Entertainment From Home: Back up your photos, create digital picture frames, and more!
One thing many of us have is a bunch of photos on our phone. And something tells me that’s an understatement.
Estimates show that worldwide we took somewhere around 1.2 trillion photos in 2018. Chances are, you have your share of them sitting on your phone, which is great! All those memories, those people, those times, and those travels. But what to do with them? They may just be sitting there, taking up storage space on your phone, instead of becoming something special like an album, greeting cards, a wall hanging, or popping them into a digital picture frame for your kitchen or living room. Let’s take a look at how you can organize your photos, back up your photos, and so that you can create something with them too.
Back up your photos in the cloud
Backing up your photos in the cloud is an important first step for so many reasons. The first is that it ensures that you won’t lose any of your precious snapshots in the event of a device failure or in the really unfortunate event of your phone getting stolen or lost. Additionally, when it comes time to buy a new phone, storing your photos in the cloud means that your new phone can automatically access those photos once you log into your cloud account. Lastly, backing up your photos in the cloud puts them all in one place, where you can access them from other devices—like your computer or your laptop. Once there, you can use free apps like Photos for iOS or Photos for Windows to organize your pictures, create slideshows, videos, and more.
What cloud service should I use for backing up my photos?
That’s an excellent question. There are many available, and the answer most typically depends on which brand of device you own. iPhone owners have iCloud, Apple’s cloud service, available to them as part of their device. Android owners can back up their device (including photos) using Google Drive, and some brands have partnered with cloud providers like Dropbox. Using the service specific to your device is typically a quick route for backing up your photos—for example:
- For Android owners, check out this excellent article from Androidcentral, which they keep updated to reflect the latest features and apps they recommend. They take you through the process step-by-step and give you a number of cloud storage options such as Google Photos, Google Drive and Google One, plus Dropbox.
- For iPhone (and iPad) owners, give this article a click to see how you can transfer your photos using Apple’s iCloud. Likewise, Apple breaks it down into steps and shows how you can transfer photos to your PC or Mac and then make your photos available on all your devices with iCloud Photos.
The other consideration here is to make sure that the devices you use can all access the cloud service you select for your photos. The good news is that many services work across different platforms and brands, as you’ll see in our quick overview below. Thus, you can use iCloud on a PC, just as you can use Google Drive on a PC or Mac. If you’re relatively new to cloud services like these, know that many of them back up much more than just photos. They back up and store documents and other files too. Here are a few options:
iCloud: Provided by Apple, this offers 5GB of free storage, plus you can buy more storage as you need it, such as 50GB for $0.99 a month. iCloud has an app for Macs and PCs as well so that you can access the photos and files you store in it from those devices too.
Google Drive: This cloud storage service comes with every Google account. It offers 15 GB of space, which includes all of data you store in it, such as the email in your Gmail account, documents you create in Google Docs, and so forth. It’s available for Android and iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs.
OneDrive: This is Microsoft’s cloud offering for documents, files, and photos, which has options for both iOS and Android users and works on both PCs and Macs alike. It starts with 5 GB of free cloud storage and 1 TB of storage if you have or sign up for a Microsoft 365 account.
Dropbox: Their free offering includes 2 GB of storage for accessing and sharing photos, documents, and other files from any device. You’ll find options for using it on Android, iOS, Mac, and PC devices.
If you’re looking for a cloud service that’s specific to photos, you have options there as well.
Google Photos: This is a cloud storage service that’s specifically designed for photos and videos. What’s nice is that it offers free unlimited storage for photos that are up to 16 megapixels in size and HD videos. Works on Android and iOS devices, plus Macs and PCs.
Amazon Photos: Among the many perks of an Amazon Prime membership, you get Amazon Photos, which provides unlimited photo storage across desktop computers plus Android and iOS devices. In addition to storing and sharing photos, you can also print photos into several formats, including prints on metal and acrylic, wall décor, and photo books.
Whichever cloud service you choose, you’ll want strong passwords and password protection as part of your overall digital security for any cloud account you keep. Go with a reputable cloud provider. Do your research. Make sure their track record is clean. Use strong passwords—always.
Transfer your photos to your computer to your computer without the cloud
This is another option as well, however, it’s still strongly suggested that you back up your photos in the cloud as well for all of the reasons we outlined about—most significantly, you wouldn’t want to lose them due to device damage or theft!
Back up your photos locally too
This advice may feel a little “old school” because there’s so much emphasis placed on the cloud and its benefits these days. Yet a local backup provides yet another layer of protection in the event of data loss, theft of your device, or even a ransomware attack where your data (which could include your photos) is held hostage. Put simply, it keeps your data in your hands. Also, by copying your photos and files onto an external hard drive you can access them if your internet is down or running a little spotty.
Delete some photos and save some space on your phone
Once you have your photos on your PC or Mac and backed up, now you can get to work. This is the point where you can delete photos from your phone with confidence. Photos take up plenty of storage space on your phone, so an occasional cleanout is a good thing. Depending on the method you used to transfer your photos, the transfer process may ask you whether you’d like to delete some or all of the photos on your phone. Likewise, you may just want to do that on a photo-by-photo basis yourself. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but the benefit is that you’ll free up space on your phone.
Start organizing your photos
Here’s the really fun part: both the Photos app on iOS and the Photos app on Windows come standard on Macs and PCs. You’ll see that they both have tools for creating albums, folders, and for searching. They each have a facial recognition feature as well, which will automatically tag photos based on the people who are in them so you can quickly create albums featuring a specific person or people. Likewise, these apps allow you to search based on keywords, like activities, places, and dates so that you can quickly gather related photos and make albums based upon them. Note that the search isn’t always perfect. Much depends on the metadata associated with your photos, which is information that your phone or camera attaches to your photo—such as when the picture was taken, where it was taken, and so forth.
The Photos app on iOS has an additional feature that to help you organize your photos. Select a picture and then hit the “i” icon at the top of the screen. A window will show you the metadata associated with that picture, which is information about your photo. You can add to this metadata with your own keywords and tags that help describe the picture, like “Mom on the Metro” or “Dad’s Birthday 2015.” This will aid in future searching and organizing as well. Unfortunately Photos on Windows doesn’t have a similar feature at this time, however, you can change metadata of a photo by right-clicking on the photo file in your file explorer and selecting “Properties” and then choosing the “Details” tab.
Another word about metadata: you’ll want to take a look at the metadata of the pictures you post online. Your photos can reveal details about you that you may not want to share or have up in the hands of hackers and crooks. Check out this episode from our Hackacble? Podcast to avoid some of the common risks associated with sharing photos.
Now that you have your photos backed up in the cloud and on your laptop or computer, it’s time to start making things. There are plenty of free, paid, and subscription services out there for making prints, posters, and albums. You can also look into well-reviewed digital picture frames that you can load up with hundreds of rotating photos via a USB connection, an app, or even email.
Another option is to start exploring the world of photo editing. If you don’t own or have a subscription to the popular Photoshop app, there’s an excellent free option for multiple operating systems (which includes Mac and PC). The long-form name is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP for short. Don’t let the fact that it’s free fool you. It’s a powerful program with full functionality that’s been around for more than 20 years. You’ll find a built-in help system, full documentation, and tutorials, all free. Give it a look and see if it’s right for you.
How about my old prints and photo slides?
On a similar side note, my husband recently transferred my parents’ old photo slides (remember those?) into digital format. What a treasure trove from decades ago! If you have some old slides, you can do the same with a digital slide scanner (typically available around the $100 mark here in the U.S.), although that’s a manual process and can take some time. Likewise, you can scan old photo prints on your flatbed scanner to digitize them or use a phone app like Photomyne or Photoscan. Another option is to have a service do the work for you, which you can easily find online or available through a local retailer.
Worth the effort
Up until this point, I’ve resisted making a Marie Kondo reference, yet organizing your photos can spark oodles of joy. Along the way, you can count on rediscovering tucked-away memories that you’ll want to relive and share. I hope that’s your experience and that these feelings propel you along as you set out on this task. While organizing takes some effort, the rewards await. Have fun!
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