Google releases desktop uploader for its new Photos service

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 3, 2015
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google

Google's new Photos application and service has seen favorable reviews across the board. It is offering unlimited photo and video storage on Google servers provided that photos are not larger than 16 megapixels and videos not larger than 1080p.

Users of the service have options to configure Photos to compress images and videos uploaded to the service automatically that are too large so that they don't count against the storage limit.

The new Photos application for mobile devices is convenient if most photos happen to be on mobiles, but what if that is not the case?

If most of your photos are on your desktop PC or Mac for instance, or on storage devices connected on a computer network, then you cannot use the application effectively for moving those photos to Google Photos to back them up or make them available online.

One option that you could make use of then was to use the web interface instead to upload those photos. The main issue with it is however that it is not well suited for uploading photos in bulk.

The desktop uploader that Google has created resolves the issue. You find it listed on the apps page on the official Google Photos website.

google photos backup

Once downloaded and installed (on Windows), you are asked to enter your Google account credentials in the application to continue. The sign-in process supports 2-step verification and if you have configured it, you will be asked to enter a verification code on first run.

You may then be asked to pick a Google identity if you have multiple associated with the account. Those seem to be linked to Google Plus, as the list that was presented to me included my main identity but also all Google+ pages that I created in the past.

Once that is out of the way, you are asked to configure the backup behavior.

choose backup sources

The Google Photos Backup program selects three source folders automatically:

  • Cameras & Storage Cards (whenever you connect a camera or storage card)
  • Desktop
  • My Pictures

You may uncheck those and add custom folders that you want uploaded to the program. There you may also select the desired quality which is set to high to make use of unlimited storage, and whether you want to help Google by allowing anonymous statistics to be sent.

Photo uploads are automatic from that moment on. The settings display several additional options that the initial configuration dialog did not. There you may for instance disable the upload of RAW files, or select to copy photos and videos from external media as well.

Please note that the program needs to run in the background, and will do so as it will run on system start automatically.

If you don't want that, you need to block it from doing so, for instance by using msconfig.exe or Autoruns.

If you just want to move photos in a one-time operation to Google Photos, you may also remove the desktop uploader again from your system once the operation completes.


Google Photos Backup complements the new Photos service nicely. It is extremely useful for users of the service who store most of their photos on desktop systems or other storage solutions that are connected to those devices.

It has been designed to monitor the system permanently, but can be used to upload photos once as well by removing the program from the system after the operation completes.


Google releases desktop uploader for its new Photos service
Article Name
Google releases desktop uploader for its new Photos service
Google released a desktop uploader for its Photos service that allows Windows and Mac users to upload images from computers to the service.

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  1. Raja Rani Warad said on June 23, 2022 at 4:23 am


  2. Tony LEE said on June 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

    The inability to control what bandwidth is used to do all the uploading forced me to uninstall it. With windows 10 updates you can specify wifi only AND further specify it is not to use one or more specific wifi services either, but while many programs respect that, it seems that Google does not so uploading all my photos would blow several months of paid bandwidth in one hit if I just gave it the go-ahead.

  3. Gus said on May 22, 2016 at 6:01 am

    “Backed up” on my desktop and counted against my storage but not showing neither on “today” or in my google photo app

  4. Lynne said on April 1, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Have just had to uninstall it because it was taking up ALL our bandwidth, making it impossible to use the Internet – or even the wifi connection to the printer – for anything else.

  5. Edvard said on February 16, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Does anyone know if it preserves the directory structures (if it can create albums for your directories)? Thanks!

  6. Susie Gould said on January 2, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Well I’m not at all impressed. This application just hangs on my 6 month old HP laptop. Uninstalled until less buggy!

  7. PicBackMan said on November 23, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Recently announced ‘Free up Space’ App is a breeze. The app will automatically delete all the previously backed up images to free up space on your device, only if you are ok with it. What we would also expect from Google is a feature or an app to identify and remove duplicate photos to reduce even more space.

  8. Schiefy said on August 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    My difficulty is the quota issue many seem to be experiencing…I am currently showing 23gb being used by Google Photos against my Drive quota…the only thing I can determine from the numerous forums on Google itself (from other users…not Google) is that photos imported from the older services to Photos are either still uncompressed and/or being logged as items to be counted against the quota (obviously, in my case, I had to purchase additional storage to get past the normal “free” storage of 15gb so I could continue using Drive for my documents and email!).

    Google has developed many great products/services (even when the change seems painful–that is, we just don’t like change) but poor implementation is inexcusable and hurts an otherwise great experience!!

  9. Gurmeet said on June 18, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    its a good news for desktop users. I’m waiting for this update from past few months

  10. Peter said on June 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    My issue with it is that it just uploads all your photos without any thought to how they where originally organised by folder and sub-folder on your PC. This means your then with the task of organising all your photos again once uploaded. A pain if ever there was one to do if you have a few thousand photos uploaded (in my case around 4 thousand). Can’t be bothered with doing that so while I’ll leave my files up on it, for online viewing I’ll stick to using OneDrive.

  11. ilev said on June 4, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Not portable ? no thank you.

  12. Dwight Stegall said on June 4, 2015 at 12:08 am

    You should read the terms of service. Some image upload sites change your metadata to claim you photos as their own. Yahoo and Instagram have both been caught at that. Yahoo did it in 1998 or so when they bought Threats of boycotting got them to drop it.

  13. Sukhen said on June 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I have always remained a fan of Google but the problem is that they don’t maintain consistency, there is nothing permanent (even semi permanent) in them. In the name of enhancement, they are doing more damage to their repute than offering convenience. Google Calendar is an application, I always depended on for SMS+EmaIl notification. Now, they are taking off SMS. It really sucks! Don’t they understand the problem of SmartPhones where privacy and safety can be rather easily compromised? I am interested in this new venture (photo app) of them but, certainly Google is not for serious and important works no more. So, naturally, I’ll now on treat Google products like toy and toss them off the way they do with Google users.

    Am I missing something?

  14. Maelish said on June 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I’m confused. The pics I take with my older Canon 60D are 18mp. They don’t qualify or does this app have to reduce them to the 16mp limit?

    I’m also confused how this app is any better than Google’s Picasa – it also uploads photos to google and has a slew of other features. It seems like they are reinventing the wheel.

    In the first paragraph you say “…provided that photos don’t cross the 16 megapixel and videos the 1080p resolution.” Perhaps you should say `aren’t larger than 16 megapixel` or something like that.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 3, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Maelish, if your camera creates 18 megapixel images, they are automatically compressed when you upload them provided that you have selected the “high quality” option which gets you the free storage. If you select Original instead, then they are not compressed but count against your storage.

      1. Wybo said on June 3, 2015 at 4:09 pm

        My suspicion is that Google wants to get rid of Picasa. They rarely update it.

        It is the only Google program/service I use. Mainly because I haven’t found a good alternative, which is almost the same as Picasa.

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