Google photos is a great option for storing and sharing your old family photographs. Oh, and it's free!
Genealogy Tools,  Old Family Photos

Google Photos For Genealogy: It’s A Picture Perfect Guide!

Learn how to use Google Photos for genealogy to store, back up and share old family photographs with family. Best part? It’s FREE.

If you have been a reader of Are You My Cousin? for even a short period of time, you know I am a fan of Google. I routinely use Google Drive for creating timelines, taking notes, writing genealogy reports and ancestral stories. (I like to write!) Google Maps and Google Earth let me put my ancestors on the map – literally!

Google Books? Well, it’s a favorite, too. [Google even interviewed me about it! Check out the video.]

Now, let’s talk about Google Photos for genealogy. 

Google photos for genealogy in white on red background with box of family photos

Google Photos For Genealogy: It’s Picture Perfect!

What exactly is Google Photos?  Google Photos is cloud-based photo storage that syncs across your devices.  It allows you to organize your photographs into albums and allows for easy sharing with others.  First off, you will need a free google account.

I have Google Photos on my smartphone, laptop and ipad.  (I use the Apple Ipad Air and the Samsung Galaxy S10e. ) . My photos are synced across all of my devices allowing me to access my photographs any time regardless of which device I am currently using.

I take most of my photos on my phone and have it set to automatically upload any photos I take to Google Photos when the phone is next connected to wifi. This allows me a quick backup of the photos and allows me to free up needed storage space on my phone. Using this method also saves me time, because it’s automatic, and I do not have to manually transfer the photographs.  

Time saved equals more research time!

One of the best advantages for this frugal genealogy researcher is that Google Photos offers free storage.  (Be still, my frugal heart!) Google Photos does offer free unlimited storage IF you are uploading your photos using the “High Quality” setting.  Check your Google settings for this.

Screenshot of uploading google photos on android smartphone

Your photographs are now in Google Photos, now what?

Organizing Your Photos in Google Photos

You’ve taken your photos and have them syncing with into Google Photos. Let’s get them organized! Google photos allows for the creation of albums. Create albums by family groups, locations, specific research trips….. The list is endless.

Let’s create your first album! Click the “Create” button in the top right-hand corner of your Google Photos homepage.

Google Photos Albums

You will then see a pop-up:

Creating an album in google photos

Click “Album”.  Add a title of your album, and click “+ Select Photos”.

google photos album creation

Highlight the desired photographs:

google photo album creation

Here’s your album:

Example of Google Photo Album

Here’s what the album looks like on my phone. Notice the “share” and “add photo” icons in the top right. You can manage and share photos in Google Photos app, too. It’s so easy to share photos on the go or as I research.  

Google Photos album on android cell phone

I often take digital photographs of documents when I research on-site at a courthouse or archives. I like to create albums based on a set of records for a particular location or surname. When I am ready to start a full analysis, I have everything at my fingertips.

Share Your  Photos

As a genealogy researcher, one of the things I enjoy most is sharing a “new” ancestor’s photograph with other family members and/or collateral researchers.  It’s super easy!

Here’s a snippet from my Google Photos:

Red arrow showing how to share a photo from google photos

Simply highlight the photo you wish to share and click the “share” icon in the top right-hand corner. (Yes, that’s me with my beautiful daughter in the top left.) In the Pop-up you have a couple of options:

Screenshot of how to share a photo from google photos

Simply type in the name of your contact and send. Or use one of the options at the bottom to share via Facebook or Twitter.  I typically use the “create link” option, then share that link through email. It’s really just your personal choice here. 

Edit Your Google Photos

You can also edit photographs in Google Photos. Click on the photograph you want to edit. You will find the “edit” icon in the upper right-hand corner that looks like this:

edit icon in google photos

Click and edit your photograph. You have options for filters, color adjustments and rotation.

google photo of Cecile and Lester Howard

Edits in Google Photos are fairly basic and may be just fine for you needs. I usually want to really improve a photograph’s quality or do serious editing.  I turn to my favorite photo editing tool Vivid-Pix. [Learn more about how to use Vivid-Pix in this post.]

If you have not explored Google Photos yet, I encourage you to do so. You may be surprised at what it has to offer.

Learn More About Old Family Photos!

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  • Karen

    In addition to google photos, I use Google’s Photoscan app for taking pics of documents while researching away from home. gives much better results than my clumsy attempts with regular camera app or even Evernote.

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