DIY Guide for Copying Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Copying your photos and videos to Google Photos can be done all by yourself. Each service has a unique process that we detail here for you.

Before we begin, a public service announcement. Yes, we launched a service to make this process easier and faster. Yes, we’re showing you how to skip using Gather and do it yourself for free. There is nothing weird about this guide. We are not trying to trick you into using Gather. Gather can securely do what’s described in this guide and more in minutes. If you’re willing to pay for this convenience, please consider giving Gather a try. If not, we hope this guide saves you some time!


Dropbox

If you’re using Dropbox, you’re probably familiar with the Dropbox desktop app. Installing the app on your computer creates the Dropbox folder. This folder automatically syncs the files in the folder to your Dropbox account. You can use the Dropbox folder like you would any other folder, but remember that the files you put in the folder will be synced to your Dropbox account. This also means that anything you remove from the folder will be removed from your Dropbox account. Visit Dropbox’s help article on the desktop app for instructions on how to set this up.

Once you’ve installed the Dropbox desktop app on your computer, the easiest way to copy your photos and videos into Google Photos is to target the Dropbox folder using Google Backup and Sync. We recommend targeting the entire Dropbox folder, but you could add specific folders if you’d like.

Recommended settings for importing photos and videos from your Dropbox folder to Google Photos using Google Back Up & Sync

Facebook

Here are Facebook’s instructions on how to download your data and here are our abbreviated steps:

  1. Go to Facebook settings > Your Facebook information
  2. Click Download Your Information
  3. Select the Photos & Videos checkbox (see screenshot below)
  4. Ensure that the media quality is set to “High” (see screenshot below)
  5. Click “Create File” button
  6. Download the zip file once you receive it
Recommended settings for downloading photos and videos from your Facebook account

Facebook will begin preparing a zip file with your photos, videos and an HTML file containing metadata for your photos/videos. Facebook will email you when your zip file is ready to download.

Once you’ve downloaded the file, unzip the file and view the contents of the folder. The folder should contain subfolders for each of your albums on Facebook. Use Google Backup and Sync to target those folders to upload your photos/videos to Google Photos. We recommend excluding the “thumbnails” and “stickers used” folders when uploaded to Google Photos.

After that’s complete, you’ll need to manually edit the date and location for each photo/video individually. To do this, locate the HTML file we mentioned earlier (in most cases, it’s named “index.html”). Open the HTML file in a browser (like Chrome, Firefox or Safari). Next, click on the “Your Photos” or “Your Videos” link and then click on albums and/or posts to view the metadata associated with your content. You should see any metadata that was embedded in the photo/video that you uploaded including:

  • Date and time posted to Facebook
  • Orientation
  • Original Width
  • Original Height
  • ISO Speed
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Upload IP Address
Locating metadata in the HTML document you downloaded from Facebook

For location we suggest pasting the latitude and longitude into Google Maps to look up the location name if needed.


Instagram

Here are Instagram’s instructions on how to download your data and here are our abbreviated steps:

  1. Fill out a request
  2. You will receive an email with a download link for a zip file with your photos and videos
  3. Download the zip file once you receive it

Once you’ve downloaded the file, unzip the file and view the contents of the folder. Use Google Backup and Sync to target those folders to upload your photos/videos to Google Photos. We recommend specifically targeting the “photos”, “videos”, and “stories” folders.

After that’s complete, you’ll need to manually edit the date and location for each photo/video individually. To do this, you can get the date and location in the media.json file included in the zip file. JSON can be a little difficult to read so we suggest doing a quick google search for a free JSON to CSV or Excel converter.


Your hard drive

Whether it’s the hard drive in your computer or an external hard drive, we recommend using Google Backup and Sync to get your photos/videos into Google Photos. Note: If you are using an external hard drive, you’ll need to connect it to your computer or copy the files to your computer in order to target them for automatic syncing and uploading to Google Photos.

Your phone

Enable Google Backup & Sync in Google Photos settings. Google has you covered! It happens automatically!

Your camera

Transfer photos and videos to your hard drive, and then use Google Backup and Sync to get your photos/videos into Google Photos. After that, maybe ask yourself if you really need that camera anymore.


We hope this guide has been helpful to show you all the ways you can use Google Photos to share your photos/videos. If you’re hooked on Google Photos like we are, here are some other Google Photos guides we created.