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Google to ‘simplify’ sync between Photos and Drive in July

Last month, we uncovered hints in the Google Drive app that the cloud storage service’s dedicated “Google Photos” folder would no longer be synced with your Google Photos. Today, Google is making the change official and explaining why the sync between Drive and Photos needed to simplified.

As it stands now, Google Drive and Google Photos are tightly connected via a folder in Drive. Generally speaking, this was meant for uploading, managing, and organizing pictures from Google Photos, while also acting as an accessible file backup of your photos.

However, one look at the support page explaining “How Google Photos works with Google Drive” is all one should need to understand that the relationship between the two services was convoluted to say the least. In that article, we find a list of (seemingly arbitrary) rules that decide whether changing a file in Google Drive does or does not change the corresponding picture in Google Photos.

If you delete a photo from Google Drive, it’ll also get deleted from Google Photos.

But if you add that photo to an album in Google Photos, it won’t be deleted from those albums.

To simplify things, Google is disabling the sync between Google Photos and Google Drive’s “Google Photos” folder starting in July. The “Google Photos” folder will still be in your Drive, but changes to it will not affect your Google Photos library.

The primary reason for this change is that Google found many users accidentally deleting a photo from either Drive or Photos and finding their mistake synced to the other.

Our goal with these changes is to simplify some features that caused confusion for our users, based on feedback and our own research. We’ll continue to look for more ways to help support Drive and Photos users going forward.

Replacing one half of the Drive integration, the Google Photos web app is gaining a new “Upload from Drive” feature. This allows you to upload any image file accessible to you via Google Drive (including shared files) to Google Photos. Unfortunately, Google has not shared any plans for Google Photos to be able to back up to Drive.

Another part of the complication is Google’s “Backup and Sync” app on Windows and Mac which is designed to upload your files and photos to both Google Photos and Google Drive. This app will continue to work, allowing you to upload your files to both services. Google also helpfully notes that photos uploaded (in “original quality”) to both Photos and Drive will only count against your storage quota once.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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