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Back up your Google+ photos and videos before the April 2nd shutdown

When consumer Google+ shuts down on April 2, your Google+ "Photos from Posts" and "Photos of You" albums in your Album Archive will be deleted. Google Photos is a separate product, and will NOT be shutdown. Any of your photos that are in Google Photos will NOT be deleted.

Photo upload, editing and management were a major draw to Google+ from its launch in 2011. Google+ offered "Instant Uploads" to back up the photos on your phone to the cloud, Creative Kit, which let you easily edit your photos, and later "Auto Awesome" enhancements. (See the timeline at the end of the post for the highlights.)

Then in 2015 Google announced that Google Photos would be a standalone product, split away from Google+. That was a harbinger of doom: just two months later Google announced that Google+ would no longer be a social layer across Google+. The new Google+ no longer included any special photo features, and had a new design where Profiles no longer even had a Photos tab.

But despite that, it's not surprising that many people remember the days when photos were central to Google+ and are concerned that their photos will be deleted when consumer Google+ shuts down on April 2nd.

What WILL be deleted when consumer Google+ shuts down
  • The Google+ "Photos from Posts" album in Album Archive. Some of these images may also be in Google Photos.
  • The Google+ "Photos of You" album in Album Archive. There will not be a copy of these images in Google Photos, unless you uploaded the photo yourself.
  • Images added to Google+ comments
  • Images used as Google+ Collection cover images
Note: if your website or blogs links to a Google+ photos, there is a strong chance those links will stop working. For example, the Friends+Me Google+ Exporter lets you create an archive of your Google+ posts that can be imported into Blogger or WordPress. If you do not also export your original images and upload them to WordPress or Blogger along with your posts, the post images will likely disappear after April 2nd. Images uploaded directly to Blogger or other platforms won't be affected.

What will NOT be deleted when consumer Google+ shuts down
  • Google Photos will NOT be deleted
  • Any photos that you uploaded or backed up to Google Photos will NOT be deleted
  • Photos and videos uploaded to Google+ before Google Photos launched in 2015 will NOT be deleted and can be found in Google Photos
  • Photos and videos backed up at any time using older versions of Google+ mobile apps (from 2015 or earlier) will NOT be deleted and can be found in Google Photos
  • Photos and videos that were associated with Google+ Events will not be deleted and can be found in Google Photos
  • Photos uploaded to Hangouts and Blogger will NOT be deleted and can be accessed in your Album Archive

If you want more detailed instructions on how to view or download your Google+ photos and videos from posts, read on!

View your Google+ photos and videos from posts in your Google Album Archive


  1. Sign in to Google
  2. Open your Album Archive get.google.com/albumarchive
  3. Optional: if you want to see images shared by a Google+ Page, click your profile photo at top right, then select your Page's Brand Account from the list. If you don't see it click "All my Brand Accounts", and then the Brand Account name.
  4. Click Photos from Posts or Photos of You (photos you were tagged in)
Your photos are arranged in dated albums. The date is the day, month and year you shared the image on Google+, not the date the photo was taken or edited.


You can download the photos from a single album:
  1. Click on the album to open it opening the album
  2. Click the 3 dot menu icon at top right
  3. Select Download album
This may work for you if you haven't uploaded many photos, or only want to save a few. Otherwise it's not practical to save a copy of your images that way.  Google Takeout is the best way to download all your photos at once.

Check to see if specific photos are also in your Google Photos

As noted above, all photos that you uploaded to Google+ Photos and all albums you created before Google Photos split away in 2015 should be in Google Photos. You can double check your Google Photos to make sure a specific photo is there.
  1. Sign in to Google Photos (photos.google.com) or open the Google Photos app on your mobile device.
  2. Try searching for a photo by person, location or thing (my example photo above I found by searching for "squirrel") 
  3. Scroll through your photos to the month the photo was taken to see if it's there
Note that the date you shared your photo on Google+ may be different than the date of the photo itself, which is how Google Photos is organized.

Album Archive date October 27, 2014
Same image in Google Photos dated January 16. 2014

In my example above, I shared the image to Google+ in October 2014, but I took the photo in January 2014. Even though the image was "enhanced" by Google+ in October, it retained its original creation date in January in Google Photos.

It probably isn't practical to do such checks for more than a handful of images.

Download your Photos and Videos using Google Takeout

You can create an archive of the photos and videos you shared on Google+ and the photos you were tagged in using Google Takeout. Note that this will not include photos you added to comments. It also doesn't include photos or videos uploaded to other Google products like YouTube, Blogger or Hangouts.

If you have been regularly sharing images to Google+ this archive is may be quite large. If you don't have storage space on your hard drive, or only have a mobile device, you can have your archive delivered to a cloud storage account (Google Drive, OneBox, Dropbox, Box).
  1. Sign in to Google
  2. Open Google Takeout (takeout.google.com)
  3. Optional:  if you want to archive images shared by a Google+ Page, click your profile photo at top right, then select your Page's Brand Account from the list. If you don't see it click "All my Brand Accounts", and then the Brand Account name. Get detailed instructions for downloading a Google+ Page's content.
  4.  From the list of Google products, make sure you have Google+ Stream selected. You may want to de-select other Google products first, or click this link for  Google+ data to be pre-selected
  5. Click All Google+ Stream data included to choose to only download your photos and not posts or other content. Click OK  after selecting your data.
  6. At the bottom of the page, click the Next button to set your Archive options.
  7. Choose the file type: The default .zip archive should be openable on most platforms
  8. Choose the maximum archive size: Note that some devices may not be able to handle archives larger than the default 2GB file
  9. Choose the delivery method:  If you have a desktop computer or external hard drive with a lot of storage space, select Send download link via email
    If you only have a mobile device or otherwise not much storage
     select the option to have the archive sent to a cloud storage service. If your archive is very large you may have to pay for additional storage. 


The options include:
10. Click Create Archive
11. Google will send you an email when your archive is ready.

What's in your Google Takeout Google+ Stream Photos archive?


After downloading your archive from Google Takeout, you can view your photos:
  1. Unzip the takeout archive file.  On most systems you can just double click the file.  If your archive is in multiple files, unzip all of them. 
  2. Open the Takeout folder. You should see an index.html file and a folder for each product you downloaded.
  3. Open the index.html file in your favorite web browser. This will show you an index of the archived files, and any error messages. 
  4. To access your photo files, open the Google+ Stream folder, and inside that, the Photos folder.
  5. Open each folder to access the contents, which includes image files and metadata files. The metadata files connect the original image information (such as file name and date) to your image file
    • Photos from posts: photos you uploaded to Google+ in albums labeled by date. Images should be in their original format.
    • Miscellaneous Photos: these appear to be albums created in Google+ Photos
    • Profile photos:  your profile photos
    • Photos of you:  files with links to the photos that you were tagged in. The original images may not be available after April 2, 2019, so you may want to open and download them.
    • Poll photos: images you used to create Google+ Polls
    • Scrapbook photos: Google+ profile cover images
The files aren't organized in a very user friendly way, unfortunately, but at least it's a backup.

What can you do with photos downloaded through Google Takeout?

Images and videos downloaded through Google Takeout should be in their original file format. That means you can use them like any other image file.

If you just want your photos to be accessible online and shareable, but don't care if they are public, I think Google Photos is your best bet. That's especially true if you are already using Google Photos to back up your new photos, or have older photos originally uploaded to Google+ in your Google Photos account.

Here are some options for storing all your photos:
If you only want to post selected photos and videos publicly, you have more options:
  • Upload your photos to photo site like Flickr (up to 1000 images for free accounts, unlimited for Pro accounts) or 500px (limited to 7 uploads in a 7 day period).
  • Upload your videos to YouTube (unlimited), Vimeo (storage limits) or other video site.
  • Share some of the photos and videos to your favorite social network (other than Google+) like Facebook, Instagram (upload from mobile devices only), or Pinterest.
  • Blog about your photos and videos using Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress or other blogging platform
  • If you want to sell your photography, build a site using Wix, SmugMug, Zenfolio or other sitebuilder platform aimed at photographers.  

Photos and Google+: A walk down memory lane




  • July 2013: Google Maps introduces Views to browse and share photo spheres (announcement on Google+)
  • August 2013: Google+ Photos app for Chromebooks launches (announcement on Google+) and you can see your Google Drive photos in Google+ Photos (and vice versa). Users were also given more control over which photos were shown in "Highlights" view on their profile (announcement on Google+).
  • September 2013: Enhancements to Auto Enhance: better at removing color casts, shadows on faces, brightening night scenes (announcement on Google+). Better RAW to JPG conversion (announcement on Google+)
  • October 2013: Full size backups and autosync, search your photos by object, control how much "Auto Enhance" is used. Plus three new Auto Awesome effects: Action, Eraser and Movie highlight reels on some devices. You can still download the "Moments that matter" booklet showcasing the photos highlighted at the announcement.
  • December 2013: Shake your Android device to make it snow in your photos, and users got an AutoAwesome movie recapping their year's highlights in photos.
  • February 2014: HDR Scape effect available on the web (already in Snapseed for iOS and Android), Zoom in on images in lightbox view.
  • February 2014: Use the calendar in Google+ Photos to jump to a month and year (announcement on Google+)
  • April 1, 2014: Hoffsome photo bombs for April Fool's Day
  • May 2014: Introducing automatically created Google+ Stories and Movies on web, iOS and Android. Plus you can now create your own Mix collages and Motion animations in the Android Google+ app (announcement on Google+)
  • June 2014: : Edit your previous edits to your photos, introducing Auto Awesome Effects (announcement on Google+). Paint your face with a flag with #WorldCup hashtag. Google+ app now works with Chromecast to view photos.
  • October 2014: "Halloweenify" your photos (announcement on Google+)
  • December 2014: Publicly shared photos on Google+ can be featured as a backdrop on Chromecast, Google Fiber and other Google products. (announcement on Google+)
  • May 2015: Google+ introduces Collections: "Every collection is a focused set of posts on a particular topic, providing an easy way for people using Google+ to organize their interests and focus areas."
  • also May 2015: Google Photos launches as a separate product from Google+. Photos previously uploaded to Google+ and albums created in Google+ can be found in Google Photos, as can albums and photos from Picasa Web Albums. It does not include photos from Blogger, Hangouts or - going forward - uploaded directly to Google+.


Comments

  1. How do I 'backup my Google+ Album Archive to Google Photos?'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Album Archive contains photos from Google Photos already, plus images uploaded through Google+, Hangouts, Blogger and other Google sites.
      There isn't any way to move images that are not already in Google Photos (like Google+ Photos from Posts or Blogger images) into Google Photos. You will need to use Google Takeout to download those photos, then re-upload them to Google Photos.

      Delete

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