Cloud storage has changed the way we take care of our data. In the past, you needed to backup and transfer files between devices directly, or else you wouldn’t have them in multiple locations. If you took photos on your iPhone or Android, for example, you’d often want to plug it into your computer to make sure those photos were both backed up and easily accessible for sharing with friends, family, and the internet at large.
The problem is, we’ve changed the way we deal with data these days. If you plug your smartphone into your computer expecting to transfer all the photos and videos you see in your photos app of choice, you might be surprised to find that only a fraction of the images actually make their way to your PC. It’s confusing, considering that media is accessible on the phone: Why can it just be a seamless transfer?
Google Photos makes it confusing to know which images are stored on-device
That’s exactly what happened with Reddit user Spax123, who took to the Google Pixel subreddit with the issue. This user was trying to transfer their late wife’s media library from Google Photos on her Pixel to their PC, but only the photos and videos from roughly the last six months would end up on their computer. There was about four and a half years worth of images that were seemingly trapped on her phone, and wouldn’t even appear when he took at a look at her Google Drive account.
This story has a happy ending, though. Redditor degggendorf correctly guessed the rest of the photos and videos in the library were saved to the cloud: Only a recent snapshot of photos were actually saved on the Pixel itself, while the rest were being shown as previews from the cloud. Google doesn’t make it clear that’s what happening here, which easily leads to confusion: If you see all your photos in one place, you naturally assume they’re, well, all in the same place.
How to download Google Photos images from the cloud
The solution? Simply log into Google Photos’ web app. Here, you can access your entire Google Photos library and choose to download any and all of the images here to another location, such as your computer.
If you were only interested in a handful of specific images to transfer, it’s easy to download them on-device. You can choose the image in question, tap the three dots More button, then choose Download. This will pull the image from the cloud and onto your phone, which will then allow it to transfer when you connect your phone to your computer.
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