How to Download Your Photos Library From Google Photos Cloud

Google Photos is a popular cloud storage service for photos and videos. It offers free unlimited storage for photos and videos uploaded in “high quality” (compressed) before June 1, 2021. However, there are several reasons you may want to download your entire Google Photos library:

Why Download Your Google Photos Library

Here are some common reasons to download your full Google Photos collection:

  • Reach storage limit: Google Photos offers free unlimited compressed storage for photos/videos uploaded before June 1, 2021. All new uploads count against your free 15GB Google storage. Downloading your library lets you free up space.
  • Back up your memories: While Google Photos is generally reliable, having a separate backup of your irreplaceable photos and videos provides peace of mind.
  • Switch services: You may prefer to use a different photo storage service and want to transfer your library. Downloading is the first step.
  • Store locally: You may want to archive your photos on an external hard drive or local network storage for easy access.
  • Regain control: Downloading gives you full control over your photos instead of relying on a cloud service.

Use Google Takeout to Download Photos

Google Takeout is the easiest way to export your entire Google Photos library. Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to and sign into your Google Account
  2. Deselect all services by clicking “Deselect all”
  3. Scroll down and select “Google Photos”
  4. Click “All photo albums included” to export everything or choose albums (optional)
  5. Scroll down and click “Next step”
  6. Select delivery method (download, add to Drive, etc) and file type/size
  7. Click “Create export” and wait for Google to prepare your archive

Google will notify you via email when your export is ready to download. Exports with many photos may take hours or days to process.

Tip: Use the maximum 50GB file size for downloads to avoid needing to merge split archives later.

Download Options for Google Photos

In addition to Google Takeout, you have a few other options to download photos from Google Photos:

  • Web app: You can manually select and download photos one by one or in batches (up to 500). Useful for grabbing a few pics but time consuming.
  • Mobile app: The Google Photos app also allows you to select and download photos/videos to your device’s storage. Limited to device storage unlike full Takeout export.
  • Google Drive desktop app: Provides an option to export photos from Google Photos to Drive for easy downloading. Does not include edited photos.

While the web and mobile options work for limited downloads, Google Takeout is still the best choice for exporting your entire Google Photos library in one shot.

Prepare for Your Full Google Photos Download

Before you export all of your Google Photos content, it’s important to make some preparations:

Have Sufficient External Storage Space

A full download of a large Google Photos library can easily be tens or hundreds of gigabytes. Ensure you have enough free storage space on an external hard drive, NAS device, or cloud storage.

Perform a Test Run First

Try exporting a small album first using Google Takeout before attempting your entire library. Verify the process works as expected before spending days downloading all your photos.

Download Over a Fast, Reliable Connection

The export and download can take hours or longer. Use a fast, stable internet connection to avoid failures and having to restart. Ethernet or 5Ghz Wi-Fi is best.

Back Up Your Existing Library First

While unlikely, it’s possible something could go wrong during the Takeout process that causes data loss. So back up your original Google Photos collection first!

Alternative Storage Options

If you don’t want to store your photos locally after downloading them from Google Photos, consider these alternative online storage options:

iCloud Photos

For iPhone users, iCloud Photos seamlessly stores your photo library in the cloud. It includes 5GB free storage and paid plans from $0.99/month for 50GB. Supports accessing your library from iOS/Android devices and the web.

Amazon Photos

Amazon Prime members get free unlimited full-resolution photo storage plus 5GB video storage. Non-Prime plans available too starting at $1.99/month. Accessible on desktop and mobile.


Flickr offers 1TB free storage for photos and videos. It has apps for iOS, Android, desktop access, and useful photo community features. Paid subscription plans remove ads and unlock more benefits.


Dropbox is popular for general cloud file storage and syncing. The basic free plan includes 2GB storage, paid options for more space start at $9.99/month for 2TB. Convenient apps and access across devices.

Best Practices When Downloading Photos

Follow these tips when downloading your Google Photos library for a smooth, successful transfer:

  • Double check all photos exported correctly in file size and quality before deleting them from Google Photos cloud storage.
  • Store your downloaded original photos on an external drive and backup drive to prevent data loss. Cloud backup also recommended.
  • Add captions, locations, etc to photos before downloading, as that metadata does not download.
  • After exporting, re-upload any new photos on your devices to your new cloud or local photo storage solution.
  • Set calendar reminders to occasionally re-download from Google Photos to catch any stragglers.
  • Review your photos regularly on the new storage platform and confirm everything still looks as expected.


Downloading your entire Google Photos collection allows you to regain control of your precious photo memories for enhanced privacy, security and ownership. Follow the best practices outlined to ensure you safely transfer your photos without any data loss.

While Google Photos offers convenient cloud access, having local or redundant copies of irreplaceable photos provides greater protection and options for alternative services. Plus you save money not paying for extra Google cloud storage!