What should you do before June 1, when Google Photos ends unlimited free storage? Here’s your checklist.

There is nothing you need to do before June 1. The only thing that changes on June 1 is that newly uploaded photos can no longer be completely free. But, I do think you should take advantage of the free option for photos uploaded before June 1. To make sure you are getting the free storage benefit, check these 3 things. It will only take you a minute.

  1. Mobile devices are completely backed up to Google Photos.
    To check this, all you do is open the Google Photos app on your phone or tablet and tap the account button in the upper right. You’re looking for a message that reads, “Backup Complete.” If instead, it reads something like “Waiting for Wi-Fi, 324 photos to backup” or “Getting ready to back up” or “Backup off” then you need to turn on backup, connect your phone to Wi-Fi and watch to see that your photos are being backed up. Keep checking until you see “Backup Complete.” See video 636
The message in the red box should read, “Backup Complete” Keep checking until it does.

2. ✓ All Photos and videos from your mobile devices are being uploaded in High Quality size.
To check this, open the Google Photos app on your phone or tablet and tap the account button in the upper right, then choose “Photos Settings” and tap on “Back up & Sync.” Towards the bottom of the screen, you’ll see Upload size. That should be set to High Quality, not Original size. This is the setting that allowed photos to take 0 storage space before June 1 and it will still be useful after June 1 since it takes up less storage space.

Make sure the upload size is High Quality

3. Google Photos is using 0 storage in your Google Account.
Photos and videos backed up in High Quality are compressed and do not (currently) count toward your Google Account storage allotment. So, if you look at what is taking up storage in your Google Account (one.google.com/storage), you should see Google Photos listed as 0. If you see anything other than 0 there, that means that some photos and videos got uploaded in Original size.

Google Photos number should be 0 before June 1

If your Google Photos storage is anything other than 0, you can retroactively compress those old files using the Recover Storage command. Go to the web version of Google Photos at Photos.Google.com and click the settings button. You should see a recover storage button.

If you don’t see a Recover storage button, just click on the High Quality button (or toggle between Original and High Quality) and you will get a dialog box asking if you want to “Switch to High Quality and Compress.” Check the box and Confirm. When it’s done, you should see that Google Photos is now using 0 space of your storage. This could take several hours depending on how many GB you have.

Photos stored on your computer

If you have photos stored on your computer, I hope you already uploaded them to your Google Photos account because this can take some time. If you have photos and videos that still need to be uploaded, you have two choices on how to do it; manual or automatic – watch video 584. For information on the automatic method, see this article.

Everything you need to know

When Google announced this change, back in November 2020, I wrote this article: Google Photos free unlimited storage is ending – here’s everything you need to know

22 thoughts on “What should you do before June 1, when Google Photos ends unlimited free storage? Here’s your checklist.”

  1. richard clarkson

    I had my photos stored in high quality. i’ve switched back and forth between high quality and original storage and don’t see any recover storage button come up. I don’t know how to get them to zero like you suggest.

    1. It sounds like you’re already at 0. If there is no storage to recover, the option will not appear. Did you check at one.google.com/storage?

  2. Thank you so much for this reminder — it has saved me time and frustration. I appreciate all the work you have done regarding this.

    1. iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service. Google Photos is Google’s cloud storage service for photos and videos. They do not interact.
      If you have iCloud turned on in your iPhone settings, then every photo you take with your iPhone is uploaded to iCloud.
      If you have the Google Photos app installed on your iPhone – and the setting is ON for back up & Sync – then every photo you take with your iPhone is uploaded to Google Photos.

  3. All my photos & videos are uploaded to Google. If after June 1 I delete 50MB of photos will that space be available free to reuse?

    After June 1 will any photos taken be uploaded automatically. Does Google start to bill me $1.99 a month or just not accept the photos until I subscribe for more space?

    1. Gary,
      No, the free unlimited storage is only available before June 1. If, after June 1, you delete photos, it does not make free space available. The only free space available after June 1 is the 15GB that is shared by GMail, Google Drive, and Google Photos.
      After June 1 your photos will be uploaded automatically IF you have the app installed on your phone, and you have back up & sync turned on. Nothing changes there.
      Google will not bill you. IF you exceed the 15GB of free storage, you won’t be able to upload more photos (or emails, or Google Drive files) until you subscribe for more storage space.

  4. Step #1 & 2…okay
    Step #3…one.google storage was 0.28 GB of 15 GB storage used…so, I did what you said and selected Recover Storage Command. On photos.google.com it says…
    “compressing photos & videos to high quality”. It has been many hours now and I swear I don’t see any change in anything. What should I do now? Please help…I love my photos

    1. It sounds like you did fine. Just go back to one.google.com/storage and I’ll bet it says 0 used by Google Photos now.

    1. We’re home in Fort Lauderdale, FL. You won’t lose photos because of what’s happening on June 1. My checklist is about getting the most storage for free before they close the free door. Everything stored in Google Photos is safe. If you should exceed your free limit and you don’t pay for more, you won’t be able to upload any more. Regardless of all of this, if you love your photos, you should have a backup. If your only copy is in Google Photos – you still need a backup. I make albums in Google Photos of all my best photos, then I download those albums to my computer. Here’s a video: https://youtu.be/r1XGwPIFkCM

  5. Only issue I am having is backing up in high quality 63 items, which are videos. It says backing up but after over an hour nothing seems to change. Still says 63 items left. I understand videos take longer to back up but shouldn’t I see this change?

    1. An hour may not be enough, depending on the length of the video and the speed of your internet connection. You could try turning off back up& sync, then manually backing up (uploading) the shortest video. To do that, open the video and you should see a cloud with up arrow at the top right. Tap that to start uploading the current video. If that works, then try turning back up & sync back on.

  6. I am confused about backup vs. uploading. I was trying to backup 63 items in high quality which were videos but they were taking a long time and nothing was changing so I went in to select them with checkmarks and how Uploading in Original Quality instead of Backup but still nothing seems to be changing. Not sure also why it went back to original quality. Obviously I am doing something wrong.

    1. Backup and uploading are two words for the same thing in Google Photos. You should definitely be using High Quality – if the setting somehow gets switched to Original you need to change it back to High Quality.

  7. Pixel 3 Verizon. I do not have an upload size setting. It just says “Backing up in original quality is unlimited until 2/1/22” without a way of changing to High Quality.

    1. That’s OK. Your Pixel 3 is special. Since it gives you unlimited Original Quality uploads for free (until 2/1/22) it doesn’t even offer you the High Quality option. I’m sure that sometime before 2/1/22 Google will add the High Quality (aka Storage Saver) size and notify you to make that change then.

  8. I’ve been scanning and adding photos like crazy the last few days to get in under the June 1st deadline. I own your newest Learn Google Photos book as well as the prior version so was always set to “high quality” per your instructions. This morning I noticed that the setting is on “original.” I did not change the setting and apparently all the adding I did the last few days were done under the “original” setting. I changed it back to “high quality” but wonder why this happened. Any ideas?

    1. Nancy, I know what you mean – I always keep my setting to High Quality, yet I’ve had to switch it back from Original several times. It seems to have started when I signed up for the $2/mo plan so my deduction is that the default is Original when you are a paid subscriber and it is easy for settings to revert to defaults. When you switched it back, I hope you also clicked on Recover Storage – that’s what compresses already uploaded files. You can still do that now, but compression will mean they take up less storage rather than no storage like before June 1.

  9. Hey there!

    I uploaded a ton of photos (100,000+) at Original Quality prior to the June 1, 2021 cutoff. Since then, I’ve been approaching my 15BG limit. If I ask Google Photos to “Recover Storage”, will it compress all those pre-June ’21 Original Quality photos as well? Those older photos may not count against my storage, but Google might want that space for themselves! LOL

    I’ve scoured the web and Google, but can’t get a definitive answer.

    1. Paul,
      The only photos that don’t count are those uploaded in High Quality (now ‘storage saver’) before June ’21. If you uploaded before June ’21 but in Original Quality – those counted. If you now use the “Recover Storage” feature, it will convert those old Original Quality photos to Storage Saver, but they will still count against your storage. Storage Saver is roughly half the size of Original Quality.

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