Free Up Space On Your Phone With The Latest Update to Google Photos

For those of you who use Google Photos, there are some big updates coming your way both in the Android app and on the services website.  In a post on his Google+, Google’s John Elstone posted about the changes which are going to be released this week, likely today or tomorrow.  The first two updates have to do with the Android based Google Photos app and focus on being able to delete backed up photos from your devices and SD cards to save space.  The third update is on the Google Photos website that brings a much wanted downgrade feature for photos from “Original Quality” to “High Quality”.

Google Photos for Android – Free – Download Now

For the Android Google Photos app, users will now see a “Free Up Space” button on the settings screen according to the post.  When users tap this button they will be prompted to bulk delete

Google Photos for Android

Google Photos for Android

copies of photos that have already been backed up from their device.  The app will ask you to confirm you are really sure you want to do the delete (just in case) before actually performing it.  The idea behind this feature is that if you already have photos from your phone backed up to Google Photos, there is no real need to keep them on the device itself.  You can easily view and access them (and re-download of course) photos within the app.

In addition, users will start receiving an Assistant card in the app prompting them to bulk delete device copies when they are near their storage limits.  This was something those who backed up in Original quality already received.

Related to this, the updated version of the Google Photos app will have a fix that will allow users with certain SD-card enabled devices to delete photos from their SD card.  This should stop an issue where photos were continuing to show up in Google Photos despite being deleted.  John did not discuss which devices specifically are addressed in this update but if you have a SD card device where you are storing photos, be sure to check for this update to see if it resolves your issue.

Finally, for the Google Photos website, there will be a new downgrade feature that will allow you to move photos you have already uploaded in “Original Quality” down to “High Quality”.  Remember, High Quality doesn’t count against your Google Drive quota and if you are shooting photos less than 16MP in size, you really won’t see any difference in quality.


If a user joined Google Photos and selected the “Original quality’ setting for their photos, but changed their mind, they could have future media backed up in “High quality”. However, for media already backed up in “Original quality” before then, users were in an awkward state: they had no way to downgrade that media to “High quality”.

With this update, users will be able to downgrade previously backed up photos from “Original quality” to “High quality” by visiting from their computer and clicking ‘Recover Storage’.

I personally have very happy to see this new downgrade option as it will free up hundreds of gigabytes of storage I’m consuming on photos that I simply don’t need in original quality.  I have a secondary backup of the original photos anyway and all of mine are sub-16MP anyway.

The updated Google Photos app should be hitting the Google Play Store sometime today or tomorrow while the web update will go into play tomorrow (Wednesday, November 18th).

Google Photos for Android – Free – Download Now

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