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How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

I’ve run across a few people lately who switched iPhones and were surprised to discover that their shiny new devices weren’t keeping track of the places where their photos were taken. The way I noticed this was by looking at the images after they’d been synced to Photos on the Mac; if you double-click on a picture to open it, you’ll see the place where it was taken on the toolbar at the top.
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
Alternatively, if an image has no location info attached, you’ll find that data missing in the toolbar.
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
Plus, if you click the “i” in the toolbar to get the item’s info…

…you’ll note that the location section is blank, with the window instead asking you to “assign a location.”
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
On iOS devices, you can see if an image has location data by opening it from the Photos app and then, once opened, swiping up.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

I swear there’s a map hidden beneath my redacting.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Obviously it’s handy to know where your photos were taken (assuming you aren’t paranoid about your device tracking your location), so how do you enable this if it’s off? Well, first you’ll visit the Settings app on the device you’re taking pictures with…
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
…then tap on the “Privacy” section.
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
At the top, you’ll see “Location Services.” Select that.
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
Finally, find and select the “Camera” settings on the subsequent screen.
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
You’ll want to make sure that those options are toggled to “While Using the App” and not “Never.”
How to add location to google photos on pc or mac
With Location Services enabled for your iPhone’s Camera pap, the pictures you snap with that device will have the location info attached if it’s available. Which is great, because that means you can search your Photos library by place! Or if you’re like me, it’ll mean that you can just remember where you’ve been. I’m forgetful like that.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

It’s important to know how to upload to Google Photos, especially if you take lots of photos on your phone. After all, you don’t want to lose all your precious pictures if your device is lost, stolen or broken.

The Google Photos app should back up all your photos and videos automatically, but it doesn’t always happen. Perhaps your phone is set to only upload content when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, or the app isn’t syncing the right folders.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to upload to Google Photos manually, both on your mobile device and on your desktop computer. You can also ensure that the service automatically backs up photos and videos in future, and at the quality of your choice.

In this guide we’ll explain the easiest ways to upload to Google Photos wherever you are.

How to upload to Google Photos: From your phone

Provided you have “Back up & sync” switched on, the Google Photos app on your Android or iOS phone or tablet should automatically upload your photos and videos to the cloud. But you can also upload them manually. Here’s how.

1. Open the Google Photos app on your phone or tablet and select a photo or video that you want to upload.

Tap the cloud icon in the top-right corner of the app. You should see a message at the bottom of the screen that says “Uploading.”

2. If you don’t see the cloud icon, tap the three-line button in the top-right corner of the app. Choose “Back up now” to upload the photo or video to Google Photos.

3. To ensure that your photos and videos upload to Google Photos automatically, tap your profile picture in the top-right corner of the app and select “Photos settings.”

Switch on “Back up & sync” if it’s turned off. If you’re worried about exceeding your monthly data usage limit, tap “Mobile data usage” at the bottom of the screen and set a daily limit for backups, from 5MB to Unlimited.

4. Google Photos will automatically upload the contents of your Camera folder, but you can make it back up other folders, too. Tap “Back up device folders” and choose which folders you want to sync, such as Screenshots and WhatsApp Images.

5. To set Google Photos to only upload your photos and videos when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, switch off “Back up & sync,” then go back to your account screen and tap “Turn on backup.”

6. Switch off the option “Back up over mobile data when there’s no Wi-Fi.”

To improve the quality of your uploads, change from the default of “Storage saver” (which reduces their quality but uses less of your storage limit) to “Original quality.” Tap Confirm to save these changes.

How to upload to Google Photos: From your desktop

You can upload individual photos and videos, or whole batches of them, to Google Photos from your desktop. Here are the easiest ways to do so through your web browser and by using “Backup and sync.”

1. Visit the Google Photos website in your browser. Click the Upload button in the top-right corner of the Photos page and choose Computer.

When the Open box opens, select the photo or video you want to upload and click Open. To upload multiple files, either hold down Ctrl while you click them, or select them with your mouse.

2. Alternatively, you can simply drag and drop photos and videos from your desktop into Google Photos in your browser. You’ll see a pop-up confirming that items have been uploaded in the bottom-left corner of the window.

To add photos and videos to a specific album, you can either select an album when you upload them, or click Albums and select an album there. Click the “Add photos” button in the top-right corner and choose “Select from computer.”

3. You can also import photos and videos from Google Drive by choosing that option in the Upload menu. This will open a Google Drive window where you can select the files to upload to Google Photos.

4. To save you having to upload photos and videos to Google Drive manually, select “Download Backup and sync” in the Upload menu and download the free app to your PC or Mac.

5. Once downloaded, install and open the “Backup and sync” app. Click “Get Started”, then choose “Sign in with your browser.”

Click Allow to grant the app access to your Google account.

6. Back in the “Backup and sync” app, select “Back up photos and videos,” then click Next. Choose the folders on your computer that you want to automatically back up to and sync with Google Photos.

Specify whether to keep photos and videos at their original size, or choose “Storage saver” to reduce their resolution and save space.

Finally, click Start to begin uploading the contents of the selected folders to Google Photos. This will happen automatically in future when you add new items to these folders.

A step by step guide that explains how iPhone and Mac users can transfer their picture library from iCloud and Apple Photos to Google Photos.

A friend writes – “Any suggestions on how to combine the Google photo library with iPhoto. Which is a better platform for keeping the photos? Google seems to be very handy in sorting and searching. Would love to know your views”

I am a big fan of Google Photos for several reasons – you get unlimited storage space, Google is pretty good at visual image search and you can have collaborative photo albums where multiple people can upload to a common folder.

Transfer Photos from Apple iCloud / Mac to Google Photos

If you would like to copy your photos from iCloud / Apple Photos to Google Photos, there are no browser plugins or software that can automate this – you’ll have to manually transfer the picture library from Apple to Google Photos. Luckily, that migration process isn’t difficult either.

It is a two-step process – you download the photos from iPhoto and iPad to your computer via iCloud and then put them on to the Google Cloud. Let’s see how:

Step 1: Download Photos from iCloud

Via Web Browser

You may directly go to the icloud.com/photos website, select your photos and then click the download button to save them from the iCloud library to your Windows PC or Mac.

If you have photos on your iPhone or iPad that are getting backed up on iCloud, you can copy them to your Windows PC with iCloud for Windows.

Inside iCloud, sign-in with your Apple ID, then open the File Explorer window, click on iCloud Photos under Quick Access and then choose Download photos and videos .

On Apple Mac OS

Open the Apple Photos app on your Mac and press ^1 (Ctrl+1) to switch to the main Photo view that has a list of all pictures that are available in your iPhoto library.

Select one or more photos, then go to the File menu and choose Export to download pictures from Apple Photos to another folder on your desktop.

For the export options, you may stick to the default values but do check the “Include Location Information” option. This will help Google group your photos by location.

Also, if you aren’t seeing all your iPhone photos inside Mac, go to Preferences inside the Photos app and make sure that the Download originals to this Mac option is checked under the iCloud Photos section.

Step 2 – Upload Photos to Google Photos

Once you have saved the photos that you wish to transfer to your local drive, you need to send them to Google Photos and there are two ways to go about it.

Upload Photos via Web Browser

Open Google Chrome, or any other web browser, and go to photos.google.com. Simply drag the photos folder from your desktop to the Google Photos website and they’ll be uploaded in sequence.

The browser should remain open and your Internet connection should be working for the upload to happen in the background.

Upload Photos via Google App

If you have a large number of photos to upload from your Windows PC or Mac to the Google Photos library, it is recommended that you use Google’s Backup and Sync tool that is available for both Windows and Mac OS.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

With the app installed, sign-in with your Google account, select the folders on your desktop that you wish to backup and click Start to initiate the backup process.

While the name is Backup and Sync, it is not exactly a synchronization tool. So once your photos are uploaded to Google Photos, you can remove them from the local drive and they won’t be deleted from your Google Photos.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

File-sharing programs make it easier than ever to share data — from simple documents to larger video files.

Google Drive is one of the best file-sharing tools out there, and you can even add all of your Drive files on to your Mac computer’s desktop. With Backup and Sync, you can select certain Google Drive folders to keep housed on your desktop, as well.

Here’s how to do it.

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How to add Google Drive to the desktop on your Mac computer

1. Download and install the Google Drive app to your Mac if you haven’t already.

2. Once you’ve installed and added it to your applications, a Google Drive folder should appear in your Finder.

How to sync files between Google Drive and your Mac desktop

1. Open the Backup and Sync cloud icon in the top toolbar of your Mac. This should have also downloaded with the Google Drive app.

2. Click on the three vertical dots to the right of the drop-down, then scroll to Preferences. This is where you can customize everything that will sync between your Mac and Google Drive.

3. Click on choose folder.

4. Find the folder on your computer and click on it.

5. A popup will ask if you want to upload to Google Drive on the web. Click on “Continue.”

6. That folder will now be set up to sync with your Google Drive.

7. Double-check that it worked by opening your Google Drive in a browser, and click on “My Computers” in the sidebar.

8. Click on your computer, then click on the folder that you selected in Backup and Sync.

9. Ensure that any files you put in the folder have also shown up in Google Drive. If so, you essentially now have a Google Drive folder on your Mac desktop.

You have synced your phone’s photos with Google Photos, but what about those on your Mac or PC?

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

If you have been getting started with Google Photos, then you have probably checked out Google Photos on the Web and the mobile device of your choice. That’s what I did last week. I am an old Picasa user and struggled through the awkward Photos-as-part-of-Google+ years before blossoming with Google Photos. I love its navigation, cross-platform functionality and search capability, in addition to the fact that Photos is again its own application. I set it up to back up the photos on my iPhone but soon got to wondering how to sync it with the photos I have on my Mac.

I don’t take as many photos with my dSLR as I did before I began carrying an iPhone with me everywhere I go, but I do occasionally take my Nikon out and dump its photos on my Mac. How do I get those photos to Google Photos without engaging in the two-step process or downloading them to the Photos app on my Mac and then dragging them to the Google Photos Web app?

I didn’t have to look far before I found the Desktop Uploader app for Google Photos. You can find the Desktop Uploader here or by opening the sidebar on Google Photos in your browser and clicking App downloads. There are versions for OS X and Windows.

After installing the app and logging into your Google account, you can select which folders Google Photos will automatically back up. I installed the Mac app; the Desktop and Pictures folders were checked, along with Cameras & Storage Cards. This last option means that no matter where I put the photos from my camera’s SD card, Google Photos will get them. You can also uncheck the default options listed and add other folders as auto backup sources.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

During setup, you must also choose a photo size. You are given the same two options as you encountered on the Web or Google Photos mobile app: High quality or Original. The former caps photos at 16 megapixels and videos at 1080p but provides unlimited storage space, while the latter lets you upload full-resolution photos and videos but will almost undoubtedly force you into one of Google’s paid storage plans.

With your options set, click the Start backup button. I found that the Desktop Uploader did not begin backing up my entire photo library contained in the Mac Photos app but only a handful of photos and screenshots outside of my library that I had scattered on my desktop and in a folder on my desktop. Even though I left the Pictures folder selected as a backup source, Google Photos did not touch the library database file that packages my entire photo library in the Pictures folder. You will need to export any existing photos from the Photos app in order to back up them up to Google Photos.

When I tested the ability to back up photos from a camera, I connected my Nikon to my Mac and got this message:

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

I was pleased to see I could choose different options for different cameras, from Never to Always or Just once.

Embedding metadata in a photo is a bit like turning over a snapshot to scribble your name and a note on the back of the picture. The information travels with the photo, where ever it goes. Yes, it takes an extra step to view the metadata on a digital file, in the same way that you have to turn over a photo to read what’s recorded on the reverse.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Sam Chamblin Saunders San Leon Texas April 1915 age 12. Tom Worsley Saunders age 9 years. Taken Easter Sunday by Mr. Luther Allbritton.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Have you ever viewed the information for a digital photo and wondered where it came from and what it means? This information is called metadata, or “data about data.” To understand how metadata works and why it’s useful, it’s helpful to understand how capture devices organize images internally or on a memory card.

Every image can include two different kinds of data: Exchangeable image file format (EXIF) and International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC). Some data are automatically recorded by the camera and others are available for your input. This data is used to sort and organize images in the camera and when transferred to your computer.

Both EXIF and IPTC data are referred to as metadata and provide information about your digital image. The data is embedded in the digital file itself for JPG and TIFF format images, or saved in a companion “sidecar” file for RAW images. There is some overlap in data between the two sets of data.

Learn to use metadata as part of your digital image workflow in my book How to Archive Family Photos (FamilyTree Books, 2015).

Typical Exif information includes all kinds of information about the camera make and model, resolution, exposure, location and other settings, but most importantly for organizing files, Exif records date and time of capture with a unique file name for each image. The date and time is used to organize image files in folders and the unique file name identifies individual image files. Because Exif data is added automatically by your camera or capture device, you can’t really input Exif data except to insure that your camera is set to record the correct date and time.

In Adobe Lightroom, the EXIF panel looks like this:

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

The IPTC data looks like this:

Using embedded metadata is a bit like writing your name and phone number on the back of a snapshot. The information travels with the photo, and anyone who opens the file to look at the Properties or Information will be able to read the information you’ve recorded. For photos that will be shared on a public or online website, it’s a good idea to add a few basic lines of information so that someone down the line can learn where the photo came from and who is pictured in the image. The most basic data is usually enough, including:

  • Your name and email as the current owner of the image
  • A short title identifying the photo subject
  • A brief description or caption identifying any people, events, or dates

To add IPTC metadata to individual photos, you can use the Properties panel on your PC or the Get Info option on your Mac.

On a PC, right-click on the image and select Properties. Rename the file in the main window [A]. Click the Details tab to add tags and keywords [B].

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Update: As noted in the comments, adding metadata through the Windows Properties feature may not the best option. Metadata is a “funny” thing. It doesn’t always “stick” so that it’s visible in other applications. Before embarking on a large project renaming images, test a few files and open in other programs to confirm that the metadata has transferred. Using the SAVE AS or EXPORT command may work to embed the added metadata.

On a Mac, select an image and open the Information window with Command-I. Rename the file [A] and add tags and keywords in the window [B].

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

When organizing large image collections it’s usually most efficient to add tags, keywords, and captions to the metadata using batch-editing functions in a photo management program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Picasa, or Xnview.

My favorite tagging and data tool is Adobe Lightroom where I can add keywords, event names, and unique filenames as photos are imported from my memory cards or mobile devices. If you’re working with a limited number of photos, however, it’s a quick and easy task to add metadata to a few images with the Properties or Information panel.

Chris Hoffman
How to add location to google photos on pc or macChris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Modern smartphones (and many digital cameras) embed GPS coordinates in each photo they take. Yes, those photos you’re taking have location data embedded in them—at least by default. You may want to hide this information when sharing sensitive photos online.

Find the GPS Coordinates

GPS coordinates are stored as “metadata” embedded in the photo files themselves. All you have to do is view the file’s properties and look for it. It’s a bit like the potentially incriminating information that can be stored along with Microsoft Office documents or PDF files.

In Windows, all you have to do is right-click a picture file, select “Properties,” and then click the “Details” tab in the properties window. Look for the Latitude and Longitude coordinates under GPS.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

In macOS, right-click the image file (or Control+click it), and select “Get Info.” You’ll see the Latitude and Longitude coordinates under the “More Info” section.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Sure, you may be able to see this information with an “EXIF viewer” application, but most operating systems have this feature built in.

GPS coordinates are not embedded in every single photo. The person who took the photo may have disabled this feature on their phone or manually removed the EXIF details afterwards. Many image-sharing services online—but not all of them—automatically strip the geolocation details for privacy reasons. If you don’t see these details, the’ve been stripped from (or never included in) the image file.

Match the Coordinates to a Location on a Map

These are standard GPS coordinates, so you just need to match them to a location on a map to find where the photo was actually taken. Many mapping services offer this feature—you can plug the coordinates straight into Google Maps, for example. Google offers instructions for properly formatting the coordinates for Google Maps.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Bear in mind that this is just metadata and could be faked, but it’s pretty rare that someone would bother to fake metadata instead of stripping it entirely. It’s also possible for the GPS location to be off a bit. A phone or digital camera may just have been using its last known location if it couldn’t get an up-to-date GPS signal while taking the photo.

How to Stop Embedding GPS Coordinates in Your Photos

If you want to disable adding GPS data entirely, you can go into your phone’s Camera app and disable the location setting. You can also remove the embedded EXIF data before sharing potentially sensitive photos. Tools are built directly into Windows, Mac OS X, and other operating systems for this—just follow our guide for more details.

On an iPhone, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Camera, and then select “Never” for the “Allow Location Access” option. The Camera app won’t have access to your location and won’t be able to embed it in photos.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

On Android, this process varies from phone to phone. Different manufacturers include their own custom Camera apps, and even the Android 4.4 Camera app works differently than in Android 5.0. Dig around your camera app’s quick settings toggles or settings screen and look for an option that disables this feature—or just perform a quick web search to find out how to disable it on your phone and its camera app.

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Bear in mind, though, that GPS coordinates can be really useful, too. For example, with a service like Google Photos, Yahoo! Flickr, or Apple iCloud Photo Library, you can organize your photos and view them according to where they were taken, making it really easy to browse photos taken on a particular vacation or at a favorite landmark. You can always strip out the location information on your own if you want to share a photo—that’s why so many services automatically remove the geolocation details when you share the photo with someone else.

The EXIF metadata stored along with photos also includes some other details. For example, you can see exactly which model of camera (or smartphone) the person used to take the photo. You can also examine exposure settings and other details. Most of these details aren’t considered anywhere near as sensitive as GPS location details—although professional photographers may want to keep their tricks and settings secret.

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  • › What Is Beta Testing?

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
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However, for those looking for a more powerful metadata editor, this article has a simple list of freeware that enables you to change exif data of photos. Just for your information, photo metadata allows information to be transported with an image file, in a way that can be understood by other software, hardware, and end users, regardless of the format. By modifying these metadata, it doesn’t mean you have successfully fooled the police, there will always be digital breadcrumbs that are traceable.

↓ 01 – AnalogExif | Windows | macOS

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

AnalogExif is a free metadata editor for the scanned films and DSC-captured digital images. Modification of the most EXIF, IPTC and XMP metadata tags for JPEG and TIFF files.

  • Modification of the most EXIF, IPTC and XMP metadata tags for JPEG and TIFF files
  • Equipment library to store metadata properties of the film cameras and other analog equipment
  • Custom XMP schema for film camera properties (e.g. film name, exposure number etc.) and user-defined XMP schema for extra flexibility
  • Batch operations (copy metadata from another file, auto-fill exposure number)
  • Customizable set of the supported metadata tags

↓ 02 – ExifTool GUI | Windows

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

This is perhaps one of the most powerful Exif editors. Runs on both Microsoft Windows and macOS, ExifTool is a powerful editor that reads, writes and edits meta information in a wide variety of files.

ExifTool supports many different metadata formats including EXIF, GPS, IPTC, XMP, JFIF, GeoTIFF, ICC Profile, Photoshop IRB, FlashPix, AFCP and ID3, as well as the maker notes of many digital cameras by Canon, Casio, FLIR, FujiFilm, GE, HP, JVC/Victor, Kodak, Leaf, Minolta/Konica-Minolta, Nikon, Olympus/Epson, Panasonic/Leica, Pentax/Asahi, Phase One, Reconyx, Ricoh, Samsung, Sanyo, Sigma/Foveon and Sony.

↓ 03 – Exif Pilot | Windows

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Exif Pilot is a Free EXIF Editor that allows you to manipulate METAdata within image files. The free version doesn’t come with batch processing, you’ll be required to pay a small fee for the addon plugin.

  • View EXIF, EXIF GPS, IPTC, and XMP data.
  • Edit, create EXIF, EXIF GPS, IPTC, and XMP.
  • Remove EXIF, IPTC tags, and clean up all metadata
  • Add, edit, and remove keywords.
  • Import/export EXIF and IPTC from/to XML files.
  • Import/export EXIF and IPTC from/to MS Excel files.
  • Import/export EXIF and IPTC from/to Text files in CSV format.

↓ 04 – EXIFManager | Windows

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

EXIFManager is a free software that allows users to quickly enter image description / user comment / author on a set of pictures, inside the EXIF data and also to rename pictures files using EXIF data and a powerful format editor.

↓ 05 – Metadata++ | Windows

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Metadata++ is a powerful yet easy to use freeware tool to view, edit, modify, extract, copy metadata of various file formats. Metadata++ is designed to be as fast as possible: quick navigation among directories, fast directories reading, fast and smooth painting of panels and thumbnails. Metadata++ is portable, it is configured to store all configuration and settings in the same folder that it is run from.

↓ 06 – EXIF Date Changer Lite | Windows

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Almost all digital cameras record and store various camera settings, scene information, date/time the photo was taken etc as Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) data. This metadata is stored within the image file and won’t get lost or overwritten when copying or transferring your photos to other computers. EXIF Date Changer Lite enables you to quickly and easily adjust the date/time taken on your photos and scanned images.

If others have shared files and folders with you, then you will see those files and folder in “Shared with me”. These files and folders will not sync to Google Drive folder on your computer unless you add them to “My Drive” or individual folders which you have synced.

Following are the steps to Sync Files and Folders of Shared With Me in Google Drive:

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

How to add location to google photos on pc or mac

Quick Tip to ensure your Photos never go missing

Photos are precious memories and all of us never want to ever lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your photos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. Simply download PicBackMan (it’s free!), register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your photos are – PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all photos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don’t have to ever touch it.

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