, I know, it looks just like the Edit button above. Don’t ask me why, I liked the old pencil for the edit button personally! Anyway, once you’re in the adjustments, you’ll see a slider for color. If you drag that all the way to the left, you’ll remove all the color … that makes it black and white! Then, you can also add a little “Pop!” If you add more pop, you’ll get some of the color back, but in a special, muted way. Watch this quick video and I'll show you exactly how to do it.


Partial Black and White

If you watch the video, you'll see how Jim made this image of  our musician friends, Victor and Penny, performing at Cafe Paradiso in Fairfield, Iowa. Notice how the photo is not completely black and white, but it's not really color either.

Want to give it a try?

Don’t wait for a challenge, just do it. You can post them on Facebook, or you can even leave a link here in the comments where we can see your black and white masterpieces. To get a link:
  1. Select the pictures you want to share
  2. Click the share button: 56shareX2
  3. Get Link, Copy
  4. Start a comment here, then paste the link
Leave a comment about which photo above that you like the best.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

How to show your phone's photos on the big screen TV


We had company over for dinner last night and, invariably, there came a time where they started showing us pictures from their last trip. They opened the photos on their phone, then we would pass the phone around. 
Wait a minute! 
We can do better than that. 
Let's have a real slideshow using the big screen TV. We have a TV with several HDMI ports. In HDMI 2 we have plugged in a Chromecast device. The phone in question is an iPhone. The Chromecast device works just fine with either iPhone or Android. You can purchase them for about $35 at Amazon, or any electronics store like Best Buy. 
Here's what you do:

  1. Set the TV source to HDMI2 (whatever port has the Chromecast device plugged in)
  2. Connect the phone to the same WiFi hotspot that the TV/Chromecast is connected to. Our household hotspot is "Geeks Hotspot" When we first installed the Chromecast, we followed the instructions to connect it to that hotspot.
    I told our friends to go to the WiFi settings on their iPhone and connect to Geeks Hostpot. I gave them the password.
  3. Open Google Photos and open the first photos you want to show, then tap the chromecast button in the upper right. 
  4. You should now be seeing that photo on the TV. On an iPhone, you will need to swipe left to see the next photo. On Android, you can tap the 3-dot menu and choose Play Slideshow to have the photos progress automatically.
To learn lots more about displaying your pictures and other things on your TV, see episode 108 of What Does this Button Do.


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Google Photos and the New iOS 11 HEIC Photo Format

If you upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 11, you now have a new photo file format called HEIC and a new video file format called HEVC. The HE stands for High Efficiency and it is a new official format developed by the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG.) These are the same folks who developed the standard .jpg format so many years ago. This is not, therefore, an Apple thing, but Apple is the first major player to adopt it. The main purpose of the new format is to store the same photo using less file space, but it can also store multiple photos in one file, and multiple layers. I took the 2 pictures below with the same iPhone, the only difference is I changed the setting from the new format, back to the old in between taking the 2 shots. The new format takes up 3.1MB and the old takes 5.1. They both have the same number of pixels - 12.2 MegaPixels.
 
I can see both file types using Google Photos. The problem is, if I download the .HEIC file to my Windows computer, it can't open it. It just shows up as an outline of a white empty box. And, if I view it in my Android's version of Google Photos, I can see it, but I can't edit it.

Mrs Geek's Advice

If you are using all Apple devices, you're fine. But, if there are any Windows devices in your mix - or if you're sharing some of your Google Photos with others who have non-Apple devices - then you would need to be sure those photos are converted back to the old format.
My advice is to turn back the clock and change your iPhone's setting so that it uses the old format - at least until the other systems catch up.
  • Settings
  • Camera
  • Format
  • Most Compatible

What Else is New in Google Photos?

Episode #125 of What Does This Button Do explores the new features of Google Photos from the past 6 months. If you get there today (9/23/17) at 2pm Central / 3pm Eastern you can watch while we record the live presentation. Subscribe to the GeeksOnTour YouTube channel and click the little bell icon to get notifications any time we're live.



Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Top Contributor for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.