The Google Photos app icon on a smartphone home screen.
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Google Photos has stood out by offering free unlimited storage of “High Quality” photos. That’s going away. Starting on June 1, 2021, Google Photos will no longer offer free unlimited storage. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s Changing: No More Free Unlimited Storage

Google Photos only offered unlimited free storage for photos and videos backed up in “High Quality,” which it defines as 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p resolution videos. If you chose to upload photos and videos in High Quality (instead of Original Quality), Google would let you upload an unlimited number of them.

Starting June 1, 2021, Google Photos is losing its free unlimited storage for “High Quality” photos and videos. After that date, all the photos you upload will count toward your Google account’s storage limit. This limit is 15GB and is shared among services like Google Photos, Google Drive, and Gmail.

If you need more storage for your photos, you’ll have to pay up for a Google One storage plan.

Here’s the good news: Any existing photos you’ve already uploaded are grandfathered in and won’t count toward your storage. Only new photos you upload to Google Photos after that date will count toward the storage limit.

How to Get More Storage for Your Photos

Google Drive on a smartphone and laptop
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If you like Google Photos, you can still use it. 15GB of free storage is more than many other services offer, so it’s still not a bad deal. For example, Apple only offers 5GB of free storage with iCloud.

If you plan to keep using Google Photos, you can monitor how much space you’ve used and how much you have available from the Google One Storage website. Google also has a Storage Management page that will help you free up storage in your Google account.

You can also buy more storage via Google One. Plans start at $1.99 per month for 100 GB of storage.

How to Download All Your Google Photos

Perhaps you’d like to leave Google Photos behind. You can download an archive of all the photos and videos you’ve ever uploaded to Google Photos from the Google Takeout website. (Google Takeout lets you download other data stored in your Google account, too.)

You can then upload the photos to whatever other photo service you want to use—or keep your photos on your own devices. Be sure to back up your photos and have multiple copies if you choose to store them yourself!

Alternatives to Google Photos

A person taking a photo with an iPhone
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Google Photos isn’t the only game in town. Now that it will no longer offer unlimited storage, it might not be the best option for many people who were already using it.

  • iCloud Photos: If you use an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other Apple devices, you might want to use Apple’s iCloud Photos. If you take photos with your iPhone, it’s nicely integrated without any third-party apps required. iCloud Photos does have more limited free storage—only 5 GB free—but you can get 50GB of storage for $0.99 per month. You can even purchase 200GB of storage for $2.99 per month and share that with your entire family. (The 50GB plan can’t be shared.) You can also pay for iCloud storage as part of an Apple One subscription bundle.
  • Amazon Photos: If you already pay for Amazon Prime, Amazon offers free unlimited full-resolution photo storage. Amazon isn’t the first service many people think of when it comes to photo storage, but it’s a good option.
  • Microsoft OneDrive: The OneDrive app can automatically upload photos and videos from your phone to your OneDrive storage. OneDrive is integrated into Windows 10 and available on other platforms. If you pay for Microsoft 365, you have 1 TB of OneDrive storage space to store all those photos.
  • Dropbox: If you already use and pay for Dropbox, you could upload your photos to Dropbox instead of Google Photos. Like other services, Dropbox’s app can automatically upload photos from your phone. However, Dropbox only offers 2 GB of free space and only offers more expensive storage plans starting at $9.99 per month. Dropbox likely isn’t the best choice unless you’re already invested in it.

Google Photos is still a fine photo storage solution, especially if you use Android devices and other Google services. But it’s no longer free for everyone, and that’s a big change.

If you’re an iPhone user who’s been using Google Photos instead of iCloud Photos because Google Photos is free, it might be time to consider switching.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly 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 more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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