Google Photos is adding a new tool to weed out blurry pictures, forgotten screenshots, and oversized videos, as the cloud photo service prepares to axe its free unlimited uploads option. Having cemented itself in the digital lives of many with its promise of limitless cloud storage, as of June 1, 2021, that all changes.
No longer will users get free Google Photos storage as long as they’re willing to entrust their images and videos to the company’s “High Quality” compression. Google announced the change back in November 2020, admitting that charging for storage was a necessity to ensure that the service was self-sustaining – and thus less likely for Google to axe.
While that might be a good reason, unsurprisingly the announcement didn’t go down well with users. Although some had already been paying for storage – so that they could maintain the original image and video quality they uploaded at – many were left with the decision of potentially paying for extra capacity or downloading all of their content to migrate to another service. With the deadline for new uploads counting against account storage limits fast approaching, Google is now offering a tool it promised back when it made the original announcement.
Basically, it’s an automated way to filter back through your uploads and pick out the images and video you might not want to keep. That could be blurry photos, screenshots you maybe uploaded by default but didn’t intend to keep, or videos that are long and take up more space than you realize.
Depending on how many of those there are, you may find going through the list a time-consuming task. Even after that, you may still find you’re short on space.
Free Google accounts get 15 GB of storage, and anything uploaded after June 1 to Google Photos will count against that. Google has added a personal estimate tool, which suggests how long your storage might last given current usage patterns. Beyond that, you’re gong to need to look to paying for storage.
Google One plans start at $1.99 per month (or $19.99/year) for 100GB, $2.99 per month (or $29.99/year) for 200GB, or $9.99 per month (or $99.99/year) for 2TB. Data on Google’s paid storage plans can also be shared with other family members, which might make stomaching the cost a little easier if everyone is a Google Photos user.
Existing “High Quality” files already uploaded to Google Photos before June 1 will not count against your quota. Meanwhile, Google is changing the name of that tier to “Storage Saver,” to reflect its new purpose as a way to minimize the hit on your account storage allowance.