How to free up space in Google Photos

All storage across Google’s Android ecosystem is flowing much better in recent years. Google Photos, for example, has a few dedicated tools that do the heavy lifting, deleting securely backed-up images from local storage, freeing up valuable storage space. Here’s how to use them.

Because Google Photos acts as a cloud-first photo library, users have to store photos a lot less locally on their devices. A photo stored on the device simply takes up space, although one could argue that locally stored photos are of better quality. Luckily, Google lets you back up images in their original quality, although this will affect your cloud storage.

Backed up photos take very little time to pull up and view, although you will at least need an internet connection to do so. Combined with the innate ease of sharing images via the cloud, this makes a case for relying on images from cloud storage rather than going the local route.

Of course, we cannot ignore the security concerns of cloud photos, although this risk exists wherever cloud storage is used.

How to use Free up space

Once a photo is successfully backed up, the original local file can be deleted from your device. Over time, that can add up to dozens of GBs of photos and videos, stored in two main places – the cloud and your phone. With a tool called “Free up space” in Google Photos, you can have the app automatically remove any local file that has a securely backed-up copy in the cloud.

  1. In the Google Photos app, go to library Tab.
  2. Beat Utilities above.
  3. Beat Free up disk space.
  4. blow Free up… to delete local copies of photos.
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Free up space Delete photos Google

Once you start the process, Google Photos will take care of the rest. Remember that only photos that have a copy in the cloud will be deleted. Any photo that is only local is safe where it is.

The erasing process can take anywhere from three seconds to ten minutes – it all depends on how much is erased.

Adjust your backup settings

If you find that none of your photos are backed up to the cloud or they are but not in original quality, you may need to go to your backup settings in Google Photos.

  1. In Google Photos, tap yours Profile picture and type photo settings.
  2. blow fuse.
Free up space Delete photos Google

Make sure the switch is on and that you’re properly signed in to the Google account you want to back up your pictures to – especially if you’re paying for additional storage with Google One. Below you will see several options:

  • backup quality
  • Mobile data usage
  • Backup device folder

Here you can set the compression that takes place when backing up photos, as well as whether they are backed up while using mobile data. The last setting allows you to choose which folders are automatically backed up.

If you take a lot of screenshots but don’t necessarily want them to take up cloud storage space, you can disable this folder. The same applies to documents, downloaded images and images received in Google Messages or other messaging apps.

Note: If you delete an image in Google Photos that isn’t backed up to the cloud, that photo has a limited amount of time before it can’t be recovered. Go to Library > Recycle Bin to recover deleted photos.

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Either way, memory is a valuable thing for modern devices. Google’s “Free up space” tool is useful, especially when combined with full control over what’s backed up.

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