Suggestions for an alternative to Google Photos for cloud backup, search, and sharing?

My goal: To leave Google Photos.

My reason: After Google relented and let those of use with G Suite legacy accounts for personal use continue, they blocked us from increasing our paid extra storage. I don’t understand why they don’t want our money to pay for more storage, but that’s what it is. I’m about to reach my 115 GB limit and can’t buy more. Most of the storage is photos, so I’d like to move them somewhere else.

I also have a 2 TB iCloud account. So my photos exist there as well. Plus I have TimeMachine and BackBlaze backups.

Google Photos was the nicest of them for sharing and searching I think. It would be nice to have a service that was as good as that which automatically synced, was great with searching, and also made it easy to share individual photos or albums. It can be a paid service.

Any suggestions?

Or maybe just pull back from Google Photos and live with iCloud sharing/searching?

And if I withdraw from Google Photos and delete photos and videos to save space what’s the safest way of doing that to make sure my photos don’t also get deleted from my Mac and iPhone! Every time I delete from Google Photos it confirms I’m also going to be deleting from my devices.


Just curious – are you able to upgrade to a regular Google personal account that allows more storage? If so, how much more would it cost?

Have you considered I am a paid subscriber (since 2004 or so), and currently have 170GB of photos there (89,000), of which over 15,000 are “public”, and the rest private, or “Friends/Family” only.

There are apps for iOS and Mac OS which upload automatically any photo in designated folder or library.

Flickr’s current owner, SmugMug, is a professional photo hosting and sales corporation, so they are cognizant of what photographers needs are (as opposed to and Verizon, previous owners of Flickr).

There is a free tier you could explore first, but if you are willing to pay an annual fee, seems like Flickr would work well.

edit to add: Flickr Pro users have unlimited storage btw.

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Thanks for the suggestion. It sounds soooo familiar. I think once in the past I used Flickr. I don’t remember why I stopped. I don’t remember ever having any problems with it. Since it sounds long-term stable I will definitely check it out. I wonder if they have a migration feature from Google Photos. Anyway, will definitely check it out! Thanks.


Wow. I did have an account there. I joined in 2009 and have 41 photos up there. It has a picture of my “new” iPad taken in 2012 on my iPhone 4 and some old family and pet photos.

I can’t remember why I stopped using it. I’m going to check into it more. I wonder if they have a migration feature from Google Photos. Thanks for reminding me of it!

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I was testing Flickr with my old account, which has 50 photos in it, last updated in 2012. Flickr doesn’t seem to have basic search of “things” like iCloud Photos and Google Photos, does it? For example, I have half a dozen photos of my former java sparrow in my photostream, but searched for “birds” and it found no results.

Downside - you have to enter your own tags, at least currently. Previously there was an autotag feature, but not now that I’m aware of.

That’s probably a deal breaker. I have like 60,000 photos going back decades.

Well, if there is no good alternative (for my case) to Google Photos and Google doesn’t want to sell us legacy G Suite people more space I suppose I can just withdraw from Google Photos to free up the space for my email (also going back decades) and just use iCloud Photos.

iCloud isn’t awful. And it has “ok search” of things which seems to be improving over time. I think it has things like plant identification now too.

Sharing is a little more awkward, but if you make folders they can be shared pretty easily. I think non-Apple people can also see shared items, right?

Commenting is equally cumbersome with iCloud Photos and Google Photos.

I didn’t realize Google tagged photos? Is this a new feature? For me, I add tags as I add photos to my library, and use descriptive titles (which are also searchable) but for sure if one was to tag 60,000 photos that would be a full time job.

I have noticed that Google has gotten progressively more stingy with the amount of storage they allow - my legacy university email account is now only 1 GB of space. Seems like a corporate policy to reduce storage costs.

I am not aware of tags in google photos. I just meant that you can search for different things without tags because it analyzes content. So you can find, say, all pictures with birds, or clocks, or clouds, or benches, etc. Same with Apple photos.

As part of figuring out what to do I downloaded a large album (852 photos, several GB) to my Mac, and created a new album in Apple Photos on my Mac with those photos.

The Recents folder on my iPhone seems to have all the folders, but the new album on the iPhone, while present, is empty.

Not really sure whether it’s a matter of time or what. But my Recents folder is all crowded with these images. And I’m sure a lot of them are duplicates somehow because they originated from iPhone photos. Sort of confusing, but there’s no “undo” for this.

Also, the import in Mac Photos was basically instantaneous, which I thought was weird. After the import I deleted the downloaded zip file and expanded folder from which I imported to clear the space, and they still seem to be in Mac Photos, so not sure what I did. :slight_smile:

I’ll check again in the morning.

The images are now showing up in the album on my iPhone. I think they are small thumbnails though. I guess because they are still syncing? I wish I had just created that album originally in Apple Photos!

Is there a way to set the album cover like in Google Photos? And quickly scroll to the latest photo in an album?

Hi. I’m a Smugmug user with many thousand images uploaded. All my images are fully captioned in PS with a title, description (includes the Who,What, When, Where info), copyright info and keywords. the filename is an alpha-numeric which would mean nothing to anyone searching for an image.
If Flickr uses the same system that Smugmug uses then searches are instant without having to specify a field to search. For example, I can search for Wayne Shorter by typing any of the following; Wayne, Shorter, London, saxophone, club, Kentish Town. If I type 04 April 1987 in the search box it will display all the pictures taken on that date.
Assuming you have at least titled your photos then searching should not be a problem.

I have to admit though, entering all that info for each image takes time. I do have a workflow set up to help but it’s still a pain.

Tagging is really not comparable to a recognition search. For example, who tags their photos with every single object in a photo (clocks on the wall, scissors on the table, etc. ). It’s so fascinating when you do a search in Apple Photos and discover images you didn’t even know you had.

You can search for sky and find all your images of beautiful skies even though you weren’t saving them for that purpose originally.

That’s true Doug, but does Apple photos know the difference between a Zildjian K cymbal and a Fender-Rhodes piano?
For me and anyone searching my collection, that is critically important.

I’m sure Apple Photos would not know the difference. But in addition to automatic recognition or AI or whatever you want to call it you can add a caption/description to each photo. Search would then find those.

Anyway, I’m left with sort of a mess at the moment. :slight_smile: I can probably live with it, or maybe I’ll use Time Machine to revert. The issue? There are duplicates in my All Photos - the originals and the “optimized quality” versions from Google Photos when I imported the album I wanted to keep. It’s more of a nuisance than a critical space wasting issue.

Also, it turns out to be easy to prevent deleting from Google Photos from deleting on your devices. Just turn off backup/sync in Google Photos on your devices. The Mac itself seems to sync from your devices, not from Google Photos, so I don’t think there is anything to set there.


I see in the iPhone Photos app that in addition to Recents there is All Photos in Library. That matches with what I see in the Mac Photos app. So all those imported ones, while lower quality duplicates of originals, are ok I guess.

Agh. Time to stop obsessing about this. :slight_smile:

But one thing that’s not clear to me about deleting from Google Photos to make more space is which photos are actually taking up space? Remember, for a long time it was unlimited storage for free. Photos stored then don’t count towards your quota.