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Google Photos split from Google Drive, no longer available for YouTube import


Google announced today that Google Photos will no longer be integrated with Google Drive. Youtube is also updating its desktop video uploader, and the new version (currently in beta) does not include the option to import videos from Google Photos. Also, the new YouTube desktop uploader no longer includes import from Google Photos.

Google+ Photos were made available in Google Drive in March 2015, shortly before the independent Google+-free Google Photos launched. That integration has been been useful in a number of ways:
Google's stated reason for the breakup is that it's confusing:
Our goal with these changes is to simplify some features that caused confusion for our users, based on feedback and our own research.
And it definitely can be confusing, for example with some people not realizing that deleting images in Photos also deletes them in Drive (and vice versa).

As of July 10th, that syncing will stop.
  • Photos and videos that are already synced will stay where they are - photos from Drive that appear in your Google Photos will stay in Photos and photos from Photos that currently appear in your Drive will stay in Drive. They will not take up extra storage space.
  • Photos and videos in Google Photos and Drive will be separate copies, so deleting a photo from Google Drive will not affect the copy stored in Google Photos and vice versa.
  • You can use the official desktop Backup & Sync tools to backup your photos and videos to both Photos and Drive. But if you upload your images at Original Quality to both places they will take up storage space in both Photos and Drive.
  • You will be able to choose specific photos and videos in your Google Drive to import to Google Photos, but there won't be an option to import from Photos to Drive.
What this also means is that your photos and videos backed up to Google Photos may be inaccessible to third party applications unless you upload a separate copy of the images to Google Drive. This isn't entirely surprising as Google Photos is explicitly designed for "storing, enjoying and sharing personal memories", and is explicitly not for commercial or enterprise use or hosting website media.

In an additional change, YouTube's new desktop video upload tool (currently in beta), no longer has the option to import from Google Photos at all, so eventually direct upload to YouTube may be the only option.

Read on for details about how these changes will work and what they may mean to you.

What is changing?

On July 10, 2019, Google Photos and Google Drive will no longer sync with each other.
  • New photos and videos uploaded to Google Drive will not automatically show in Google Photos, and if you delete an image in Drive it will not be deleted in Photos.
  • New photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos will not automatically show in Google Drive, and if you delete an image in Photos it will not be deleted in Drive.
Images already shared between services will remain:
  • If you are syncing photos and videos from My Drive in Google Drive to your Google Photos library, photos and videos will remain synced as long as you don’t turn the setting off.
  • Any Google Photos photos and videos you already have in Google Drive will remain in Drive, but after the change editing or deleting those photos will not affect the copy in Google Photos.

How will this change affect your storage quota?

Google Accounts come with free 15GB storage for Drive, Photos and Gmail, with the option to purchase more. With the changes, here's how image and video uploads will affect your storage quota:
You can reduce the size of "Original Quality" photos and videos to reduce the amount of storage you are using, but before you do that, be aware that it will also reduce the size of images uploaded via other Google products, including Blogger and Hangouts.

Copy selected Google Drive photos and videos into Google Photos

There will be a new "Import from Drive" option in Google Photos, which lets you pick and choose which of your Google Drive images you import to Photos. Selected images will be copied to your Google Photos.

To copy photos and videos from Google Drive to your Google Photos:

1. On a desktop computer, sign in to photos.google.com
2. At top right click Upload, then select Google Drive
3. Find and select the photos you want to copy into Google Photos
4. Click Upload

There are some limitations, so see this article in the Google Photos help center for details.

Items copied between Google Drive and Google Photos in Original Quality will count towards your storage in both products.

How this change will affect third party tools

The old Picasa Web Album API allowed third party sites and services to access the photos and videos you uploaded to your Google account, both in the old Picasa Web Albums, and then later in Google Photos. That was shut down at the beginning of the year.

It was replaced with a new Google Photos API, which does allow third party sites to access your photo library, but prohibits services from processing, copying or permanently storing the users media.

Some services like WeVideo (which I use for video editing) only offer access to your media via Google Drive. With the change, photos and videos you have backed up to Google Photos will no longer be accessible that way. 

And the trick to embed videos uploaded to Google Photos on your website using the Google Drive copy will no longer work.

With the change, additional steps will be required to re-upload photos and videos to Google Drive or the third party sites directly.

Note that if you want to use images you have uploaded to Google Photos for your website or blog, there may still be options that do not require you to also upload a copy to Google Drive.

If you have a Blogger blog, you can insert photos from Google Photos by selecting Insert Image,  then choosing From Your Phone  as a source.

If you have a WordPress.com site, you can link your account to Google Photos. And for self-hosted WordPress sites there are a number of unofficial plugins that may work to insert images into your site (I haven't tried any to recommend).

YouTube Desktop Video Uploader Beta does not include import from Google Photos

One of the neat tools YouTube offers is the option to import videos uploaded or backed up to Google Photos into your YouTube channel directly. With syncing between Google Photos and Google Drive, this also let you import your videos uploaded to Google Drive into YouTube. 

This process was sometimes glitchy, and importing video from Photos into a YouTube channel on a Brand Account hasn't actually worked for a couple of years.

The new YouTube desktop uploader does not include an import option. 

The classic YouTube desktop uploader will continue let you import your Google Photos videos until it's retired (probably later this year), and Google Drive videos until syncing between Photos and Drive is shut down on July 10th.

If importing videos from your Google Photos or Google Drive is an important feature for you, be sure to send feedback to YouTube directly letting them know that. The feedback option is the icon that looks like a speech balloon with a ! at bottom left on the screenshot. Some pages on YouTube have a "Send Feedback" link at the bottom of the page.

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