Q. I like having the automatic online backup and storage for my pictures with Google Photos, but I’d also like to edit certain shots and albums with my desktop photo-editing program. How do I grab those photos back from Google?
A. Google added new features to the web version of its Google Photos service this spring to supplement the controls for cropping, color adjustments and filters available through the toolbar’s pencil icon. But if you want to play around with a photo or album in the desktop image editor of your choice, you can easily download copies from the web. Start by logging into your Google Photos page.
If the image you have open on your screen is one you would like to download, click the three-dot More menu in the upper-right corner of the screen. Choose the Download option.
To grab multiple images for downloading from the main Google Photos thumbnail screen, move the cursor to each thumbnail’s upper-left corner until a white checkmark icon appears. Click it to turn the checkmark blue. When you have selected the photos you want, click the More menu icon and choose Download. You should see a compressed archive of pictures in your Downloads folder (or wherever you put your downloaded files).
If you want to get a whole album of photos, select the Albums icon on the left side of the screen and click the album to open it. In the More menu, choose Download All.
The photos should retain their embedded information (also known as EXIF data), details like camera settings and location coordinates, and you should get the images in the largest resolution Google Photos has for them.
Because the service allows you to choose between the original resolution and a compressed “high quality” version when you upload them, the downloaded files may be of a lower resolution than the originals. Once you have the pictures downloaded to your computer, import them into your preferred desktop photo-editing program.
If you have hundreds of albums in Google Photos and want to get them all at once, you can use the Google Takeout service for bulk downloading; be aware that the pictures may lose their EXIF data with this method. Google Takeout, available from the Personal Info & Privacy section of your account settings page, can also be used to download data from all the Google products you use, including Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Maps and more.
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