Google Photos is great for photo management and backups, but it’s also full of features you might have overlooked. You can perform quick edits, share with others, and even build simple movies. Let’s take a look!

Use the Assistant to Build Albums, Books, Movies, and More

If you’ve been using Photos as a way to back up and collect your pictures, you likely have a slew of images to work with. You can make easy work of organizing those into albums (or shared albums), movies, collages, and animations with the Assistant—which is not to be confused with the Google Assistant. That’s something entirely different, because of course it is.

Note: The screenshots in this article are from the Android version of Google Photos, but the iOS version functions the same way. The web version of Photos uses the same icons and basic format, so you should be able to easily follow along.

To get to these options, tap the “Assistant” button at the bottom of Google Photos (or click on the “Assistant” link on the right side if you’re using Photos on the web). You’ll see all the primary options at the top: Album, Photo Book, Movie, Animation, and Collage. Tapping any of these items takes you to the Create page for that particular entry.


Here’s a quick rundown of what each primary option does:

  • Album: Create a collection of photos for easy organizing.
  • Photo Books: Create a custom photo book to order. Real pictures in a real book.
  • Movie: Make a video! This one is interesting because you don’t have to just pick and choose random things to put in your video. You have the option to use a specific format to create themed videos. It automatically and intelligently selects photos based on the category you choose using machine learning. And it’s really good at it.
  • Animation: String pictures together to make a short slideshow-type clip.
  • Collage: Pick up to nine images to combine into a single image. You know, a collage.

You’ll have to dig around in these menus a bit to really get the most use out of them, but for the most part, the Photos Assistant offers easy ways to automatically do things that would be much more difficult to reproduce manually.

Share Albums and Pictures with Family and Friends

If you have kids, you probably take a lot of picture of them. And if your significant other is anything like mine, they always says “oh, send me those pictures you took the other day!” What if I told you there was a way to easily and automatically share specific pictures with specific people? Oh yeah—you can do it.

This uses a new(ish) feature in Google Photos named Shared Libraries. Here’s the meat and potatoes of it: you pick the person you want to share photos with, then pick what you want to share photos of. From there, Photos does it automatically.

We have a full, detailed guide on how to set this up, so you can learn more there.

RELATED: How to Set Up and Use Google Photos' New Shared Libraries

If you’re not into automatic sharing, however, you can easily share specific things with specific people on the fly.

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can long-press on an image in the Photos view to enter selection mode, and then tap on any other images you’d like to include in the share. From there, tap the sharing button at the top, and then choose the contact (or method) you’d like to share with. You can also use the “Create Share Link” button to grab a link just to the image(s) you want to share, and then send that to your contacts.

Otherwise, you can tap on the Sharing button at the bottom, and then the three-dot menu at the top. Select “Start New Share,” and then select the images you want to share. Once the images are selected, tap the “Add Recipients” button at the top, choose your contacts, and then tap the “Done” button. Include a message if you want, and then send the link.

Quickly Optimize, Crop or Edit Photos

Google Photos also has a built-in editor on all platforms, which you can use to quickly make minor changes to your images. You can easily add filters, automatically enhance the image, or crop it.

To get the editor, just open the photo and tap the three lines at the bottom.

The default editor view is Filters, with the Automatic option being the first one to the right of the “original” button. While sorting through the various filters, you can also press on the image to see the original—much like on Instagram.

If you just need to do some simple lighting adjustments, tap (or click) the same three line-looking button that you used to get to the editor in the first place. It’s confusing, no doubt, but that’s how Google likes to roll. Alas, this will take you into the lighting adjustment settings, which just offers simple Light, Color, and Pop controls.

If you just need to crop or rotate the photo, you can do that by tapping or clicking on the icon that looks like a square with parenthesis around it. You can manually crop by using the corner pieces (drag them to the preferred size), or choose a pre-defined size by tapping the little rectangle icon with dots in it on the left side. Rotation options work the same way—you can do this by using the slider at the bottom for micro-adjustments or the rotate button on the right side for 90 degree rotations.

Don’t Delete Photos, Archive Them

If you notice a lot of clutter in your Photos and want to clean it up some without deleting your photos, this is the way to do it. Slide open the menu on the left side, tap Archive, and tap the Add Photos button in the top right corner (it’s just an icon on mobile). Just select the photos you’d like to archive, then tap “Done.” Done.

They’ll be gone, but not forgotten. You can just jump back into the Archive menu to see everything that you’ve archived. They’ll also show up in search results. Good stuff.

RELATED: What Is the New Archive Feature in Google Photos?

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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