Free up space on your iPad or iPhone with Google Photos

The Google Photos app displays all the photos and videos that are in the Google Photos library located in the cloud on Google’s servers. The library in the cloud can include automatic backup copies of all photos and videos that are saved locally on the phone or iPad. The local copies, that are taking up space on your iPad or iPhone are the originals that you either shot with the phone, or photos you downloaded to the phone from messages, email or social media. Ideally, you would want to remove the local copies of these photos and videos to free up space on the iPad or your iPhone, but continue to have access on this phone to the copies that are in your library on the Google cloud.

The Google Photos app can be downloaded from the GPS Self Service app or from the AppStore.

Once you have downloaded the app, you will want to verify your settings to make sure everything is set up properly.

  1. Click on the 3 lines in the top left corner and make sure you are logged in to your @gps.edu account. If you are not, now is a good time to log in.
  2. Next, click on Settings
  3. Under Back up & Sync mirror the settings below
    • Back up & sync should be enabled
    • Your Backup Account should be set to your GPS account
    • Upload size can be set to Original
    • Make sure that both Photos back up using cellular data and Videos back up using cellular data are both disabled.
  4. Go back to settings and verify that Google Location History is turned off.
  5. The Remove geo location in items shared by link should be enabled if you do not want to share the location of where the photo was taken when you share it with others.

How to delete local photos and videos from an iPad while protecting the backups in the Google Photos library  

Please read all steps before deleting any photos.

VERY IMPORTANT: After you have select the photos to remove, DO NOT tap the Trashcan icon on the top of the screen. This will remove the photo from your phone AND your Google Photos library.

The first this we want to do is to make sure that the originals that we want to remove from this iPad or iPhone really are backed up to Google Photos library. The best way to do that is to use a web browser on a computer. That way you can see and work from the Google Photos app from the iPad while browsing your Google Photos library on a browser like Google Chrome on a computer.

On a computer, in Google Chrome, make sure you are logged in to MyGPS, then in a separate tab go to https://photos.google.com.

Verify that the photos on the Google Photos website on your computer are the same photos that you have on your iPad and/or iPhone. If they are, it is now safe to delete the local copies on your iPad or iPhone.

  1. Launch your Google Photos app on your iPad.
  2. Tap and hold to select the photos you wish to delete.
  3. Do NOT click on the Trashcan icon, instead click on the three dots icon and tap Delete device original. Google Photos will confirm if you want to delete the photos and you can answer yes as we have already confirmed that the photo is backed up to the Google Photos library.
  4. There is one more step before the photos are deleted from your iPad. Go to the Apple Photos app on your iPad.
  5. Click on Albums.
  6. Find the album called Recently Deleted and tap to open it.
  7. Scroll to the top and find the photos that you deleted from your device in the Google Photos app.
  8. The recently deleted photos are marked for deletion in 30 days which means they will be automatically deleted in 30 days if we do not do anything. To free up space immediately, tap Select on the top right of the screen and select the photos you wish to delete, then tap Delete at the bottom left corner. Confirm and choose Delete at the prompt that appears.
  9. You can go back to your Google Photos app and see that the photos you deleted from your device are still in your Google Photos app.

For step by step tutorials, visit Google’s Help Center.


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