Google Photos syncing is making a major change this summer

As a heavy Google Photos user, this news is a day-ruiner.

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What you need to know

  • Starting in July, Google Photos will not automatically sync to Google Drive.
  • Once changes take effect, deleting a photo or video in Google Drive won’t delete it from Google Photos, and vice versa.
  • Changes are coming to “simplify” experience going forward, according to Google.

Google Photos is one of the better services Google offers right now — free unlimited backups of photos and videos across all your devices — and one of my favorite tricks for Google Photos was that everything I took wound up in a dedicated Google Drive folder for easy access and organization, but that feature’s days look like they’re numbered.

The first mention of this possibility came from Forbes a month ago, and according to Android Police, the changes are coming in an effort clear up user confusion and provide a “simplified” experience going forward.

Apparently users have been confused that deleting a photo in Google Photos deletes the copy of it in Google Drive — and vice versa — and other oddities such as edits made in Google Photos not showing up on the photo in Google Drive. Admittedly, even the support page for Photos/Drive syncing has a lot of pitfalls and caveats in it, and this change is aimed at making things easier to understand and manage for users.

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It is worth noting that you’ll still be able to sync photos to both Photos and Drive — but only with the Google Backup & Sync tool. Need to get photos from Google Drive into Google Photos? Google Photos will have a “Upload from Drive” feature to allow for easy importing, but there’s no such luck in the opposite direction, which is huge bummer for me and for all Chromebook users.

See, since Google Drive is integrated into the Files app on Chromebooks, with automatic syncing turned on, you could access and edit/upload Google Photos images directly from the Google Photos folder in the Files app. With the new changes, that goes away and you’ll have to manually download photos every single time you want to use them on a Chromebook, complicating what was a mostly seamless process.

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This also means that should Google Photos go offline for any reason, your photos will be totally inaccessible, as opposed to still being accessible through Google Drive during unexpected outages.